When Jonas Haag talks about his dream while growing up, it is the life today he lives. Even in his resume, he lists his work as his most important hobby. Born, raised and trained in Sweden — at Esther Mosessons Culinary School in Gothenburg — Haag began his career by working as sous chef in nearby restaurants. He went on to become the youngest executive chef in the region, beginning at restaurant Punch and also Restaurant Norre Kavaljeren, Hammarsbacke Hotel & Restaurant and Murvelns Steakhouse.
Haag also served his country as sergeant in the National Service Training Academy, then later ventured into the yachting world with a contract in the Med, cooking for Ivana Trump on the M/Y Ivana. He continued in yachting for many years, catering privately to clients like Rod Stewart, Roger Moore and Saudi Royalty.
My first food memory is “growing up on the west coast of Sweden (Gothenburg),” Haag said. “I remember fresh seafood straight from the fishermen at the dock as they landed. We used to have butter-fried oysters on toast for breakfast like other children would get cereal.”
When asked about the favorite dish he had made, he responded: “It’s hard to pick one, as in my profession we tend to gravitate towards the latest cuisine or ideas and it always changes. I think my favorite meal was the halibut we caught in Glacier Bay, Alaska, in 1998. We had caught a lot of salmon the day before, and we had to try and use the extra salmon that we couldn’t fit in our limited freezers. So, we smoked the salmon on the BBQ and made smoked salmon mousse that I topped with the oven-baked Halibut. On top, I made a Chablis sauce with cod roe and Pommes Duchess. I think our guests — who didn’t enjoy fish and seafood like I do — were converted that day!”
His favorite meal/experience:
“I had the opportunity to go to my favorite chef’s restaurant a few years ago. My wife and I finally had a chance to get away by ourselves after our two daughters were born. We went to Chicago and visited Charlie Trotter’s restaurant. It was a nine-course meal, and I would be lying if I told you I remember exactly what we ate that night, but between the incredible service and the cutting-edge cuisine, it was the most incredible experience!”
The craziest request Haag has gotten from a guest:
“It was probably 15 years ago, when a guest requested that I make his favorite meal that his grandmother used to make for him as a child. The meal consisted of extra-thick-cut bacon marinated in molasses overnight, double-battered and deep-fried, served with black-eyed peas, ham hock and cornbread. This was a man with stomach problems! Hmmm, I wonder why?”
His long-term dream:
“I’m living it! I’m blessed with the opportunity to work with the best ingredients, cooking for the most discerning palates, while operating my own company, Dish Culinary, which provides catering, private chefs and cooking classes.”
When talking about his company, Haag gets very enthusiastic to explain. “Here at Dish, our mission is to provide our clients with a world-class culinary experience. For those who don’t indulge in luxury year-round, a private chef for the weekend can turn their own home into their new favorite restaurant. For those looking to ‘wow’ their guests, we specialize in high-end event planning and execution. While our sophisticated menus are filled with signature dishes, we tailor-fit every menu to your wishes. Our culinary expertise ensures satisfaction for even the most discerning of palates.
“Nothing gives us greater pleasure than to share our love and passion for great food with our clients! My other passion in life is my family. Traveling with my wife and my two daughters has become my most precious times and memories.”
Haag is busy with freelance charters this summer, but still very actively pursuing his catering business, enjoying his family and living his dream.
Beverly Grant started her yachting career as a chef, then came on land and established the company Culinary Fusion, specializing in crew placement and catering, which she sold after 15 years. She now serves as director of crew solutions with IMA Yachts.