Food is the fundamental requirement for all life forms. Among the animals, human beings have almost mastered producing and storing food. Cooking also rose to the status of craft and a profession has evolved: chefs.
For the chef Ralf Pedersen there is a philosophy of food. He says one should respect the ingredients that go into making dishes. “It is very important not just because of things in season but how you handle ingredients. It shows respect and felt throughout the process, things like cooking with amazing ingredients from the beginning will always transfer to the end result. So what I do with my students is teaching the philosophy of respecting the ingredients from the day or the second we get the produce. So the end result is very important,” reflects Ralf Pedersen.
Buon Cibo is Italian, and it means ‘good food’, and there is a restaurant in Gothenburg with that name: Buon Cibo, pronounced as ‘bwon-chee bow’. The Denmark-born Ralf Pedersen is the chef, and Shikri Yaksul is the owner of the restaurant.
For Ralf Pedersen how you look at food play an important role. “The important thing about food is that you are creating a memory,” he says. “Creating a memory through the experience of food and everybody remembers that … the smell of that food, you sat with Ralf and ate that food…that is the important thing I pass on.”
“Food is more than the nourishment… it’s feelings and it’s memories,” notes Ralf, and he takes pride in cooking ‘amazing food that we do from the scratch’.
Ralf believes that knowing where the ingredients come to the kitchen is also important such as the meat. Where pigs are reared and how. When you know the back story of the food (where it comes from) it becomes more interesting with the food we consume notes Ralf. He recollected a bottle of honey he bought which was sourced near his hometown in Denmark. He said ‘smaller things make people happy’ and ‘those small details’ of ingredients and food products.
“People who buy in supermarket or restaurants that buy food in supermarket have no connection where the food comes from…treating products with respect,” emphasizes Ralf. He treats meat with respect because ‘taking the life of an animal unnecessarily’ is not good.
Is it challenging to have a different menu every day for lunch? “Finding inspiration can be challenging because of personal things that can happen in one’s life but the worst thing is … to start a change to what people are used to, like when I go to a standard lunch restaurant it is very this this this. You know what it is. You see what it is. But here now I started doing it in a Buon Chibo-way. Pork belly that is thinly sliced, it is in brine,” he says. “A restaurant can buy thinly sliced pork bellies and just fry and serve it. I buy the whole pork side, I slice it and brine it the whole day – fry it, bake it, serve it and you will get a whole new product. I have passion in it. I show my love. It takes me insane amount of time to do it but I choose not to (buy the readymade meat). I just don’t want to be different but I want to change the way you look at it. I buy everything and do it myself.”
If you happen to visit Buon Cibo, talk to Ralf Pedersen. You will learn something about the philosophy of food in addition to getting a good lunch.