Inspiration
Photo by Matilda Levenborn

Joel Åhlin, Bar Agrikultur

Joel Åhlin is the father of small children who runs a Michelin star restaurant in Stockholm's inner city. In addition to that, he also runs two other restaurants, including the mini-restaurant Bar Agrikultur. The interest in cooking began at an early age and became decisive when it was time for high school choices. We met Joel and talked about Sunday breakfast, signature dishes and summer plans. Meet him here.

June 28, 2022

Joel, tell us all, who are you?
Haha, I am one of the founders of Agrikultur and Bar Agrikultur. I am passionate about good food and constantly challenging myself. I also run a plant-based fast food chain called Fafelle as well as some side projects and consulting assignments. Last year I spent a lot of time on a cookbook called Köttfärssås which I wrote with Jason Diakité and Harald Wachtmeister, we have also launched a red wine.

"For me, it became natural to step in there with the ambition of making it Södermalm's most popular restaurant that would attract guests from all over the city"

Describe yourself with three words!
Calm, interested and thinking.

You are involved in three of Stockholm's restaurants, how did that happen?
I started Agrikultur in Vasastan with Filip Fastén in 2016 and then quite close we opened Bar Agrikultur on Södermalm. For me, it became natural to step in there with the ambition of making it Södermalm's most popular restaurant that would attract guests from all over the city. Filip continued with the restaurant in Vasastan and with his incredible ambition and commitment, Agrikultur got a star in the Michelin guide and the same year we got a Bib Gourmand for Bar Agrikultur. In recent years, I also have a role in a plant-based restaurant concept that has now, after a couple of years, gained momentum and is running its first investment round.

Who are you in your work?
Oops, I try to be an orderly player but can also have many crazy ideas but usually one of all ideas is a really good idea. I have recently tried to be long-term and value relationships with greater respect.

One of the signature dishes at Bar Agrikultur is our everyone's beloved pickle, who gets the credit for putting it on the menu?
The idea for the dish comes from a trip Filip and I made in 2015 to Moscow, where we just got pickles served with sour cream and honey. We Swedishized it a bit by putting the cucumber in a lot of crown dill and simplified the layout so that instead of dipping the cucumber in the accessories, you get everything in one small bite.

"I love breakfast and reading the newspaper on the weekends. For real, start subscribing to a daily newspaper!"

What is the most fun in your work?
That every day is different but it can also be the most difficult sometimes.

What do you eat for breakfast on a Sunday morning?
At home, it will be scrambled eggs, cheese sandwich, kale smoothie or orange juice and coffee. I also steal some pancakes from the children. I love breakfast and reading the newspaper on the weekends. Really, start subscribing to a daily newspaper!

Is there anything you absolutely do not eat?
Dry expensive refrigerated sandwiches with too few toppings that are unfortunately sold everywhere.

What do your summer plans look like?
A week in northwest Zealand, a week on Gotland then we are home and will probably hang out a bit on my in-laws' allotment which is overnight and is nicely located next to a river. Also hope to go to Norway and meet some friends.

What is the secret behind a successful chef?
Own drive, to never see yourself as perfect, to genuinely respect and be interested in other chefs' cooking and to like food yourself. Then you have to know the dance in the kitchen. You see it and it's so nice when a movement or step is not unnecessary.

What do you serve your guests during a dinner at home?
Me and my fiancée have a parade dish we usually offer. Chinese pancakes with hoisin sauce, grilled curry, kimchi, cucumber, green onions, coriander and fried shallots. You put everything on the pancake and fold it into a taco.

What would you like to recommend?
To talk more about food and what your surroundings cook and eat in a prestigious way. It is a fun topic of conversation and delights most people.

I listen to…
The Cure, Fleetwood Mac, Veronica Maggio mm mm mm.

This is what I drink in a bar…
Dubonnet on ice or Old Fashioned.

I prefer to travel to…
Italy or Southeast Asian cities

I laugh at…
My children every day

My favorite snack is…
Chili nuts, potato chips that taste abroad.

Photo by Matilda Levenborn