“No avocados enter the island”

Astrid Regine Nässlander (27), the chef at Manshausen, has her principles.

She sorts her waste, recycles and composte. She doesn’t have a car. She grows her own greens. And she would choose quality over quantity any day. 

– Being a cook, I eat a lot of strange stuff just to save food at home, and in my personal everyday life, I don’t really pay attention to expiration dates. 

Astrid Regine Nässlander was the first to receive Kokkeprisen, which honors chefs that care for sustainability. At Manshausen Island in Nordland, surrounded by the ocean and the Northern Lights, she has decided to do things differently. 

Love for local

– I care for the environment both when planning short and long term. That means everything from packaging, amount, transportation, expiration and food waste. It’s kind of like Tetris, she says. 

No avocados or bananas enter the island. The same goes for meat that is imported or industrially produced. Or coconut milk and wine from overseas. This spring their supplier was out of Norwegian carrots, and since the only option was to import from Israel, they didn’t have that for quite a while. Soon this year’s carrots are ready, and Astrid will put it on the menu again.  

– I don’t have an issue adapting to the seasons, it’s good for us to run out of stuff from time to time. 

Her big dilemma is coffee. 

– It travels so far, is expensive and in many places, it’s very problematic from a societal standpoint. But it would be radical to run a high-end destination without coffee, she says. 

Photo by Santina Crolla

«Little, but good»

Her nickname at high school was «Øko-Astrid». She moved to Copenhagen alone at the age of 16 and became a vegetarian involuntarily by not affording meat that met her standards. 

She read up on food waste, consumption and how the daily decisions made in people’s homes affected CO2 emissions, local communities, and public health. 

– To us, «little, but good» matter. We focus on local and sustainable food, as opposed to a large, exotic selection of food that has traveled far and often contributes to food waste. 

She’s in dialog with guests almost on a daily basis, and they notice that for instance, the Manshausen breakfast is a bit different than others. 

– I favor products produced in Norway. Potatoes and celeriac, fish and meat from the region, mostly wild. And gorgeous dairy products from Røros, including local cheese from areas nearby. 

Making the world a better place

When looking at the industry as a whole, she sees takeaway and fast-food as the main issues. 

– In my eyes, it’s a societal issue that a basic need like eating has become something that should happen as fast and easy as possible. Absurd amounts of garbage are generated because people don’t eat at home or bring their meals in a box, she says. 

Recently, she was nominated a ‘leading star’ by D2 and Dagens Næringsliv, when speaking of 30 people under 30 that would make the world a better place. 

– I’m both proud and humble, I’ve worked hard to get this far, and I’m really thrilled when I’m heard because I feel that what I have to say is both important and necessary. 

Five tips from Astrid:
  • Keep an «eat me first» shelf in your fridge
  • Learn simple conservation techniques
  • Choose local, norwegian and seasonal food
  • Study, smell and taste food before you throw it away
  • Use leftovers! Old bread = croutons, bad milk = delish pancakes