Standing at the set tables to the dinner party at Matsmak, wearing a pink pleated Tadashi gown with vintage gold tone jewellery.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, D Neikter Nilsson, CM Cordeiro-Nilsson, Sweden 2009

The public defense of my doctoral thesis was followed by a dinner celebration held at Matsmak with Mikael Sande as Chef de Cuisine.

The evening event was surreal in the sense that Mikael’s restaurant had just moved to its new location at Drakegatan 1 in Gothenburg, and we were able to book the entire restaurant on a Saturday evening for ourselves. The restaurant, being located in a building with mainly offices, also meant that our guests had the entire building to themselves to enjoy that evening.

Dining with Mikael, a Swede who was born along the southern French coast, is always somewhat of an adventure. Having been the Chef de Cuisine to the annual gala of the Western Swedish Academy of Gastronomy for the past four years, Mikael is reknowned in the industry for his skill at combining flavours, to come up with something new and exotic in taste. If you’ve watched the movie, Ratatouille and seen how Rémy’s mind exploded in little fireworks of ecstasy, you will most likely understand the experience.

We had our seating outside of the restaurant, in the inner courtyard of the building that had white marble floors and a skylight roof that allowed the evening Scandinavian summer sun to stream through to the tables, where the light reflected pretty prisms off the rims of the wine glasses. Tall potted palm trees turned the inner courtyard into a cozy garden, so that you felt as if you were dining outdoors on a languid summer’s evening.

As we sat in anticipation for this dinner, Mikael explained to us how the dinner would proceed, that he would now start to cook and that the various dishes would come out to us from the kitchen one by one, when they were ready and that the time between the dishes would be depending on the variations in cooking times for them. Since all guests seemed to be ok with that we soon had the first dish, a vongole and spring onion soup in front of us. The choice of wine proved to be a very good one.

My husband, Jan-Erik Nilsson, during the cocktail session before dinner.

We had a cocktail mingle session with sparkling white wine before the actual dinner. This gave our guests time to acquaint themselves with each other if they had not already done so earlier on during the day. I was most happy to see a few friends and colleagues who had already graduated from the university, present at this dinner. It was like a reunion of sorts where you could catch up with what was going on in their lives.

The theme of the dinner continued in its French-Italian theme from the lunch buffé, though in this event, it was Mikael Sande who was in charge. Menus were printed for each guest with their names, according to their mother tongue and placed at their respective seating places.

Getting seated and making new acquaintances.

Glasses filled with Santa Digna sauvignon blanc.



A view of the dinner table when one of the dishes were served: roasted prosciutto di Parma, atop a small glass of aubergine and garlic crème.


Snail cocotte espelette.

Roasted prosciutto di Parma, atop a small glass of aubergine and garlic crème.

Seated next to my second Supervisor to my PhD thesis, Professor Joseph A. Foley.
Joe was also my Honours and Master thesis supervisor when I was studying at the National University of Singapore.

Dinner was nothing short of a symphony. A sampling of what Provence and Tuscany could offer at this time of the year, served in Gothenburg, Sweden. As the evening wore on, we left our guests to sit and talk the rest of the night, till the early hours of the morning.

This dinner will be an unforgettable experience in my life, because of the good company and the prepared to perfection gourmet food served by Mikael and his team. As one of my supervisors said, “This is the end of the beginning!” And yes, I’ll skål to that!

Disputation Dinner Menu. Saturday, 9th May, 2009. 18:30 hrs

Welcome drink
Vin mousseux

Antipasti – a bouquet of small entrées

Vongole and spring onion soup
Olive toasted asparagus with parmiggiano
Roasted prosciutto flakes with aubergine and aïoli
Snail cocotte espelette
Bruschetta with basil and tomato
Gambas with roasted garlic and olive salad
Wine: Santa Digna sauvignon blanc


Grilled squid with spinach salad
Risotto with scallops
Grilled duck breast with foie gras, rosemary and grappa
Truffle steak

Cheese assortment

French and Italian


Créme brûlée
Mousse au chocolat
Wine: Pineau des Charentes 10 y

Chef de Cuisine: Mikael Sande

Menu in Swedish:

Mellan Florence och Provence

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro-Nilsson PhD disputationsfest
Lördag, 9th Maj, 2009. kl 18:30

Mousserande vin

Antipasti – En bukett med förrätter

Vongole och vårlöksoppa
Olivrostad sparris med riven parmesan
Rostade parmaflarn med aubergine och vitlökkräm
Snigelcocotte espellette
Bruschetta med basilica och tomat
Gambas med rostad vitlök och olivsallad
Vin: Santa Digna sauvignon blanc


Grillat bläckfiskspett med spenatsallad
Risotto med pilgrimsmussla
Grillat ankbröst med foie gras, rosmarin och grappa


Fransk och italiensk

Lite sött och gott

Vin: Pineau des Charentes (10 år)

Mousse au chocolat
Créme brûlée

Rätterna serverades en efter en, allt eftersom de var klara i köket. Vi hade uttryckt önskemål att middagen skulle vara mellan 19:30 till 22:00 och exakt på slaget avnjöt alla sitt kaffe till den sista deserten, en Créme br&ucirk;lée med usäkt krispig sockeryta och den sista droppen Pineau des Charentes. Tack Mikael med stab; ett mästerverk.

Chef de Cuisine: Mikael Sande