Behind The Scenes: Kitchen Hero- Christmas Special!

What a total whirlwind of a weekend!  Last Thursday myself, Sofie, David the producer, Billy the cameraman, Ray the soundman and Anne who looks after continuity all headed over to Stockholm, Sweden to begin filming for the Kitchen Hero Christmas Special episode which airs on the 21st of December on RTÉ One at 8.30pm.  Why Sweden you might ask, well one of the first food related jobs I had was in a restaurant on an island off the coast of Goteborg.  Myself and three others had the job of producing masses of traditional Swedish Christmas dishes for guests who would get to the island on a boat.  On the journey over, Sofie would serve them Glogg (Swedish mulled wine) and Pepparkakor (Crisp Gingerbread Biscuits).  Some of the first Swedish words I learned were food related, and they have some really interesting and unique dishes so I was really keen to give Irish viewers a taste of the Swedish Julbord, a buffet of Scandinavian tastes!

We were due to film at Julbord restaurant the evening we arrived but unfortunately all didn’t exactly go to plan! The Swedes are incredible time keepers and don’t suffer late Irish camera crews too gladly even though we were LITERALLY only 5 minutes late!  There was a bit of a scramble to find another restaurant to film at, but we got really lucky and found a beautiful one in the centre of the old town in Stockholm where we were shooting at a Christmas market.  Friday, we were up early to head out to the kitchen of one of my very own Kitchen Heroes, Leila Lindholm.  I was like a kid in a candy store when we arrived at Leila’s test kitchen, she has shelves upon shelves filled to the brim with cakestands, vintage kitchenalia, and just some of her 12 strong kitchenaid mixer collection!  Leila cooked up a classic Swedish candy called knack which are like little toffees and then her own twist on the highly popular (in Sweden) saffron buns!

Once all our filming in Stockholm was done, we were back on a flight and headed up to the north of Sweden, just above the arctic circle where the famous Ice Hotel is located just outside the town of Kiruna.  It was an amazing location to shoot at, and we kicked things off by meeting our guide Camilla who gave me the history of the worlds very first ice hotel which started over 20 years ago and is constructed entirely from ice formed in the Torne River right down to the glasses the drinks are served in.  I arrived wearing all the wrong clothes for the -15 degree weather including a pair of converse which had my feet like mini ice blocks, so after a complete Ice Hotel makeover, I was nice and toasty and ready for a spot of ice sculpting which was great fun!

The real highlight of the filming in Kiruna for me was the tour of the rooms at the ice hotel.  Each one one is completely unique and sculpted by hand by artists from all over the world.  The ice rooms are really cold so you are advised to sleep in long johns in a sleeping bag on top of reindeer skin covered ice beds and the best tip was to keep your shoes in your sleeping bag so they don’t freeze overnight!  For the closing piece of the program, we filmed under the northern lights, cooking a sweet and creamy, cinnamon spiced rice pudding over an open fire for the artists, it went down really well and is a super recipe for the festive season.  The Kitchen Hero Christmas Special will be airing on Wednesday the 21st of December on RTÉ One so make sure to tune in for lots of Scandinavian Christmas inspiration! 🙂