Sweden - Luqaz Ottosson
Romakloster, September 21, 2020
On a bicycle through Sweden
" an unforgettable food experience on the island of Gotland "

Luqaz Ottosson, Young Chef of the Year 2012, provides an unforgettable food experience on the island of Gotland. Located in a whitewashed barn with pink window frames is his restaurant called “Rot” (English: Root). “There is no need for a sign”, says Luqaz, “since you have to make a reservation for the 14 places around the large communal table.”

The restaurant’s fantastic food comes from locally-produced ingredients, seasonal and changing. Luqaz and his brigade visit their producers before every dinner. A devotee of organic produce, for instance he buys unsaleable crooked carrots and oversize onions.

Luqaz’s style: menu created around the garden; four dishes max; decision how to prepare raw ingredients is in the moment; rustic, natural.

Luqaz’s preferences: Gotland lamb; beef from Swedish mountain cattle; engaging conversations around the dining table.

The wines: not local - though connected to Gotland - are supplied by Swedish-owned Terreno in Toscana. For those who prefer them, non-alcoholic vegetable drinks are prepared and paired with great care.

Luqaz the storyteller…

It begins with him as a 12-year-old attending Eksjö’s culinary school where later he became a chef. Next came Gotland’s Furillen peninsula where, as a young chef, he learnt the difference between green and white asparagus. Göran Hoas, owner of Lilla Bjers, let Luqaz work there.

His career continued at “50 Square” a small fine dining restaurant in the heart of Visby. Imagine his surprise when he was invited to start a restaurant in the greenhouse at Lilla Bjers. It was an easy choice! Lilla Bjers Gårdskrog quickly built a reputation and has been awarded many prizes.

Luqaz has supported many young chefs, among them Fabian Olli Johanson, Young Chef of the Year 2019. Owning a restaurant was the dream in 2016 when he found the place in Visby.

However a change of direction came just as everything was falling into place. He cancelled the project. But not tired of meeting producers he organised a tour around Sweden. Given a bicycle Luqaz started his trip from south to north, a total of 3400 km with visits to producers and pop-up dinners along the way.

“I had not planned on cycling” he says, “I don’t even like to cycle. I would never have met all these people otherwise. Our will to learn from each other took cooking to a new dimension. And suddenly my inspiration was back”.

Back in Gotland Luqaz visited Jennie Olofsson in her glass studio, Big Pink. As childhood memories surfaced from the crystal region in Småland, Luqaz realised this was where he wanted to stay. Jennie was of the same opinion.

Suddenly things started happening. A temporary outdoor kitchen was set up. Necessary permits were obtained with the help of local authorities. This enabled Rot to open in the middle of the season nevertheless it immediately gained recognition from the start.

The rest is history.

A compact, fully functional kitchen has been added. Earlier plans of making half the barn into a restaurant were put on hold since both Jennie and Luqaz agreed the greatest dining experience would be in the glass studio.

Jennie and Luqaz experimented with food cooking on the 1000-degree hot molten glass. “Food on glass” quickly trended on social media. Luqaz is learning more about glass handicraft, Jennie about secrets of food.

“We have a plan”, they agreed, “In ten years, we are going to change jobs with each other!”

Catarina Offe
Conseiller Culinaire

Translation into English by Margareta Henry, Chargée de Missions Honoraire