8 questions with Aquavit’s new Head Chef: Jonas Karlsson

Nov 19, 2021 by

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Meet Aquavit’s new Head Chef – Jonas Karlsson. Born and raised in Sweden, Jonas is well-placed to create the innovative Nordic cuisine that Aquavit is best known for.

Jonas has worked in some of the world’s most established kitchens with over two decades in the industry and will now be bringing his expertise, skill, and sublime cooking to Aquavit!

We asked him a couple of food-related questions below!

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Photo: Aquavit


Hej Jonas Karlsson!

Tell us about your background in the food industry?
I grew up in the countryside with lakes and woodlands around the corner, so food from the wild was always plenty full at home. I mean, fish, berries, mushrooms, and so on…

I was exposed to the very finest of products from a young age. In addition to this, my grandparents had a small farm where chickens, cows, and pigs became food on the table each year. That is my first “food” memory. All this interested me, and I knew I wanted to be a chef from a young age.


Where did you work the latest? 
I spent the last five years at D&D’s flagship restaurant, at 100 Wardour Street in Soho.


How come you moved to London? 
The opportunities to be able to work in high-quality establishments are greater in London compared to back home. I had an opportunity to come here and will never regret it.


What made you join the Aquavit brand?
It’s a well-known brand, the restaurant in New York has gone from strength to strength for many years. I admire the space and the St James location around the corner from Piccadilly. At Aquavit I will be able to use first-class ingredients and keep the Scandinavian traditions alive but also be able to focus on modern European cooking.


Photo: Aquavit


What are your plans for Aquavit? Any new dishes to add to the menu? 
We will introduce the Christmas experience menu shortly, like a “julbord”, but plated and served as a tasting menu. Expect herring, julskinka, and of course ris al a Malta!


What’s Swedish food culture to you? 
Swedish food is meatballs and cinnamon buns. But it is also so much more than that. I think curing, fermenting, and smoking is essential to remember as our food culture.


Photo: Aquavit 


When you are lazy and hungry – what do you cook? 
If I’m really lazy, or if it’s late at night, I would eat some yoghurt.


Apart from Aquavit, which ones are the best restaurants in London that you cannot miss? 
It is so many good restaurants so it is almost impossible to say… But two favourites would be Elystan street and Odettes.