If you think Electrolux only makes vacuum cleaners, then have we got a meal for you.
The Swedish manufacturer has recruited a rotating roster of the great chefs of Europe to create four-course lunches and eight-course dinners using its high-end home-kitchen appliances in an unprecedented setting: a custom-made, glass-enclosed kitchen and dining room called The Cube that’s perched atop Stockholm’s Royal Opera House, London’s Royal Festival Hall, and, previously, Brussels’s Parc du Cinquantenaire and overlooking Milan’s Il Duomo Cathedral.
It’s as if a foreign object had landed on some 19th-century buildings. It can be hard to imagine any company pulling this off in the U.S. Regulations would make the task even more onerous than it has been in Europe, where it took months to negotiate the placement of each cube, according to Electrolux Sweden’s publicity manager, Gabriella Picano, who adds that it takes nine days to erect.
Eighteen people at a time pay roughly $400 a person for the privilege of a remarkable gastronomic and architectural experience in a futuristic dining room with breathtaking views. Among the chefs have been Stockholm’s Mathias Dahlgren and Klas Lindberg; and Brits Tom Kitchin, Claude Bosi, and Daniel Clifford.
On a recent night in Stockholm, Co.Create was invited to a dinner crafted by Johan Jureskog in The Cube. The rising-star chef has been feeding Swedes for nearly 10 years at his famed comfort-food restaurant Rolf’s Kök (in case you’re wondering, in Swedish that second word is pronounced "shook," and means kitchen) and his subway-tiled cathedral of beef, Restaurang AG, where diners walk in to face a fully stocked meat locker. Jureskog says that when he opened AG two years ago, he made a splash in the local press for bringing the gourmet burger trend to Stockholm. "I had a vision of doing the New York burgers," says Jureskog, whose cheese-and-bacon-smothered creation can rival any of the best stateside. "I was looking to do a dish under 200 Swedish krona [about $30, with the current exchange rate], with handmade bread, handmade ketchup, mayonnaise, and pickles. I’m very proud of my burger."
Alas, Jureskog’s burger was not on The Cube’s menu, but his famed "Grand Cru," a luscious local cut of steak made by soaking meat for eight weeks in the fats of other animals, was the pinnacle of the dinner (vegetarians might consider dining elsewhere). The evening began with a noisy ascent up the rear of the opera house in a construction-style elevator. A quick jaunt on a catwalk along the top of the building led to the terrace of the minimalist, Scandinavian-style space. Queen was blaring through the speakers, and sparkling wine was passed out. Hors d’oeuvres of beef tartare with local bleak roe, followed quickly by beef hearts with beets, set the tone for the epic meal to come.
The table was set with colored markers and an abstract black-and-white pattern, designed by artist Martin Bergstrom and meant to encourage the normally reserved Swedes to interact. Of course, the free-flowing Brooklyn Local 1 beer and many, many bottles of Penfolds wines also helped to loosen up the table full of strangers. The staff let no glass go dry.
An early course arrived by hand and was placed on a large napkin (no plate!): a Flintstones-style ox leg cut in half to reveal the bone marrow, roasted and sprinkled with lemon zest and herring roe. Roar!
Electrolux’s The Cube has been fully booked, thanks to enthusiasm among what Picano deems "food nerds" and their desire for unique dining events. Sweet breads with coriander, rocket salad, shaved Italian truffles and veal bacon were among the courses on an evening that crescendoed with Joreskog’s presentation of his three Entrecotes, each one more rich than the previous: a cut of Scottish Highlands Cattle; grass-fed steak from Nebraska; and his treasured Grand Cru, made with Swedish Wagyu, all served with a hearty bearnaise sauce. The meal was capped off with a Penfolds dessert wine and steamed English pudding with raspberries and ice cream.
Aside from a stencil on the window, product placement in The Cube is surprisingly subtle. The quality of the food more than conveys the message that Electrolux’s European-market home appliances are worthy of world-class kitchens. "We’ve always had a steam oven in a professional kitchen, and now you can do it at home," says Jureskog, not intending to sound like a commercial, but genuinely raving about how it captures the full flavors of fish and vegetables.
Electrolux has never embarked on a pop-up so ambitious before this summer, though the company has dabbled in branded food events with its chef’s tables at recent Cannes Film Festivals. Still, little can compare to dining in midair surrounded by unparalleled views of Stockholm’s late-night light over the Baltic Sea and across to the Royal Palace.