Hanna Gabrielsson of Beaver Choice, Part 2
Yesterday we heard about the essence of Scandinavian food from Hanna Gabrielsson, the owner and chef of Beaver Choice. Today she shares more of her life story and talks about her tastes in food, books, and opera.
What are your own favorite items on the menu?
Oh I have several! I love Fish Bake, I love Captain's Fish. I am a fish person. I like Jansson's Temptation. I love the fish.
And are these your own recipes?
This is traditional but I always twist the recipes. I added a little more spices to Jansson's but it's like a general Swedish recipe. I add a little more cream, a little more onion....I don't serve what I don't eat.
You don't see Scandinavian food very often, especially at this price level and in this format....
This is like a high tech city, that's what I was thinking myself. Why there are no really European restaurants here? You have Italian all over, you have Mexican, you have barbecue, and you have few European.
Laxpudding at Beaver Choice, with dill mustard sauce, sauerkraut, home made coleslaw and beet salad
Perhaps people just aren't as familiar with this type of food?
People here they are used to beef and burgers, and they are masters of grilling, of barbecuing. I'm really surprised that so many people actually try this food. Most of the people don't know what cured salmon is, gravlax, people ask me what haddock is. I think it's because its the Southwest, just a different food culture.
What do you eat in your time off?
Sometimes I order pizza, sometimes we order Chinese, or Indian, or we go to Tott's Diner, I have my favorite dish there. It's Kung Pao Chicken but I add shrimp to it....I even eat junk food like chips!
I read a lot. I do the website myself, I love hand coding. I swim in my pool....I love to travel. We've been all over Europe, Asia, Africa....I love opera and classical music.
Do you have a favorite author or book?
Steinbeck. I've read all of his books a few times....I think Cannery Row is the best book....And I read everything. Right now I have my Kindel so I have tons of books. Right now I'm reading in English and I've read it in Swedish and Polish, Nineteen Eighty-Four. I read in four languages.
What about a favorite opera? Tannhäuser. I'm not much for Tosca or Madame Butterfly, I looove Tannhäuser. I think the best ever composer was Mozart and the Magic Flute and the aria Queen of the Night, oh my goodness, you could just listen to it and listen to it and listen to it. Then you have the overture to Tannhäuser, and then I love choir.
Do you get to enjoy all this stuff in Phoenix?
Now there's no time. I know that I have to work for three years more to really build this thing and then I will have more time. It's like yesterday I had a headache and there's nobody who can cook Swedish here. There is no Swedish chef available....It's a catastrophe if I get sick or any one of us, it's over.
You must miss the European lifestyle...
I think Europe is much more relaxed. We go to theater, we don't own huge houses, we don't have three cars, but I think the quality of life is higher over there. When I lived in Sweden I was once a month in opera, once a month, every month.
So why stay in the U.S.?
The first is the weather here, that is good for me. Americans are friendly generally. It's easier to have business here, it's much easier and much more profitable and I really like Americans. As customers they are much more easy going than Europeans. I have citizenship of three countries so I can move whenever I want. I love Europe for vacation, I wouldn't want to live there. I love Europe for those cafes, for those small streets, for the culture, for a three month vacation.
In two years or three years I would like to buy a horse property and have a restaurant on a horse property. So you can have patio and you can have music in the evenings....A kind of small zoo for kids to just pet [the horses]. Can you imagine small kinds that can go and pet them? It would be cool!
Check back tomorrow for Hanna Gabrielsson's tasty recipe for salmon skewers.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.