PHOTOGRAPHY: Martin Nordin
Hiding out in his son's room, under a poster of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are - this being the only place in the house that was guaranteed to be empty for the duration of our interview - seemed rather fitting when we recently chatted with Martin Nordin aka The Cabbage Butcher and creator behind Gröna Burgare (Green Burgers), an amazingly inspirational new cookbook which takes the traditional take on burgers and spins it on its head. Approached by publishers Bonnier to create a cookbook Martin realised how much more liberating and creative it would be to develop, cook and eat green burgers - take out the meat from a traditional burger and suddenly the choices are almost limitless. The ideas came to him fast and furiously, with many hours spent tasting the fruits of his labours and whilst he has worked tirelessly to create delightful flavour combinations what he really wants to do is through his recipes inspire his readers, dare them, challenge them to test different variations and then with their new found knowledge start building their own favourites - try and try again, mix up the accessories, discover something new and create another favourite.
As his moniker The Cabbage Butcher implies, it is an on-going process to cut down on meat and eat less animal products, it is simple he explains - if we care about the environment we should simply cut down on our meat consumption. In doing so he has also learnt in recent years to appreciate vegetables in a whole new way. He has shifted his focus from how a traditional meal should look like, turning away from the meat and two veg model and focusing his attention more around vegetables - the taste, texture, composition and context. With different methods of cooking and looking to other cultures he discovered for example how versatile cabbage can be, but of course it is not just about cabbage, another recent challenge was to create the most perfect Boeuf Bourgogne but with only vegetables - balanced food, with lots of flavour, lots of textures, just how mama used to make it, but without the meat.
Martin comes from an old farming family, where everyone hung out in the kitchen and helped out, he doesn't subscribe to the superstar chef syndrome and their one man shows, he is a democratic chef surrounded by a community, he maintains that it is not just about the food, but with whom you share it with. He simply adores the whole idea of gathering around food - friends and family are welcome, all those who are into food really, cooking, talking about it, sharing tips and tricks, loving every minute, he explains that for him the best dinners are those where everyone is part of the process.
His book is a feast for your eyes, one look and your next recipe will be a green burger, I promise you, be it with beans and lentils, root vegetables, zucchini, spinach, mushrooms or halloumi, they all look mouthwateringly delicious, with condiments to suit every taste and style, that will make your burgers pop with flavour. From roasted celeriac with thyme and rosemary sauce and chanterelles, to baked Jerusalem artichokes with miso and herb sauce, via BBQ portobello mushroom with grilled paprika and mayonnaise. The book is a fantastic guide into the world of green burgers, it is also a great inspiration to try your own ideas. We personally have truly relished trying a few of the recipes, even experimenting with our own combinations and to say our cupboards are stocked with a few new condiments is an understatement, we can't wait to use our fermented miso infused red onions on our next burger.
Having overcome a mental block about writing which he has endured since childhood, he has managed to overcome this with the support of his family and with the help of a great mentor at the publishers. Creating every aspect of this book, this man is truly a force to be reckoned with, Martin Nordin aka The Cabbage Butcher, has an unquestionable sense of both taste, styling and photography. On weekdays he works in advertising / communication and when he is not working he cooks and lives life with his nearest and dearest to the fullest.
Rather fortuitously the book is coming out just in time for the start of the al fresco cooking season. It is also - you will no doubt be pleased to hear - already scheduled to be translated into several languages but if like us you simply cannot wait, then use your handy translation app and get cooking.
Photos of Martin by Oscar Falck.