From Kyoto
— to the Oslo Fjord

For the Japanese chef Masayo Funakoshi it is vital to have close bonds to food producers and foragers. She is also an artist at heart, which shows in her cooking. We went fishing for food in the picturesque Oslo Fjord.

So quiet. We are in Båtstø, a tiny, quaint village along the Oslo Fjord roughly an hour drive from the city. Waiting for Kjartan Fønstelien to take us with him in his beautiful, wooden fishing boat. It’s the cutest of things, standing on its own across the bay from the other, more modern sailboats and small cruisers.

Chef Masayo Funakoshi arrived in Oslo from Kyoto this morning, not wasting any time before going exploring. Kjartan gets the boats old diesel engine started, it gives off this wonderfully calming sound that you rarely hear anymore.

– It sank the other day, Kjartan says, referring to the boat we are now standing on as it leaves shore and potters out on the fjord. Salt water washes over deck from one side. Comforting news.

– Old boats like these do take in water. You have to tend to them every other day to make sure they are ok, he says with a smile.

The wind ruffles our hair as we head towards Håøya. We are not far from where the German war ship was sunk 9. April 1940, saving the Norwegian king from being captured.

Masayo Funaskoshi met Food Studios Cecilie Dawes during a MAD conference last year. Recently, the Food Studio crew visited Kyoto and did some wonderful events together with the excellent chef.

The Tokyo born Masayo chose to leave the bustling city for the smaller Kyoto to be closer to the source. Close to the farmers whom she visits often. For her, identity, dialogue, and knowing exactly where the food comes from is vital. The 39-year old didn’t plan to become a professional chef, but studied art and worked as an artist she wasn’t hundred percent happy with her choice. Something was lacking. That’s when she realised, all the evenings spent helping her mother in the kitchen, cooking for friends and family from a really young age – this was her true passion in life. And, as she continued to explore; food and art are very closely related.

– Cooking is my way of communicating with people, she says.

Dressed in a rain coat she is puling and pulling on the never ending fish net with strong arms. It is heavy, and for a reason. We harvest several codfish, different types of flounder and lots of sea urchins. Unfortunately, they are empty as it is not the season for the delicious red roe. Kjartan spots a large Osprey circling its nest balancing remarkably at the very top of a thin, ragged pine tree. We spot a tiny birdling popping its head up from the nest wondering how it deals with rainy days… Sun is getting lower, leave this almost golden light over the fjord. Its breathtaking. The wind has seized. We are at peace.

Masayo decided to quit art and enrolled in Institute of Culinary Education in New York. She worked in some of the city’s most famous restaurants, Blue Hill and Union Pacific, before travelling all over the world with her cooking skills. She now works as a freelance chef, having to freedom to choose interesting projects, blending cuisine from various countries, creating her own fusion.

The next day we spend in one of the countries most beautiful spots; Heggeli Farm in Nannestad, where Masayo cooks up a storm. The evening is candle lit, and the long, communal table filled with excitement. Seared cod with braised potato in cod broth and nettle pesto and deep fried flounder with garam masala is on the menu, living up to all expectations – and beyond; beautifully created and tasty works of art.


Words by Tina Aasen

Photographs by Monica Løvdahl

Documentation produced in collaberation with Nofima – Innovation Programme