February 5, 2015
Maameo has not only put Norway on the culinary map, the two star Michelin restaurant has helped raise awareness of organic produce across the country. “It’s been tremendously satisfying to think that we are able to play a small part in changing Norway’s culinary landscape for the better”, says head chef Esben Holmboe Bang.
Oslo is a truly magnificent city to live in. It has everything you’d expect from a modern, vibrant global capital, but on a smaller and more accessible scale.
I’m from Copenhagen and I first came to Oslo some ten years ago with my Norwegian wife, Kaja. During that time, I’ve seen a steady, yet dramatic, transformation of the city, one of the fastest growing in Europe. From the gleaming buildings that make up the city’s now iconic Barcode development to its eclectic artistic, cultural, and culinary scene, Oslo is changing. And in typical Norwegian style, this is all done in a confident, yet modest way.
The driving force of creativity in Oslo lies in its younger generation, and compared to our Scandinavian neighbours I feel the city’s creative identity is stronger as it develops at a slower pace. There’s the feeling of a real buzz in the city, especially around its more cosmopolitan east side. Combined with easy and quick access to the pine-studded expanses of Oslomarka to the north, and the cool clear waters of Oslofjord to the south, it makes for a perfect combination of urban excitement and closeness to nature.
We started Maaemo just over four years ago. The idea was to forge a unique Norwegian identity that was part gastronomical and part cultural. It wasn’t easy to begin with, as most fine dining restaurants in Norway tended to look towards France for their inspiration, while we focus solely on using Norwegian produce. But now people have a clear idea of what we stand for and are very supportive of our efforts to build on Norway’s rich culinary heritage. And it’s been tremendously satisfying to think that we are able to play a small part in changing Norway’s culinary landscape for the better.
My biggest source of creativity comes from being at Maaemo. I love what I do, and seeing the wonderful local bounty of Norway being delivered to our door, or going out into the forest to pick wild herbs really inspires me to treat the ingredients as honestly as possible. We try to let the natural flavor of each ingredient shine through on the plate and strive to tell the unique story of Norway’s dramatic landscape and climate.