Kalle Bergman – The Swedish Editor-in-Chief for Honest Cooking in NYC

I would like to introduce you to Kalle Bergman who is Editor-in-Chief for Honest Cooking. That is an international online culinary magazine that truly changes the face of online food media. Honest Cooking features over 300 of the world’s food & beverage writers, bloggers, photographers and Chefs, in a magazine that aims to become the leading and most inspiring place for serious culinary debate, salivating recipes, interesting food news and international food-fun. They aim to be smaller, quicker, funnier, smarter and more interesting than all of the current established food websites.

Kalle, please tell us about yourself ?

My name is Kalle Bergman. I am a native Swede who has spent about 11 years in Denmark, Spain, France and the US. Food writer and entrepreneur in the food media industry with a blurry background in advertising and fashion. I am the founder and Editor of the food magazine Honest Cooking. Family man with an amazing Danish wife Christina, and our beautiful son Charlie.

What is your typical day like in New York? Work and personal…

With a 9 month old at home, most of my personal life revolves around family time. I try to get home to dinner with my wife and son every day, and instead get to work very early during busy periods. I generally walk to work, and spend most of the day with my team in the Honest Cooking office in Manhattan, or visiting clients around the city. Weekends are dedicated to my family and friends, trying to get the most out of the city together.

What challenges did you face when you first moved to New York and how did you resolve them?

Mostly practical stuff, like getting a health insurance for my wife who was pregnant at the time, and making sure we had Internet and cell phone service hooked up as soon as possible. All that stuff is more or less the same wherever you move, just with a few tweaks here and there. It takes time, but is hardly ever truly difficult to figure out.

Has your experience in NYC has been vastly different from what you expected compared to for example life in Spain?

Actually not very different from what I expected, but certainly different from Spain. Living in Marbella was very casual, and wearing flip flops 10 months of the year made every day have an element of holiday, even if I worked about as much as here. New York City doesn’t really have that same vibe, if you know what I mean…

Did you experience ‘culture shock’ in USA. How different is it from Sweden or other countries you have lived in?

It took some time for me to get used to the open way of connecting with anyone, anywhere here. Like talking to random people in the street, the grocery store and the restaurant – the lack of personal sphere. Now, I am more used to it, and sometimes find it weird how people back in Sweden have such a hard time interacting with other people unless they really know them well.

How has your life as an expat influenced your personal and work life? Maybe some comments how you do feel being an entrepreneur in NYC differs from being one in European countries?

Hugely, it is of one of the most important aspects of my family’s life – that we live in another country. And we have picked up bits and pieces of culture and life from each country we have lived in. Being an entrepreneur in NYC is in many ways amazing, all the opportunities are here – but it is also very much the essence of being an entrepreneur here, no one else is going to do it for you. So just have to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself.
Another difference is that people are always very eager to connect professionally here, something we can learn from in Europe. We are often overprotective of our own networks, and miss out on opportunities. Here, on the other hand, sometimes you get connections very easily that turn out to be more or less useless – so you have to learn how to handle that as well.

What have you learned from being an expat? Positive/negative (WHY?)

That it is amazing to experience living in another country, and that most places – at their core – are quite similar. With the cultural differences peeled away, we have roughly the same passions, problems, fears and dreams. And the same stuff is going on in every city.
The negative aspect, especially if you hang out with a lot of other expats – is that you are saying good bye a lot. People move back home, so if you are not in that mode yourself, you will be “losing” a lot of friends along the way.

Have you done anything since moving to NYC that you never would have expected?

Not really. But I did become a dad after three months here, so that experience has been mind blowing enough.

What’s the best food discovery in NYC you’ve made as an expat? The worst?

Just the sheer volume of restaurants and new restaurants opening everyday. The worst is the pretzel, I just don’t get it. It’s too damn dry for me.

What was the biggest misconception you had about NYC when you moved there? (good/bad)

I think a lot of people expect NYC to be super cool, all the time, every day. But after a while you realize that most people you meet on the streets are not on their way to a fashion shoot or a red carpet event. They are heading to the bank, to pick up the kids or to buy groceries. And that’s when you realize if you truly love living here, of if you were better off just visiting from time to time.

What do you miss from Sweden or Spain? Is there any place here you consider really SWEDISH in some way in NYC.

I don’t miss Sweden as a country, but I miss my friends and family there. From Spain I miss the beach, and obviously 300 days of sun every year. We know all of the Nordic chefs in NYC well, so whenever we get homesick, we head for Aquavit, Aska, Aamanns or ACME for a Nordic dinner.

What’s the best thing and worst thing that has happened to you as an expat?

The best thing is all the amazing people and experiences we’ve had. The worst? I don’t know. Probably, again, all the good byes you say when people leave.

What do you like more in this country than in your own country? Or less…WHY???

I try not to compare them too much, I have enjoyed every single country I have lived in on its own merits. But I do love the sense of everything being possible here in the US, and how interaction with others is such an important fabric of society.

What is best about the area where you live…any other cities you would like to live in??

I love living close to the park, as it is such an oasis in this city. Other cities? I am open to anything, and my wife is too, but New York fits our lives very well. And business wise, I am completely focused on what we are doing here.

Where do you see yourself in the future? WHY?

I can definitely see myself and my family here in NYC in the future. It is a great city, and it provides so many opportunities for interesting developments and interactions.
We are not involved really with any organized international groups in NYC, but we have a lot of Scandinavian and European friends in addition to our US friends. We try to mix and match as much as possible, to avoid being trapped in our own culture.

Connect with Kalle Bergman at www.honestcooking.com

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