Archive | December, 2011


20 Dec

“Eat local, but go global.”

It’s Vayu Maini Rekdal’s motto, but it could just as easily be his biography.

At 19, the Carleton College freshman and aspiring chef has traveled the world, started his own small business and worked under renown New York chef and Top Chef Masters winner Marcus Samuelsson

Now, the Stockholm native is bringing his international take on local cooking to the kitchens of Northfield.

From Norway to Northfield

Rekdal has Norwegian heritage and grew up spending every summer on a family farm in rural Norway, so it’s not surprising that he’s chosen Northfield as his home away from home.

“When I visited, I just fell in love with the place,” said Rekdal.

In his first term at Carleton, Rekdal started “Firebellies,” a cooking club centered on understanding different cultures through the universal language of food. One term into its creation, the club already has 40 members, due in part to Rekdal’s strong leadership.

“He’ll be able to have a directive as to what he wants to cook and then get everyone involved in it,” said Henri Sandifer, a Carleton student who has participated in Firebellies events.

Events include dinner parties and a competition called “Top Chef Dining Hall,” where students attempt to create delectable dishes made from ingredients available in Carleton’s dining halls.

But Rekdal has his sights set higher than cafeteria competitions.

“Essentially, what we have to do if we really want to make a change in society is to educate the next generation in healthy and sustainable cooking and make cooking a part of their lives,” said Rekdal.

Rekdal is already working to educate Northfield’s next generation. He teaches free cooking classes for Growing Up Healthy, a local nonprofit dedicated to increasing community connections for marginalized families with children under 5 years of age.

International food, international chef

Rekdal’s interest in teaching is nothing new.

At age 16, fueled by frustration with what he considered a sub-par high school home economics program, he founded a cooking company called MatRätt with two friends. The trio taught cooking classes to their peers.

“I really, really, really enjoyed teaching people how to cook and sharing my knowledge,” said Rekdal.

Despite his lack of professional training, Rekdal was quite knowledgeable about cooking, having been raised in a family united by food.

“I was always surrounded by cooking,” said Rekdal.

Rekdal has Indian, Kenyan, Cuban and Norwegian heritage. He explained that all of these diverse cultures share a love of food. From an early age, Rekdal’s mother encouraged his enthusiasm for cooking. 

His passion for local eating also began with his family, on those summers in rural Norway, where he would spend days picking mushrooms and going fishing, literally living off the land.

After high school, Rekdal left his Scandinavian roots behind and spent a gap year working in New York City. During his time in New York, Rekdal started YoungNYChefs. Half blog, half entrepreneurial endeavor, Rekdal curated a website with recipes while holding cooking classes at colleges across the East Coast.

It was during his time in New York that Rekdal got his first taste of the restaurant world. He was hired as a prep cook for Marcus Samuelsson, an acquaintance of his father’s, at Samuelsson’s restaurant, Red Rooster Harlem. Under Samuelsson, Rekdal gained technical expertise.

While working at Red Rooster Harlem, Rekdal made a major discovery about himself as a chef.

“I think the most important insight I got there in that kitchen was that my true passion is not cooking for other people,” said Rekdal. “It’s cooking with other people.”

Cooking with Northfield

Firebellies and the Growing Up Healthy classes are only the beginning of what Rekdal hopes to accomplish in the Northfield community. 

He is currently applying for a Northfield Healthy Community Initiative grant to start a cooking project with Northfield youth, which would cultivate empowerment and inspiration through cooking. Rekdal is also in talks with Northfield Middle School about potentially teaching cooking classes. He is in the process of launching a Northfield branch of YoungNYChefs as well.

In March, Rekdal will speak at Just Food Co-op where he will discuss sustainable cooking and the importance of intergenerational culinary education.

Rekdal has a full plate, to be sure. But who could complain when everything he’s serving up is locally grown, internationally flavored and, undoubtedly, delicious?

Related Topics: Carleton College, Firebellies, Growing Up Healthy, Healthy Community Initiative, Henri Sandifer, Just Food Co-op, Marcus Samuelsson, Northfield Middle School, Red Rooster Harlem, and Vayu Maini Rekdal


Wisconsin Cooking

17 Dec

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Inspiration of the day: Phoenix Redwood

14 Dec


Check it out!
Founded by singer songwriter and my dear friend from Paris, Henri Sandifer, this band finds its place in the intersection between music and food. Art is the name of its location. Phoenix Redwood is the name of the band.


MexicAsian goes Northfield!

13 Dec

Check out tonight’s dinner, hosted by Kelly Scheuerman in Northfield, MN!
More info will be up soon.

