The New Taste of Kristiansand

Seeking to
define the new taste of Kristiansand, TNP caught up with both
celebrity chef and part owner of Bølgen og Moi, Trond Moi; and
entrepreneur, marketing guru and co-owner of Food Asylum, Narve

These restaurants
now putting Kristiansand on the culinary map, are part of a movement
to refresh and invigorate the modern culinary scene. This delicious
international standard food didn’t just arrive on its own accord, a
series of circumstances and a few people needed to align in order to
make it happen.

Bolgen og Moi

Light bulbs drape
their way here and there amongst the diners, surrounded by wooden
beams, large olive trees in pots and plenty of flowers. This
particular restaurant is the epicenter of the Bolgen og Moi
experience for Trond Moi, the famous chef whose name is on the sign
out the front.

Bølgen og Moi
actually began in Oslo, but Trond now chooses to live close to
Kristiansand with his family. Also, having worked with Kjell Nupen to
design the interior of the restaurant, for Trond, the Kristiansand
Bølgen og Moi has become the base. If you continue through to the
inside area, you are surrounded by the influence of Nupen, the iconic
artist from Kristiansand.

The concept for
Bolgen og Moi struck Trond like a lightning bolt. Walking into an art
gallery in Oslo he was so moved by the art, it sparked an inspiring
idea. An idea that would see him go on to blend food, wine and
contemporary art, in the creation of one of Norway’s finest
restaurants. As soon as he was able, he set up a small cafe inside
the gallery.

Trond began his
study of food in Kristiansand at an early age, and soon went on to
study in France. It was not long before he was a part of the
Norwegian Culinary Institute in Oslo, then touring with the Norwegian
Culinary Team. His direction changed, however, when he walked into
the art gallery that day. First, he needed some time finding his
style at the cafe. Then he sought out the best wine expert he could
find, convincing him to come and have a look at the cafe’s food.
The expert’s name was Torlaf Bolgen; as soon as he saw Trond’s food
he was hooked.

They set up their
first restaurant together in an old Oslo venue shortly after. They
had to start from scratch “I had no money” says Trond. “I
was working 400 hours a month. Sometimes, I would take a table cloth
and sleep in the restaurant, wake up, then start cooking again.”
It was hard going, but, bit by bit, they purchased what they needed
and began to grow. Fortunately, so has their friendship, blossoming
“like a good vintage,” says Trond. 

The food at Bolgen
og Moi, is not just accompanied
by modern art, Trond would say that it’s also influenced by modern
art thinking.
It’s about challenging the established norms, “I try to think,
what do people like to have? Why can’t they get it? What do people
want that they don’t know they want yet?” says Trond. “A
while back nobody wanted to make steak and chips. I thought, that’s
the type of thing I like, why can’t we do that? So we made nice
steak, with chips and homemade béarnaise sauce. It doesn’t get any
better than that!”

At Bolgen og Moi,
you can find international cuisine, often influenced by Norwegian
traditional food. Take Moi’s famous fish soup for instance, normally
a traditional dish, but at Bolgen og Moi it’s flavored with
lemongrass and soy sauce; a new take on an old classic.

The idea certainly
seems to be working, there are now seven Bolgen og Moi restaurants in
Norway. One of the newest, is located on a small island and can be
reached by a short boat ride from Kristiansand. Most of the
ingredients for the Ny-Hellesund Bolgen og Moi, are things you can
find within a forty kilometer radius of the restaurant.

Growing up, Moi
always felt like his family’s house was full of people; the door
was always open. This open house philosophy has been instilled in
Trond Moi and has filtered through to the whole team, “we want
people to feel at home,” he says.

Food Asylum

As the name
suggests, the theme of Food Asylum centers around madness. In an
endearing and playful way, the concept creates a curiosity that
inevitably leads you to the big double doors and the red carpeted
waiting area, hoping for a table.

Just off the main
shopping street in the centre of Kristiansand, Food Asylum is a
restaurant that specializes in modern sushi. It was a secret they
kept hidden until the launch, which was nearly completely preceded
with social media marketing. “We wanted to have fun,” says
Narve. “There were pictures of tunas in straight jackets. We had
pictures of our tradesmen holding chainsaws. We didn’t tell them what
type of restaurant, but when it came to the launch, there was a long

The interior looks
somewhere between a nightclub, a posh lounge room and an insane
asylum. This concept allows them to get away with some odd, but
brilliant, innovations. Things like whale noises in the mirrored
bathrooms, or belts being used as back rests on the chairs. There is
also an incredible coffee that is presented to you much like a
scientific experiment involving a Bunsen burner. To give the place an
abandoned warehouse look, a large portion of the materials have been
sourced from elsewhere and recycled. Like the bars behind which
vibrant sushi is made, are actually from a night-club that closed
down. “Our aim is that when you walk through the door, you leave
Kristiansand behind,” he says.

Narve began working
as a bartender at seventeen, then, in between his engineering and
business degree, he managed bars in the UK and Spain. Twelve years
ago he purchased the Kristiansand nightclub ’Kick’ and opened Food
Asylum in 2011. “But it’s the journey of the team that’s much
more important,” says Narve. To fulfill the demands of a modern
restaurant, the core group that kick started Food Asylum was certain
they needed great staff, “In this business you are nothing
without a good team,” he says, “We want this to be a welcoming
place, where you can taste, feel, where you can almost touch the
dedication of the staff and see the craftsmanship.”

“These are the
people making it happen. It’s about finding the right people and
putting them together.” The head chef for instance, Shigeki
Imura, continues to uphold the impressive quality of the menu.
Looking down at your plate, you are taken by the detail in the
presentation. “The colours of the food are nice because it’s
fresh. You see how orange the salmon is? That’s because it’s fresh
salmon,” says Narve.

“Things are
happening (in the food industry), it’s getting better. Our guests are
getting more quality, so there are more demanding guests and the
better we have to become.
a good time to be a restaurateur.”

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