Here’s looking at you, kid

Most of us associate selfies with the advent of mobile phones. The truth is, they go a long way back.

Last May, Team Sweden (and the New York Rangers) superstar goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was sitting in a press box at the Globe Arena in Stockholm, watching his teammates play an exhibition game against Russia, when suddenly a group of small boys caught a glimpse of their idol.

The group got closer, slowly but surely, and then one of the boys mustered up enough courage to walk up to the box and talk to Lundqvist.

“Hi, Henke, what’s up? Why aren’t you playing? Where’s your brother?”

Lundqvist had almost gotten to the end of his reply when the boy went on.

“Can I take a picture?”

“Sure,” Lundqvist said.

The boy turned his back on his idol,

raised his arm and aimed his camera so that they were both in the frame, and snapped a photo. In front of him, a line was beginning to form, and they all did the same – greeted Lundqvist, turned their back on him and snapped a photo. The last boy in the line also wanted his little brother to get a photo and instead of taking a photo of his brother, he lifted him up so that he could take the photo of him and Lundqvist himself.

A selfie, that is.

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Chef Paul Svensson – All or nothing

Join the navy, see the world, as the saying goes. In the case of acclaimed Swedish chef Paul Svensson, who’s now spearheading the sustainability and reuse food movements, being assigned kitchen duty in the Swedish Navy opened a door to a world he hadn’t even known existed.

In some other dimension – maybe in a galaxy far, far away – there may be a diligent hydropower engineer who goes by the name of Paul Svensson. That’s the version of Paul Svensson who didn’t fall in love with cooking when he was doing his military service.

And if you subscribe to the multiverse theory, then you’ll also be interested in learning that in yet another universe, Paul Svensson is an Olympic gymnast.

One thing we know for certain, though – there’s a Paul Svensson who’s currently a bestselling culinary author, TV personality, and celebrated head chef at the top floor restaurant housed inside Fotografiska, the Museum of Photography, which sits in Stockholm’s harbor in a stately Art Nouveau building dating back to 1906.

He has a boyish face, gorgeous hair, the posture of an athlete (due to his early interest in a gymnastics career), and a moustache and beard that bring to mind the Three Musketeers as he darts among the tables and crew members at the museum’s restaurant. He greets everyone by their first name – even this reporter, whom he’s never met before. He’s wearing a black shirt, black apron, black pants and sturdy black boots – all of which make his blue-banded sports watch stand out.

We’ll get back to his boots shortly.

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Axel Adler – The hand is quicker than the eye

Blink and you’ll miss it. Don’t blink, and you’ll still miss it. Axel Adler’s illusions will make you doubt your own eyes.

Axel Adler has been talking for over an hour when he gets up and walks over to a side table. But not to get a cup of coffee though. He returns with a small spoon in his hand. Walking back to us, he mutters something under his breath, cursing the spoon for being difficult to bend. “What’s this made of? Solid iron?”

No Uri Geller tricks here, in other words.

He sits down and holds the spoon upright, between his thumb and index finger and wiggles it.

“Anyway, you can see the optical illusion, it looks like the spoon is made of rubber, right?”

I nod and frankly I’m a little bit excited, because I get it now. It’s just an illusion!

“So now, if I do this,” he says, holding the spoon with both hands by its tip and neck, and making bending moves with his fingers, “…it looks like the spoon is bending, but that’s just your eyes playing a trick on you,” he says.

Three seconds later, he holds the spoon in his hand.

It’s bent.

Which is exactly what was supposed to happen – except that it was supposed to be merely an optical illusion.

Adler smiles and puts the spoon away.

“You see,” he says, with a smile. “You can’t really trust your eyes.”

Nor should you trust a magician, and Adler is a good as they come.

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The Hobbit (moves on)

In Hovin, an Oslo, Norway neighborhood, there’s a small pond that freezes in the winter, which makes it perfect for kids who want to skate. It sits inside a pocket of red brick houses, a stone’s throw from Valle Hovin, a speed skating arena, and Vallhall, an indoor soccer arena.

