My Hero in the Kitchen-Sabina Gunnarsson

Posted on January 24, 2012


“Spiders, I can’t eat spiders!” was what I said when I was a young girl and exited for the holiday, called crayfish party. I hid under the table, which was filled with crayfish, so I wouldn’t have to see these giant red spiders on the guests’ plates. That was the story, as told by my master chef dad.

During my short lifetime I’ve been spoiled with delicious food. I grew up in a family where the quality of food was more important than how complicated or unique the meals were. Nothing was served if it didn’t meet the high standards of my dad, by whom most of the meals at home were cooked. That’s not too common. Normally it’s the wife who’s responsible for the meals. Therefore, I asked my dad, Hans Gunnarsson, why he took the responsibility to feed his family and he responded with a smile on his lips (speaking in Swedish): “Cooking is fun! I enjoy the many parts of it. I never want to be forced to eat. It should be fun both to cook the food and to eat it. I rarely eat just to feel satisfied.”

He made food into something fun and enjoyable, and he never wanted to force my sister and I to eat anything we didn’t like either. He always said that the food we found disgusting as children would grow on us. He was right. Today I eat many of the things that I wouldn’t have touched as a child. His strategy worked much better than the way my teachers in elementary school forced me to eat the Christmas sausage because today I still can’t even handle the repulsive smell of it.

Instead of giving the mean look that tells you that you can’t leave the table until you’ve tried everything served, my dad rather learned what we liked (or hated) and never made anything that we couldn’t eat. That way everyone was happy. We liked the food, and dad was happy because we enjoyed his cooking.

He served us what we liked, but also what he had an appetite for. Never has he been interested in eating guts, snails, or other creepy things like that. Like father like daughter, I can’t see this type of meat without gagging. Even listening to what we sometimes talk about in class results in a loss of appetite for lunch. Don’t get me wrong; my dad often experiments in the kitchen. Using all types of ingredients, making fabulous and expensive looking dishes, except he does it without the use of eerie components.

When asked about his kitchen experimentation he replied, “Experimenting allows me to be creative. To use a cookbook for me would be like cheating”. He started testing combinations and new ingredients very early in life, beginning at age nine. This was due in part because his parents were often still working when he arrived home from school. With no one else home, he had to cook for himself. But he didn’t mind and quickly he was used to working with the fresh and quality ingredients that his parents always bought, making elaborate dishes given his young age. Other times when he returned home, dinner was already on the table. But my dad would always look to add something to the dish, making it unique. That was how he became the chef he is today.

I’ve always looked up to my dad, especially as a chef. He’s extremely talented, but is far too modest to give himself a top score on a scale from one to ten. “It’s hard to put a number on it, but all the positive feedback and comments I get from my guests who have tried my food, makes me think I’m quite good at cooking”, he explained. As for me, I would do anything to be as good as my dad. Just by watching him work in the kitchen and asking him questions has been very helpful for me, and remains a favorite way to spend time together.

Hearing my dad say that cooking for his family has been a pleasure brings a smile to my face. What’s even more touching to hear was the last words he said as an ending of the interview: “It’s extremely fun to cook for my family, wife and two daughters, it’s great to see their appreciation. My family has supported me more than I could ever dream about. I’ve received so much praise for my cooking, which excites me to continue to improve. Cooking for people who appreciate your creation makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something great”.

Posted in: Student Posts