As another work year draws to a close a few moments of reflection are impossible to ignore, where did it go, what the hell did I do, thank God I’ve been able to check my telephone so I know what I’ve done and where I’ve been, this time next year I assume will be even more difficult to remember.

January – March.

Høyfjellshotell, Gaustablikk

Early in the winter season I had the opportunity to work in Norway, it was the first time for me working over the “border”. Fly in every second week during the peak winter season, Gaustablikk is your prime nature and integrated tourist destination incorporated into an unspoiled fjäll environment.

The road to Gaustablikk is both historic and interesting. This idyllic natural setting staged one of world war 2’s most deciding confrontations, during 1944 German occupied Norway was producing heavy water at the Vemoth Hydro plant, obviously the Germans needed the heavy water for their atomic bomb research back in Berlin. Whereupon the heroic local Norwegian resistance together with the allies sabotaged the plant in Rjuken at the bottom of the valley. Later when the production had recommenced, and a shipment of barrels filled with heavy water was being transported on the local ferry “SF Hydro” the resistance struck again sinking the SF Hydro in Tinn lakes deepest depths. A poignant cost of this necessary operation was the loss of local lives on the ferry.

Visit also the nearby Gaustabanan “tramway” this underground railway ascends inside the mountain to Gaustatoppen, “the summit” the train climbs from 1150 to 1800 meters above sea level. The Gausta tourist hut and the cold war Nato listening post are atop the mountain.

During February we hosted an international restaurant promotion at Gaustablikk, we had from neighbouring Sweden, restaurant Miss Voon is a well-established restaurant in Stockholm, specialising in pan Asian fusion food.


March took me to the island of Brac, not much happens in Supetar off season.

I was there for the Holliday Village congress with a selection of their executive chefs and F&B managers from around the Mediterranean.


Following directly after Croatia I was off to Sarigerme in Turkey, another TUI F&B congresses this time Suneo Club with approximately 30 executive chefs and food & beverage managers with delegates ranging from Egypt to Spain.

Even though it was the first time I’d been out & working with TUI since Corona it was great to catch up with some of the returning chefs and meet some new members in the extended TUI group helping them to get ready for the coming season.


Back in Stockholm a couple of friends and I were called in to strengthen the corona riddled Beyonce catering team, Beyonce kicked of her tour in Stockholm, they were here for 10 days or so practicing and getting ready. We were working with a big international team of eccentrics, a cool gang with their own musical tastes, it was loud in the kitchen but entertaining. And Beyonce, very generous with her team catering.

Holland, Brazil, Paraguay

On the way we stopped off in Amsterdam and attended the PLMA trade fair, we were looking at own branding and diverse opportunities. The congress coincided with Bruce Springsteen, tourism and football. Hotel rooms in Amsterdam are a problem, expensive and yielded to the max, be out in good time if you are going there. & remember a cheap hotel in Amsterdam is a cheap, shitty, dirty, crappy & disgusting hotel room anywhere else. But Amsterdam has many attractions we ended up in the Ship bar, a bar I’ve visited on regular trips to the city since the early 1980’s, a great escape bar and melting pot of humanity.

Our next stop was Sao Paulo, a couple of nights in this enormous mega city, getting around is challenging, learning and using the public transport system during a short visit is impossible, it’s all uber and taxi everywhere and be prepared to get suckered. We even managed dinner in “A casa do porco” it was ok but nothing to write home about, we were surprised to see that it had been judged in the top 10 restaurants in the world. That dinner was my shout so I’m still positive about it.

Arriving at Asunctión airport was a bit of a time warp, we were the only plane on the tarmac. The airport seemed little dated and quiet.

Today Asunción boasts a population of ca. 500 000 with its surrounding areas with a daily fluctuation amounting to many times this number, but nobody seems to know or care. The old town or city centre is in various states of decay with many empty buildings and boarded up shopfronts. The old city centre is full of grand old colonial buildings echoing better times gone by. If they were renovated, the old city would become the pearl of the south as well as becoming a very charming and interesting city.

As you move out from the city centre areas of development, supermarkets, banks, hotels and the sterile west inspired shopping malls that only sell products with logo types pop up. Some are very upmarket and would make any affluent city proud, now-days its corporate logo types and western brands that dominate these malls “I’m trendy and have made it mentality”, exploiting and creating a dependency on material ownership.

a trendy bar and night life scene with some cool places, that pop up in the leafy suburban middle-class areas. Out on the street is the self-appointed parking tout, these in-official sharks are somewhat of a quality stamp, there’s no money to be made hassling outside an unpopular place.

The Beef and Charcoal road trip.

The drive through Asunción’s suburbs leads directly to the Puente Remanso Bridge, on the other side of the Paraguay river is the Chaco. The Chaco or Region Occidental (Western Region) is a semi-arid region in Paraguay, the surrounding Grand Chaco area spreads into Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil has a land areal of 1,100,000 km² or twice the size of France, of this the Paraguayan contribution is about the size of Great Brittan.

