Freddy Storaker Bruu is food and beverage director at Hurtigruten. Here, he explains how the company is redefining on-board dining with a community-driven, sustainable approach.
INTERVIEW SHANEY HUDSON
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How has Hurtigruten changed its approach to food in the past decade?
Back in 2014 we decided to change how we work with local communities and local food. We are sailing up and down this beautiful coast, have this beautiful produce and fantastic suppliers, and this is so unique compared to anywhere in the world, so we launched Norwegian Coastal Kitchen. It’s been a big exciting opportunity and change in our operation, our service and our food and beverage teams. Instead of buying bulk from big wholesalers in one port, we receive produce from 15 of the 34 ports we visit every day, working with more than 50 local suppliers. We are minimising food miles and, most importantly, we have fantastic local Norwegian food, sourced as close to the port as possible. Then the challenge for us is to tell the story.
“ I think it’s all about the story behind the food.”
— Freddy Storaker Bruu
Why is telling the story behind the food important?
I think it’s all about the story behind the food. One of the challenges is how we share the story with passengers, since we don’t use printed menus any more. When, for example, one farmer delivered his lamb by boat from his farm down the famous UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjord this summer, we announced it over the PA. Passengers were peering over the side to see. I think that picture is what Norway Coastal Kitchen is about. Another time we invited a small chocolate factory to deliver some chocolate and sell some on the deck to passengers. We want the experience to be personal – it’s not about a big company, it’s about the person behind it. It’s about local communities. If you want to have a living country where small villages keep developing then we need to support them.
There’s a big focus on food. How does this approach apply to beverages?
Again, it’s the story behind it. There are a few distilleries opening up in Norway. When I was sailing through the Lyngen Alps during midsummer, there was a distillery serving Aurora whisky made from melted glacier water. It was an amazing feeling to share the story about this local whisky and see passengers react and enjoy this local produce.
How has the company Hurtigruten taken a more sustainable approach to food?
We care about the water, we care about the environment, so it’s important to care about what we can do to reduce our footprint when it comes to food. For example, every menu has plant-based alternatives for passengers. We see demand for it increasing, and the greenhouse gas emissions of plant-based based foods are lower than seafood or meat. It’s a normal part of our menu now.
How have passengers responded to this sustainable approach?
When passengers understand the reason behind it then they really respond. For example, on one of our expedition ships, there was a lecture on sustainable sourcing of food and sustainable farming. At the service directly after, 90 per cent of passengers chose a vegetarian option. It’s been really well received.
You have to cater for so many different tastes, but also have to consider availability, seasonality and sustainability. How do you design a menu?
We have a big variety, but we are built on the heritage of Nordic common sense and the Scandinavian way of cooking. Whether it’s fine dining or street food, we try to serve honest, consistent, sustainable, well-prepared, tasty food. That’s our goal.
Finally, what’s your favourite thing on the menu? What should passengers try?
I must say Norwegian king crab. It’s so fantastic. Also the ice-cream from our supplier in Lofoten!