ARKET are out to improve the high street shopping experience, partly, with the help of food. We checked in with Martin Berg, chef and curator of ARKET’s Nordic café to chat favourite pieces from the collection, fishtail parkas and childhood memories

ARKET is not like other high street stores. It’s as if they are out to right the wrongs of retail and make you fall in love with shopping all over again. At ARKET, there’s space to move. Their wares feel curated, laid out with care rather than giving the impression they’ve been smashed out the back of a piñata. Their stores are bright, airy and best of all, they have in-store cafés. They’ve injected a bit of Scandi’ into shopping and the results are wonderful. Part of this is down to chef Martin Berg. One of the early proponents of the New Nordic food movement, Berg has worked closely with the ARKET café to develop a menu that celebrates local produce, traditional healthy food and simple recipes. We caught up with Martin to quiz him on food, clothes and his favourite pieces from the ARKET collection.

Hi Martin, straight off the bat, what is your guilty pleasure food?The Tronchetti pizza at Café Dello Sport in Stockholm.

Nordic food is a big inspiration for the ARKET cafe menu. Do you have a favourite food city in your native Sweden outside of the capital?Malmö is a very interesting city with a lot going on. A lot of different cultures that are merging to create something really cool.

What’s your earliest memory of food?Having fights with my mother about how I wanted the food to be served. For example, not wanting to have my pork chops braised in the pan after searing and always having the sauce on the side. Her reply was “okay but you will understand when you’re older”. Now when I think back to that, I know that she, of course, was always right.

What’s your most cherished item of clothing?
An old vintage fishtail parka.

What do you think has been the biggest change in the service & hospitality sector over the last 5 years?
People’s knowledge and demand for better quality food and service on a broader scale. It’s not only in fine dining restaurants or fancy hotels where you’d expect top service and great food. We demand it from food trucks, small local restaurants, cafés etc. and I believe that the places that will survive in the future are the places that deliver that. And it’s not a case of serving the most expensive ingredient. It’s also about delivering a personal, humble and crisp version of your product that you believe in, that goes for a cup of coffee or a 22 course meal.

Is the customer always right?
There is a customer for everything. First you have to be very clear with what you are serving. If you are clear about that, then it will eliminate the risk of people looking for something that you don’t have. Then of course you have to have your antenna up and listen to what the customer wants. But don’t lose your own concept. Stay humble and keep your integrity.

Finally, if you were not involved in food, what would you be doing instead? What career?
Playing music. I’m just a drummer trying to keep it together. Actually music and food have so many things in common. It’s like having a concert with the band every time you cook together in the kitchen. To constantly deliver to a very demanding crowd.

Words by Davey Brett
Image Credits by ARKET