Celebrity chef Thomas Keller wants Sweden’s Vikantomatoes, but can’t have them [classic article]

Well, you know if celebrity chef Thomas Keller — considered one of the very best in the whole USA — is forsaking his mantra of hyper-local and begging for Sweden’s Vikantomater (their trade name) they must grow one hell of a tomato. But, because they want to keep it a small, artisan production system, they can’t supply him. They do grow about 83 varieties of amazing tomatoes! I was very glad to be hosted to be able to experience it.

Owners Susanne and Mats Olofsson are the second generation of the family to grow specialty tomatoes in the Skåne region of Sweden — the southernmost point. Yes, they use a greenhouse — it’s Sweden, after all! But everything is grown naturally, with bees, etc., used as natural pesticides.

They themselves are not creating value-added tomato products, but other area artisans are, which can be purchased in boutiques, etc. It’s not something the Olofssons will rule out for the future, though.

When you are able to try out a number of tomato varieties side by side, you notice differences in color, shape, size, flavor and texture. Some tomatoes can have a more fruity than vegetable flavor. Well, technically they are fruits! Many of the varieties have a thicker skin than we might be used to in the US, but remember — these are natural, local to Sweden tomatoes. They aren’t generally “heirloom” per se: those varieties tend to be so unpredictable. Sometimes, the tomatoes cross-pollinate in the greenhouse itself and are unpredictable!

People love coming to the retail shop to select from all the types, creating just the kind of meal they want year ’round. Little kids grow to have a favorite variety, which is of course healthier than having a favorite ice cream.

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