Meet Emma Bengtsson, Executive Chef at Aquavit** in New York City

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

Swedish chef rewarded 2 Michelin stars, Emma Bengtsson is the second female chef in the U.S. accorded that honor. Her cuisine, an ode to seasonality and locality, tells us a story from Sweden to New York.

Photo by Eric Vitale

Born and raised in a small Swedish fishing village, Emma Bengtsson made her dream come true by coming to the city that never sleeps in 2010. She has certainly become one of the key characters in the New York culinary scene since she was awarded two Michelin stars at the fine dining Nordic restaurant Aquavit in 2014. Her style reflects evolving cuisines of both Sweden and New York City, which features a lot of seafood and wild greens. Aquavit focuses on local and sustainable ingredients, and Emma has built a very strong relationship with the farmers who she has carefully selected.

After talking to Emma, it is obvious how much passion and love she puts into her art, and how difficult being far from her kitchen is to her. “It’s been a little over two months now that I feel like a child who has had all her toys taken away" she confides.

She shares with us today her vision on the future of the restaurant industry, her doubts and her desires to re-open, most likely with a twist.

Welcome Emma to Chefs for Impact!

By Emma Bengtsson as told to Chefs for Impact

What brought you to the US?

"I grew up in a small town on the west coast of Sweden. As a child, I was very lucky to have delicious homemade meals, thanks to what we now call "farmers' markets". I realized quite early on that I was not very good at academics. Cooking has always been one of those things that came naturally to me. Growing up, I became a picky eater because I was so spoiled that it was always easier to cook for myself. I think this led me through all the stages I went through in my life. I left my small town to go to Stockholm cooking school and I was lucky enough to land in a few fine dining restaurants where everyone was so passionate and pushed this way of thinking. I love Sweden and I love the food there, but I felt that it wasn't where I belong. I visited New York in 2004 and after that I couldn't get the place out of my mind. It to