The Heart Surgeon’s Cookbook – Up Close & Personal With Fredrik Berselius

Dr. Nirav Patel MD and Fredrik Berselius, phot credit: Getinge
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Book cover, Photo Credit: Getinge

The Heart Surgeon’s Cookbook – presented by Getinge is the creation of Fredrik Berselius, holder of two Michelin stars and Founder & Owner of Aska, in Brooklyn and Dr. Nirav Patel MD, an eminent Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon, also practicing in New York. The two have collaborated with Getinge, a global cardiovascular device provider, to create what they believe is “the world’s most difficult cookbook”. Highlighting the lifesaving skills of a surgeon, the cookbook presents nine recipes that only the most nimble-fingered will be able to achieve.

Thank you so much Fredrik for taking time to do this interview!

Before we dig in, a HUGE congrats on your new cookbook “The Heart Surgeon’s Cookbook“.  Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path and how it led you to collaborate on this book with a heart surgeon?

I came to NY after high school. I was on my way to study art and engineering to become an architect But took a job in a restaurant where they needed help in the kitchen and started cooking and fell in love with it. I was so intrigued by what I saw in restaurants and how they worked with ingredients using their hands, sharp knives, and other tools.

Early on, I dreamt of creating my own fine dining restaurant with dishes that could tell a story of where I was from.

After many years of working in and spending time in some of the best kitchens in NY and Europe, I opened my restaurant called Aska Cooking at a high level often requires meticulous and detailed work where you have to be very precise for long periods of time. Getinge, the MedTech company behind the book, contacted me and presented the idea of a book where we look at similarities between what chefs do in the kitchen and the work of a heart surgeon.

The goal was to find a fun and exciting way for heart surgeons to practice dexterity through cooking. As dexterity is a key part of my job and that of a heart surgeon, I jumped at the chance. I find the work of surgeons fascinating and impressive and of course was up for the challenge to make this book and come up with these recipes.

Another huge congrats on your 2 Michelin stars, what is that like and how hard was it to earn them?

Thank you, We received them for the first time 8 years ago and it was the most special moment of my career. We had opened Aska 2.0 only four months prior so this was a surprise that I will always remember. It is hard. It is fascinating but hard work. I spent an endless number of hours working in kitchens and studying in my free time.

Aska is the only 2 Michelin star restaurant in Brooklyn and there are only about a dozen in New York which has over 30,000 restaurants.

Our goal is to give guests the absolute best dining experience we can offer.

Photo Credit: Getinge

Can you share with our readers what are the skills they will take away from the cookbook? What is your favorite recipe? Which is the hardest recipe?

They can take away many from Getinge’s Heart Surgeon’s cookbook. They can improve their precision, hand-eye coordination and cutting edge dexterity. They will practice through tasks such as sewing cabbage dumplings with a needle and fine chive thread, making precision butchering of venison using a scalpel, and injecting beautiful langoustine meat with caramelized shellfish butter. They will practice their touch and feel when examining the density and texture of fish and other proteins.

Overall the goal is to become a better surgeon but also improve your cooking skills and learn about some of my favorite ingredients.

My favorite recipe is possibly the cabbage dumplings and the desserts. But all recipes are close to my heart. Sewing the dumplings together is definitely a challenge and might be the hardest. But also a fun exercise with a rewarding result.  

Are you working on any other exciting new projects? What is next for you?
I am always exploring new opportunities. Currently, I am working on a couple of new projects but everything is still in stages too early to speak about.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I never really had a mentor coming into this industry.  I always looked to my peers and entrepreneurs in general, especially people who pursued their dreams and worked hard to make their dreams a reality.

Can you please give us your favorite ”Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There are so many and depends on the day. There is a quote out there for every obstacle in the way there is a way to get past it or through it.

Perhaps the four agreements. “Be impeccable with your word”, “Do not take anything personally”, “Do not make assumptions”, and “Always do your best”.. 

What is the best way for our readers to follow you online?
Instagram and the restaurant’s newsletter. @fredrikberselius @askanyc

Will you be doing more cookbooks with other types of doctors? ie.Diabetic, Dialysis, etc…
Nothing planned, but I like the idea of weaving together thoughtful cooking with aspects of health and wellness. I am interested in how what you eat affects how your body functions on a daily basis as well during times of for example physical stress and exercise. But nothing is planned at the moment.

Photos are courtesy of Getinge