We drove about 7 hours and made it about two thirds up to the Bolivian border on highway 9. Leaving Asunción highway 9 starts off as a multi laned pot holed asphalt city street choking in all manners of commuters and transport, as the traffic thins out the highway is lined every 20 meters or so with lean to shops selling cheap Argentinian petrol and bananas. Further on up the road it’s bags of coal and our destination, the Jealous Devils charcoal burning plant a few hours further up highway 9.


There are some 25,000 German-speaking Mennonites living in the Paraguayan Chaco region.

The members of the amenno Colony moved to Paraguay from Canada when compulsory education in English was implemented in 1917. Some of the more conservative Mennonites saw this as a threat to the religious basis of their community. In 1927, 1743 pioneers immigrated from Canada to Paraguay and have since turned the arid Chaco into fertile farmland, they created the first Mennonite colony in the region.

In 1930, another wave of Russian Mennonites fled their homeland for the Chaco.They were fleeing Stalin’s man-made starvation tactics in the Ukraine, even more came in 1947 after the end of the second world war.

We visited a large Mennonite owned state of the art slaughterhouse, it was extremely impressive, spotlessly clean, well-organised, effective production flow and high-quality standard with a slaughter capacity of 1200 head a day. Most of the cattle here are grass fed although there are many feed lots and wagyu production as well.

According to the locals the salt rich pasture and water also contribute to the tastiness of the finished product.

In August I was back in Norway and Telemark, a short assignment this time at Dalen Hotel. The recently renovated Dalen Hotel is now-days a hospitality magnet in Norway’s Tokke municipality. The hotel was originally built in 1894 when the hospitality/hotel need grew and an overnight break became mandatory on the cross-country tourist trek that linked together the Skien – Bandak Lake and further westwards.

Food and Beverage is a focus area at Dalen Hotel which has a great kitchen, “design wise” very effective and well designed, a machine park and equipment that many kitchens only dream of. The food matches all aspects of the hotel, with a high ambition. There’s a great breakfast, as well as an afternoon tea to die for. Dinner is a 4 or 6 course tasting menu featuring a cornucopia of local produce, turbot, rainbow trout, trout roe, local duck and lamb. well thought out and presented.


October back in Dusseldorf and Cologne at the Anuga trade fair. It was the second visit at this mammoth exhibition for me, book your hotel room a year in advance if you’re going, or be prepared for lots of travel hassles if you’re out in good time.

Lots of positive input, connections and possibilities arose from the trade fair.

Stockholm food & Wine and Bake & Chocolate Fair

Back on the Swiss cheese stand, featuring Appenzeller and Gruyère two iconic Swiss cheese. Both cheeses are extremely well known and are very strong stand-alone brands. They are so well established in the Swedish market that they just sell themselves. Gruyère is strongly connected as a sponsor for winter sports, so its popularity stretches throughout the country.

December, ending out the year on a high note

Back on the tools working with two of Stockholm’s best Christmas smorgasbords, this 100% Swedish gastro experience should be attacked correctly, so if you are inexperienced you don’t want to cock it up and make a fool of yourself. Not being an expert on etiquette, take my advice only as survival tactics.

Your meal consists of five courses “visits to the buffet”, but again everyone has their own opinion.

Take a new plate and cutlery at each visit, your waiter/waitress should clear your setting each time you get up.

Some cultures think they should take loads of food to show their appreciation, this is a fool’s game, these guests only eat 10% of what they take & in our modern world it’s called food waste, and these individuals are the perpetrators.

Some feel that its courteous to leave food on the plate, we in the industry feel you don’t know how hungry you are or how much you can eat, you need to plan your meal so there’s no wastage.

Some try to cram it all on the one plate, some of these guests are just novices or ill informed, the locals that do this are ignorant to their own culture, we in the service industry laugh and mock them in silence and think they are idiots.

What to drink, Christmas soft drinks, beer, aquavit, wine, water ect.

The first course: Herrings & Baltic herrings plus garnishes, boiled potatoes, crispbread and hard cheese.

The second course: Salmon and other preserved fish, plus garnishes, boiled eggs with toppings, appropriate salads & dips, “nowadays the salads tend to be a bit more varied with vegetarian & vegan options, pickles and local variations.

The third course: Cold cuts and charcruterie, “here again are there lots of variations, sourced locally plus various game meats, mustard, pickles, the star here on this course being the Christmas ham.

The fourth course: hot, sausages, pork ribs, meatballs, vegetables, Janssons temptation, and often more potatoes, nowadays there is often vegetarian and vegan alternatives. Rounding off with sweets.

The fifth course: cheese and desserts, “this can be broken into two visits if needed” local cheeses of which there are many in Sweden plus a few international standards, various local and international fruit, puddings and conserves, chocolate, candy, toffee and old-fashioned sweets.

Enjoy the smorgasbord, these are the basic rules but obviously rule number one is, there are no rules, if you don’t like it hop over it and move on, but if you are curious try something new.

If you are going to a Christmas smorgasbord, get a bit dressed up, let your hair down, wear something a bit Christmassy, I guarantee you won’t be the only one with a bad taste Christmas jumper or Christmas hat.

Relax and enjoy yourself.