Thank you. This was so amazing






Cooking in The Carletonian

6 Dec

Here’s some pictures from an article in The Carletonian earlier this term! Check it out…


Yesterday’s cookery workshop in Northfield, MN

5 Dec

I am back in snowy Northfield, I arrived late Saturday evening.

The Carleton College campus is deserted and somewhat cold, but a great always dinner heats you up.

Yesterday, I had a workshop on campus. Inviting 15 people of different ages — coming from all across the U.S and the world — I designed a menu that featured lots of different Indian dishes. Together with my Indian friend Raghav, I led a team of bright-minded students, creating a complex and flavorful menu  featuring Indian classics in both new and old shapes. We cooked for 2 hours straight, and the end product surpassed any expectations. For hours, we enjoyed great company and food, heating up the small, snowy college campus. As always, it was amazing to share food knowledge and culture with people from all sorts of different backgrounds. At the dinner table, we are all equal.Imagerned ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage


Re-publishing: The Sunday Dinners

3 Dec

The Sunday dinners.

The smell of saffron filled my nostrils. My mouth was watering. I could not wait any longer. So hungry.

Told myself to be patient; I knew it was worth waiting for.

Ah, a bite. I closed my eyes.

Mmm, so good. The tangy flavor of the orange and lemon, softness of coconut, mastication of shrimp, fish and vegetables; all together the unmistakable taste of an Indian Curry. I opened my eyes and looked around me. There were the people I loved.

I smiled. How lovely that it was Sunday again.

The word that describes my background best is diversity. Coming from four different countries (Kenya, Cuba, India and Norway) has not always been easy. There were always cultural differences and traditions to adapt to; the table manor in Norway was surely not the same as in India; nor did my Kenyan aunt have the same picture of the world as my Cuban grandfather. Despite these differences, there was one thing that united them, a tradition they all had in common; the way they gathered around the dinner table every Sunday. It was through this tradition I got to know these countries. Every Sunday my family would gather friends at our place in Stockholm to share a dinner. We would cook together, talking about life.  Mom would cook the Sunday curries of Kenya and India, Dad; Cuban Frioles and Norwegian fishballs.

When visiting my family in their respective countries, this tradition was something I always recognized. I remember sitting by my grandfathers table in his sketchy house in Habana, my aunts table in London and with my uncles at the family farm in Norway.

2010. Looking out through the window; Manhattan’s rising skyline.

Looking beside me; right, left. New friends sitting by my table.

We are laughing and are just about to eat.

Everything so different, but still the same.

How lovely it is Sunday again.

Those Sunday dinners will stick with me forever.


3 Dec

I am flying back to Minnesota tomorrow, which not only means I will experience a drastic change in weather, but also a crazy change in food.

My L.A trip has been super inspiring and with me to Minnesota I bring tons of inspiration and exotic ingredients.

That being said, I want to wrap it  all up with a small photo story depicting my culinary endeavors in the Southland. Here’s some pictures from L.A, both home-cooked and restaurant food.

Happy holidays!

Yesterday’s dinner: “MexicAsian” feast in Hollywood Hills, CA

3 Dec

Yesterday I cooked an amazing dinner for a small party. Inspired by the Vietnamese and Mexican street food of Los Angeles, I created a menu based on two different cuisines that go surprisingly well together, albeit being ostensibly different. My MexicAsian dinner – a fusion of Mexican and S.E Asian – featured a vast array of dishes and compelling flavors, taking us on a journey across continents and palates. My idea was to base it on the concept of a taco, because it inevitably includes lots of different interesting salads, sauces and condiments. The outcome was least said exquisite. In the words of one of the diners, “this is insane. I would like to say your food is like medicine, but it’s actually not. It’s healthy, yes, but unlike medicine it’s damn tasty. Great job. I’m impressed.”

Here’s the menu:

Seared trout Tacos w roasted sweet potato & condiments


Seared Trout

3 peppers, panko

Roasted Sweet Potato

Lemon Zest, Rosemary, Sea Salt, Crushed Red Pepper

Minted Green Cabbage

Satsuma tangerine, Granny Smith, local olive oil, Shaved onion

Bean Sprout Salad

Marinated Daikon, Maple Roasted Cashews, Three-herb hoisin/rice vinegar dressing

Smokin’ hot Chipotle Mayo

Fresh cilantro, French Mustard, Roasted Cumin,

Fire Grilled Fresh Corn Salsa

Crispy corn, Diced Jalapeno, Scallion, Fish sauce

Sesame-infused Guacamole

Mirin, Lime, Toasted Sesame seeds,

Heirloom Tomato Salsa

Red onion, Thai Basil, Black Salt, Adobo Sauce

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