You can see the pond from the houses on the hill, and if you’re lucky, some kids will be playing. And just like kids everywhere, half their game takes place on the ice, the other half in their heads. Nobody’s ever just himself, because everybody’s pretending to be someone famous.

When Mats Zuccarello, the New York Rangers forward playing in his fifth season in the National Hockey League, was younger, his heroes were Peter Forsberg, the Swedish Hockey Hall of Famer, and his Colorado Avalanche teammates, Canadians Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy. Posters of those three were plastered on the walls of his room.

On that same wall, now his brother’s room, there’s a New York Rangers sweater number 36, with “Zuccarello” on the back.

How times have changed.

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Get in touch with your inner Finn

In recent years, Finland has become the world’s model society in many categories and nobody’s as surprised as Finns themselves! Want to celebrate the eastern European country like a native? Here’s how.

Do not call Finland an “eastern European country.” Yes, it is the eastern-most country in the EU, but it took decades for Finns to convince themselves they were a part of the West. However, to get a feel for that 1970s eastern European flavor, stop by U.Kaleva, a bar named after Urho Kaleva Kekkonen, who was the president of Finland between 1956 and 1981.

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How to make a hit TV show

Long gone are the days when television was simply a box in the heart of the living room. Instead, television is everywhere – in your living room, on your tablet, and – yes – even on that phone of yours, thanks to streaming and to new operators, such as Netflix and Amazon, who have entered the production game as well.

Who among us isn’t working her way through one or several TV shows right now? And when we’re not watching the shows, we’re talking about them. We want more shows, new shows, new things to devour, love and get hooked on.

Naturally, Hollywood and the new players are after hits. Shows and movies that get everybody’s attention. The must-sees. The challenge for the producers is that creating a hit is easier said than done. Here are ten things to consider.

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Smurf’s up!

In 1958, Pierre Culliford, better known as Peyo – a pen name he had coined after a cousin kept mispronouncing Pierrot, his French nickname – predicted that in “three years from now, no one will talk about them anymore.”

He meant a set of comic characters he had created, after he had forgotten the word for salt and had asked for “schtroumpf” instead.

What Culliford smurfed up was a magical village of blue creatures three apples tall and each with one distinct characteristic. They sing and dance, have parties and live a happy life under the guidance of Papa Smurf, their wise old leader.

The Smurfs made their first appearance in Spirou magazine in 1958, as secondary characters in a Johan and Peewit series, set in the Middle Ages.

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Marcus Samuelsson – community chef

Marcus Samuelsson is many things. He’s a father, a husband, a chef, an entrepreneur, an employer, an author and a TV personality. He knows what he wants, and just as importantly, he knows what he doesn’t want. But the thing he seems to like doing the most is to open new restaurants. And since achieving fame as the youngest ever chef to receive a three-star review from The New York Times in the mid 1990s, he has been opening restaurants all over the place.

Now 48 years old, Samuelson was born in Ethiopia and raised in Gothenburg and the village of Smögen. He began to learn his craft in his grandmother’s kitchen and at restaurants in Switzerland, France and Japan. He then moved to New York, where he now lives and from where he runs a network of more than two dozen restaurants.

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Gospel of Boston

His father and grandfather built houses, but rather than homes, Jonas Reinholdsson is turning his O’Learys into a sports bar empire.

“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.” That’s the opening line of the 1980s TV show Cheers, about a Boston bar, its staff and all the regulars. Cheers was the place where “everybody knows your name.”

And it was that kind of place Jonas Reinholdsson wanted to open when, as a 26- year-old looking for a fresh start, he bought a debt-laden Gothenburg restaurant for one Swedish krona.

Today, Reinholdsson’s single restaurant has grown into more than 130 franchises in 12 countries. Most are in the Nordics but as far as Reinholdsson is concerned, the journey has only just begun – he foresees 150 restaurants in the Nordics and 250 restaurants in total by 2019.

“I want to grow into one of the world’s biggest restaurant chains. We opened 21 new bars in 2016, we’ll do 25 this year, 35 more in 2018 and 50 in 2019,” he says. “If things go to plan, we’ll be opening one restaurant per week.”

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