On a Sunday afternoon at the restaurant Vapiano in the Old Town of Stockholm , I met 33 years old Patrick Botlero. He was born in Dhaka in Bangladesh, grew up in Queens, New York, worked in Wall Street and then, as those things happen, fell in love with a Swede and moved to Sweden. The love for Stockholm has been everlasting.
Patrick is passionate about two things: music and risotto. Both great arts! He is behind a new venture: a risotto music ensemble and great risotto dishes.
“When it’s cold and dark outside, a plate of risotto just lifts me up. It makes me happy and I feel good inside. It would be selfish of me not to share my insight. So I invited some of my musically gifted friends over for dinner, cooked them my speciality. One thing lead to another and now I have the privilege of presenting to you The Dynamic Risotto Musical. The risotto we cook is so good that it makes us want to sing and dance.”
The Dynamic Risotto Musical band was at Vapiano. Patrick introduced me to Germaine Thomas (lead singer) from Queens, New York; Markus Henning (guitarist) from Småland; Vladimir Galdamez (vocalist) from Chile and Sebastian Wurtz (percussionist) born in Switzerland.
Patrick goes on the explain.
” Why Sweden ? “, Patrick
– So I had met this Swedish girl while studying in Spain and I was searching for something more meaningful, with more human values than just the daily grind on Wall Street of chasing and hustling for dollars. Wall Street? I had worked for four years in the financial markets before quitting it to come to Sweden.
” What are your memories as a child in Queens?”
– My dad has been a chef in New York City for many years now. I grew up in a home that was filled with warmth, food, and hard working parents. My uncle, together with my father, opened up an Indian restaurant. With time and a lot of dedication, their restaurant became popular.
– My dad’s kitchen was where I spent a lot of my childhood. I went to school and I studied business in college. From there, I went straight to Wall Street. It was quite a disappointing experience, to be honest with you. During my stint in the financial world, I also had a great discovery: a very good and trendy Italian Risotto restaurant in the West Village. In this place, I contemplated the idea of changing my career and going into the food business.
The year was 2011. Winter was dark, cold. – I needed something to make me feel warm. I ended up going to Italy. My first trip to Italy lasted three weeks.
It was the first of many visits to Italy to meet rice farmers, restaurateurs, chefs, cheese producers. – I began to feel like an Italian ambassador for risotto. And the questions rained down on me in Italy; How could I – from Bangladesh and the United States – to be so interested in risotto? That would be someone with Italian descent … I got myself soon a mentor – Luciano Parolari who has been the Executive chef at five-star hotel Villa D’Este on Lake Como in Lombardi, Italy.
Back in Sweden, he started to have risotto nights: – I would cook great recipes to my friends. They brought their musical instruments and I treated them to delicious risotto recipes. It wasn’t long before the idea for the band materialised.
He became convinced that risotto could make sense in Swedish cuisine . It is creamy, and it makes you feel comfortable.
– Whenever I am down in Italy visiting the risotto-rice farmers and discovering new risotto recipes, I always take the opportunity to take off my shoes and climb down into the rice fields. Then I grab the rice grains hanging from the plants and stuff my pockets with them. By having risotto-rice grains in my pockets, I am reminded of my dream every time I stuff my hands into them.
– My dream is to open a risotto restaurant in Stockholm in January 2015 with 20 risotto dishes on the menu each paired with its own wine.
So, next time you visiting Stockholm. Don’t forget to ask for a risotto restaurant.