Gordon Ramsay on Why He Loves Norway — and Eating the Best Scallops He's Ever Tasted for 'Uncharted' Season 2 (Video)
Plus: fjord fine dining, Norwegian gin, and Europe's next up-and-coming food city.
Gordon Ramsay is perhaps best known for his swaggering personality as a TV chef — and, of course, the many restaurants and Michelin stars he has to his name. But on top of the success of Hell's Kitchen and his cooking competition show empire, Ramsay has recently taken on a new role: travel host.
On Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, the celebrated chef travels to remote destinations around the world to learn from locals about the ways they eat, drink, and live. Season two, which premiered on National Geographic on June 7, sees Ramsay traveling from Tasmania to Guyana, Sumatra to the Louisiana bayou. But one of the chef's favorite destinations from filming was just a few hundred miles from his home in London.
For Travel + Leisure's May Europe issue, we spoke with the chef about his culinary adventures in Norway, home to both centuries-long culinary traditions and some of the most innovative cooking on the continent. Catch his Scandinavian experiences in the series finale on July 19, and read on for a sneak peak of Ramsay's Norway highlights.
Travel + Leisure: Why did you want to go to Norway for this season of Uncharted?
Gordon Ramsay: "Norway’s cuisine is among the finest in Europe. Of course, I was familiar with amazing Norwegian seafood and cured fish products, but I didn’t know much about the other incredible ingredients and classic dishes. So I was curious to learn more about the region, and to see the people and ingredients that make this the amazing place it is. Plus, I love diving — diving in the fjords in winter sounded so thrilling."
What were some of the most memorable meals that you had in Norway?
"On one cold, exhilarating day, I got to dive for scallops off the southwestern coast. I’ve never had scallops from such a pristine setting, but more importantly, I've never had scallops that tasted so fresh. But I’d have to say the most unusual meal was reindeer blood pancakes….I don’t think those will make it onto the Ramsay Christmas menu any time soon!"
What was your favorite culinary destination in Norway?
"When it comes to food, Bergen can’t be beat. I absolutely fell in love with Norway's second-largest city while we were filming. The mountains, the fjords, the Nordic design. Everything about it is stunning. I tasted some of the best seafood of my life during my few days there. When you have such incredible ingredients in your backyard — from sheep to rockfish to reindeer — the food is going to be top-notch."
Did you have a favorite meal there?
"My guide in Norway was chef Christopher Haatuft, who helped put New Nordic cuisine on the map with his trailblazing Bergen restaurant Lysverket. My meal there was incredible. Christopher and his team are known for elevating traditional recipes like fish soup using fjord-sourced produce and modern techniques. Obviously, he is at the top of his game, and the food he serves out of that tiny kitchen is outstanding."
What else should food-lovers look for in Norway?
"One cool discovery was fanaost, a Gouda-style cheese that’s produced at a farm called Ostegården and recently won first place in the World Cheese Awards. Even the drinking was amazing. Bareksten Spirits in Bergen is producing a London Dry Gin that any Brit would go crazy for. If you visit in the winter, try to go in December for the Christmas market and Norwegian Christmas treats. But the summer is also breathtaking. Sit outside, take in the amazing setting with a local beer, and enjoy the freshest seafood you’ll have anywhere in the world."
A version of this story first appeared in the May 2020 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline Bergen on My Mind.