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A taste of Lofoten

Meet Lofoten's rising
culinary star: Mymint

We live in the midst of an exceptional cornucopia of food.

Siriyaporn 'Mymint' Rithisirikrerg

Silver, Young Chef of the Year 2023

I moved to Lofoten from Thailand when I was 11 years old. It was tough.
But today I am very proud of being a Northerner with Asian roots.
You can taste that in my cooking. Like these skrei cheek dumplings.

Siriyaporn 'Mymint' Rithisirikrerg moved to a remote corner of Norway as a child. Today, she's one of Norway's most successful and talented young chefs, largely thanks to ample support from a very unique local hotel team, who are committed to nurturing local talent – and tasty experiences. Let them introduce you to some of the best local food in Lofoten!

"I am incredibly curious. I thrive on learning new things, experimenting, and competing," says Siriyaporn Rithisirikrerg, affectionately nicknamed 'Mymint'.

At just 23 years old, she has already achieved remarkable success: winning silver in Norway's Young Chef of the Year competition in 2023, another silver in the Nordic Green Chef of the Year contest, and gold at the Norwegian Jeunes Chefs des Rôtisseurs. She was also on the Norwegian Senior Chef Team at the IKA Culinary Olympics in 2024, among other accomplishments.

These achievements would be impressive for anyone, but for a young immigrant, who grew up in a small village with 50-60 houses wedged between mountains and the northern winds, they are truly extraordinary.

"It was tough in the beginning. I didn't know the language, and the darkness and cold were overwhelming," recalls Mymint.

Comfort in cooking

Fortunately, she found solace in cooking. Whether preparing spicy Thai dishes with her mother or traditional Norwegian meals with her grandmother, often featuring fresh fish caught by her grandfather, the kitchen was Mymint's sanctuary.

"I was always sitting on the kitchen counter with my nose in the pots and pans," she laughs.

After enrolling in a culinary program at secondary school in Melbu, she began selling homemade spring rolls to tourists in Lofoten during the summers, reinvesting all her earnings in new kitchen utensils. Eventually, she secured an apprenticeship at Thon Hotel Lofoten.

The hotel is renowned for its excellent cuisine, with a strong commitment to utilising first-class local ingredients. It also has received many national awards for its commitment to providing apprenticeships to local talents.

Pure flavours allow the natural qualities of the ingredients to take centre stage.

Seafood nirvana

In the heart of Svolvær, the 'tourist capital' of the Lofoten Islands, the two local Thon hotels take pride in offering their guests an authentic taste of this unique region.

 "We're surrounded by an incredible culinary region, with the sea at our doorstep and fantastic local food producers in our backyard. We prioritise organic and locally sourced ingredients, using what's in season as much as possible," says Mymint.

The skrei experience

We visited in March, and were fortunate to experience the arrival of the world-famous skrei, the migratory Atlantic cod, to the Lofoten region for spawning, marking the start of one of the most significant seasonal fisheries in the world.

"Skrei is an incredibly versatile fish, boasting firm, white flesh due to its lengthy migration. It lends itself to a myriad of dishes," explains Mymint, as she serves mouthwatering dumplings crafted from skrei cheeks, served in a savoury fish broth that marries Northern Norwegian and Asian flavours, garnished with delightful edible flowers from the hotel's rooftop greenhouse.

Learn the sexy local trick for getting good fishing luck: Haill!

Stockfish magic

Much of the skrei caught during the season is hung on racks to dry naturally in the wet and windy climate to make stockfish, just like it has been preserved for over a thousand years in this region.

In fact, it's often said that stockfish 'built Norway' due to the numerous coastal cities, including Bergen and Trondheim, that flourished thanks to the thriving trade.

Stockfish is one of my favourite ingredients. It has a very distinctive aroma, but I love it.

Mymint

Lofoten locals jokingly refer to the scent of stockfish as 'the smell of money'. 

You can eat it dry, as a protein-rich snack, or rehydrate it and grill it, bake it, boil it, or even use it as topping on a pizza. 

Mymint treats us to a delightful small potato lefse (tortilla) with a tasty stockfish cream, served like a taco.

