Jacob Holmström was born and raised in the small city of Halmstad on the west coast of Sweden. The year Jacob was born, his father opened his restaurant called Stefan Holmström. Naturally, Jacob was practically raised at the restaurant.
He went to the restaurant school in Halmstad and also worked at his father’s restaurant. After finishing his schooling, he spent a year in Gothenburg at a restaurant called Linnéa, that’s were he first met Anton, with whom he now runs Gastrologik. When the restaurant was closed for the summer he spent that semester working on a small Relais & Châteaux place in Torekov, which is a little bit like Biaritz but in Sweden.
After Linnéa, he spent two years in Oslo, working for Eyvind Hellström at his restaurant, Bagatelle, which back then was a two Michelin starred restaurant. This was a really important time for him. It was his first time working at Michelin starred restaurant, a place where he got to work with top quality fish and shellfish.
After two years at Bagatelle, working with everything from garde manger to fish and meat station, he felt a need to move on, and France was the natural choice.
He went to France and Paris in spring 2005, with nothing but a few of his belongings. He soon found an apartment and started to look for work at all the great establishments but nothing really paid off. Then he got in touch with Pascal Barbot through a friend who was working at Lástrance. Pascal arranged for him to start as a commis in the kitchen, and, within two months, he got promoted as a chef de partie.
He stayed at Astrance for two years and in the last year, when Shuzu who now runs Quentessence in Tokyo left; he started working as a second in the kitchen. In January 2007, the restaurant earned its third Michelin star and Jacob stayed with them until April that year.
Post his stint in Paris, he moved back home to Sweden but to Stockholm this time around. Here he started working with Mathias Dahlgren during the opening of his restaurant, Mathias Dahlgren. He worked there as a sous chef until April 2011 and in June 2011, he and Anton took over a small restaurant in Stockholm. They renovated the place and opened the restaurant, Gastrologik, on October 27th, 2011. In 2013 they got their first star in the Guide Michelin.
His time in France and later with Pascal, at Lástrance, was probably the time that influenced him the most. Pascal’s techniques, his, sometimes, unusual ways of cooking and his way of treating all produce equal- everything from a carrot to a truffle was treated with the same respect- is something that has shaped Jacob as a chef. He would like a to create a similar atmosphere at Gastrologik as that of Pascal and Christoph’s small restaurant on rue Beethoven.
What he misses the most about France, is their great understanding about producers and produce, in Sweden, people sometimes forget that everything they eat comes from someone, somewhere. While in France, people seem to have a good understanding of what they put in their mouths.
At Gastrologik, they try to work only with the supply of their producers and not by creating the demand that chefs sometimes do. For example, if they had a traditional menu with turbot on the menu, then they would have to buy turbot every day of the week regardless of the quantity of supply. But instead, if they work without menus, then they can buy turbot when it is at its best and buy something else when it is at its best. Which is exactly what they do at Gastrologik. That’s the biggest upside of working like they do.
They start their weeks by going to their gardener (close to the restaurant) where they help out with the harvest. This is where the week’s menu begins to take shape. After that they pick up dairy, eggs and poultry from their different producers around Stockholm. Jacob talks to the fishmonger every day for fresh fish and shellfish but he never places an order right away, instead, he first listens to him and lets him explain what is best choice for that time, regardless of the price. Hence they have had everything from lobster, sea urchins and turbot to mackerel, anchovies and blue shells on the menu. The price is not what makes the produce exceptional; it is the quality that does that. He would rather serve the worlds best mackerel than serve a two-day-old turbot.
Working this way, without asking for a certain produce but by listening to the producers and what they have, guarantees that they always have what’s best in that moment of time. The downside is that it takes a lot of effort and time, but he could never work in another way.
It also makes it possible for them to develop and discuss the produce since there are no middle hands. Always talk to the producer, not the reseller! And that is the Logic of Gastrologik.