Imagine a Swedish version of Brad Pitt with the demeanor of a Tibetan monk and you’ve got Petter Nilsson. Born in a beachside town in southern Sweden, the Scandinavian has cooked his way through Mälmo, Copenhagen, Bordeaux and Uzès, in the south of France, where he developed a serious following at Les Trois Salons. Now he heads up the kitchen at La Gazzetta, a stylish bistro in eastern Paris with a no-choice prix-fixe that’s one of the best deals in town.
Nilsson’s cooking is as zen as his character: spare, unfussy, with lots of vegetables and practically no cream or butter. The French tend to write about the malice—or mischief—of his culinary style, startling rendezvous of flavours and textures such as poached egg with bergamot or octopus with salicornia. There is a certain delicacy to both the man and his cuisine. Confronted with a pig slaughter at Cook It Raw in Italy, he opted to create a vegetarian wild boar tartare, or, as he put it, “something more kind.”