Karl Ljung 

inquisitive and always in motion

Karl Ljung, our Swedish Lavazza ambassador, is an inquisitive person, constantly seeking out the next challenge. He places great emphasis on the total experience of the guests who visit his restaurants, and he believes that a good meal always involves much more than the food itself. The ambience you step into at the restaurant, how it smells, the noises you hear, and how you are received as a guest by the staff. And, of course, the food. In Karl’s view, all these elements mix and merge to determine whether you enjoy an experience that is truly

great – or just so-so.

 

Karl Ljung is from Gothenburg, a city on the west coast of Sweden, looking out over the areas of the North Sea called the Kattegat and Skagerrak basins. Gothenburg is the “capital of Sweden” when it comes to fish and seafood. Pretty much all the fish eaten in Sweden is landed at Gothenburg and then

distributed throughout the country.

 

It was also in Gothenburg that he took the first steps of his journey to become a chef. One of the first places he worked was the Societetshuset event venue in Marstrand, which then led to employment as a chef at Westra Piren, a fish and seafood restaurant that was awarded a star in the 1992 Michelin Guide.

The bar at L’Avventura. Photographer: Danger Österlin


L’Avventura is located in an old cinema and is inspired by the ruined Italian city of Pompeii. Photographer: Jens Bergstrand


1999 is an important year in Karl Ljung’s life. This was the year he won the prestigious Årets Kock competition (Chef of the Year – the Swedish Championships in professional food preparation), an annual event that crowns the best chef in Sweden. Aged just 25 at the time, Karl became one of the youngest winners in the history of the competition. Today, Karl is still involved in the Årets Kock organisation, as a member of the board, tasked with working to lead Swedish gastronomy into the future.

 

Next stop in his career was a position at Operakällaren, one of the most readily recognisable restaurants in Sweden through the years, with one star and fully five sets of red cutlery in the Michelin Guide. Here Karl Ljung was given the opportunity to develop his culinary art.

 

On a number of occasions, Karl Ljung has been granted the highly sought-after honour of assisting in preparing the menu for the Nobel Gala Dinner. This is possibly one of the most renowned events in the world, held annually to honour the year’s Nobel Laureates at a dinner for 1,300 seated guests.

After Operakällaren, Karl took a detour back to Gothenburg, where he founded his first restaurant, Ivy Grill. It was now 2003, and Ivy Grill opened for business as an innovative steak house with plenty of vegetables on the menu and the stated ambition of becoming a new meeting place for the people of Gothenburg. The newspapers dubbed Ivy Grill the “Restaurant event of the year”.

 

Karl then became involved in Stureplansgruppen, one of the biggest restaurant and amusement groups in Sweden, which runs a number of high-profile restaurants, primarily in Stockholm. Here, Karl holds the position of Head Chef, as well as that of gastronomic director and creative driving force when the group is designing new restaurant concepts.

 

At Stureplansgruppen, Karl has been actively involved in the establishment of well-known restaurants such as Hillenberg, a luxurious, large-format restaurant with distinctive interior design. The restaurant serves dishes inspired by the culinary culture of Southern Europe, blended with Scandinavian influences. This is actually a concept dear to Karl’s heart when it comes to taste experiences.

L’Avventura’s loved Spicy Vodka Fusillone. Photographer: Jens Bergstrand


The menu at L’Avventura offers the full Italian experience. Photographer: Jens Bergstrand


Karl’s love of Southern European – particularly Italian – culinary culture is something that he has nurtured for many years. It stems largely from his family, given that Karl’s father-in-law is a chef from Calabria. Coming from this background, it was only natural for him to establish L’Avventura, a classic Italian restaurant with a little more of everything.

 

L’Avventura is a de luxe Italian restaurant that serves up the full Italian experience. The establishment is housed in an old cinema, with 11-metre-high ceilings and hand-painted walls dating back to 1927 and inspired by the ruined Italian city of Pompeii. It is known for its superior service, dishes from all parts of Italy, neatly served with carving trolleys and flambéing at the table – with every aspect designed to creating a lasting experience. Everything from the porcelain to the wines, spirits and – of course – the coffee, has been carefully selected from the best that Italy has to offer.

 

Karl takes care to highlight the producers in his work as a chef; “no producers, no ingredients”, as he succinctly explains. It is for precisely this reason that he devotes so much time to visiting the producers to talk to them and to smell and taste their wares, so as to find exactly what he’s looking for. He believes that Italy is a pioneering country when it comes to producing high-quality ingredients, and he loves the pride the producers take in the delicacies of their particular region. It is this inquisitiveness that has made L’Avventura a restaurant that stands out in many ways.

 

And true to his traditions, he is already on working on opening a new restaurant. Rumours abound of an exciting restaurant serving Italian dishes made with Swedish ingredients, and a bar where Vermouth plays a leading role. As we say, Karl Ljung never stands still.

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