"I actually served this to the master chefs competing in the Bocuse d'Or in Trondheim in 2024," she shares.

Photo: Fredrik Ahlsen / Visitnorway.com

Sensational seaweed

"I also love cooking with high-quality seaweed from Lofoten Seaweed. It adds a very unique umami taste," says Mymint.

Salmon, clams, and shellfish are other key ingredients on the menu. Sometimes, they're creatively served on a traditional Norwegian (savoury) waffle!

The hotel has two restaurants. The Paleo Arctic fine dining restaurant draw inspiration from the Paleolithic Period, when people lived as hunter-gatherers and fishermen.

However, you'll also find excellent cuisine in the modern Brasserie, offering everything from sharing menus featuring the flavours of Lofoten to seafood prepared on the Spanish Josper grill or the Japanese Robata grill, along with fantastic pizzas.

An Arctic greenhouse

"Smell these!" Mymint exclaims, holding out a selection of fresh herbs plucked from the greenhouse on the hotel rooftop.

Despite being in the Arctic, the hotel manages to cultivate most of its herbs, along with an abundance of salads and vegetables, thanks to the long daylight hours in summer and a bit of LED lighting assistance during the darkest winter months. Surplus heat from the kitchen is also channeled up.

I am immensely grateful to the team at Thon Hotel here in Svolvær. They have supported and encouraged me all the way.

Lovely Lofoten lamb

It's not just delicacies from the sea that are must-eats when you are visiting Lofoten. The lamb from this region is exceptionally tender, attributed to the animals roaming freely in the mountains and grazing on salty seaweed and grass.

Both the stockfish made from skrei in Lofoten and Lofotlam, the local lamb, have Geographical Indication protection, akin to that enjoyed by Champagne.

"We strive to source most of what we serve here from local producers, for example vegetables from the Myklevik farm in Stamsund, where we also cultivate our own potatoes, and cheeses from award-winning makers like Aaland Gård and Lofoten Gårdsysteri," says Erik Taraldsen, the hotel's ambitious director.

"If we want people to be able to live and thrive in this remote area and develop exceptional foods, we must invest in them. And they consistently deliver extremely high quality," he adds.

Photo: Fredrik Ahlsen / Visitnorway.com

Back to the roots

"We want to draw inspiration from our Arctic roots and fully capitalise on the goods we've been exporting for over a thousand years, using modern and innovative methods. We smoke, ferment, cure, and pickle different products and even dry our own stockfish. In addition, we encourage our staff to be creative and experiment," says Stian Haugnes, Head Chef of the restaurants.

Haugsnes grew up in a fishing family in the North before venturing away to work as a cook, before ultimately return back home to his roots.

"It's crucial that we support the local community, or else we just become a mere backdrop. I'm the son of a fisherman myself, and used to cut cod tongues in Henningsvær as a kid, like many kids still do, and barely ate meat until I was an adult," says Haugsnes, who was awarded Norwegian Head Chef of the Year by the Norwegian Chefs Association in 2023.

"Today, I take pride in being able to buy a specific cow that I can point out in a field outside a local farm, knowing that this animal has had a decent life. This gives you a different kind of respect for the food you eat. And of course, we try to use every part of the animal," he adds.

Photo: Fredrik Ahlsen / Visitnorway.com

Creating jobs

Creating local employment opportunities and nurturing and educating talented locals is crucial to the community, especially in rural areas, which are threatened by depopulation and an aging population.

"We have a very international work force here, but we also strive to employ local staff, from young individuals starting their first summer job to providing apprenticeships to talented locals like Mymint. It's fantastic to witness her growth, along with other local chefs we have here. We love sending them out into the world to compete and gain experience working in other restaurants. They often return with fresh, innovative ideas," says Haugsnes.

A trailblazer

"The team at Thon has meant everything to me. They make me feel safe and comfortable, allowing me to grow and compete," says Mymint.

Being one of only a handful top chefs in the country that are women can be both inspiring and challenging.

"It's essential to be a trailblazer. It's a demanding profession, and you need strength to be part of the game and compete. But I love it," she says.

When she's not working, you can find Mymint hiking in the wild mountains on trails that start right behind the kitchen door.

"Nature recharges me," she says.

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