Two times Norwegian cooking contest champion, manager and institutional chef who fell short of becoming a police officer, has been at the helm of the Molde Campus kitchen since 2010 with no regrets after all.
By MONICA AKECH SYSTAD and PAVLA UJMIAKOVA (photo)
Tone Anita Åbelvold, Molde University College’s (MUC) canteen manager and chef, brings a wealth of experience to the sumptuous meals and salads consumed by majority of students and staff on a weekly basis.
Barely two weeks after giving birth to her daughter, she entered the Norwegian cooking contest, which had very many applicants but only six were picked, and she was among them. Together with her partner Vigdvis Elvesen, they won for two consecutive years in 1996 and 1997, making her a much sought after institutional chef who sometimes gives lectures at various institutions on healthy eating habits.
LES MER: Free tuition and free food
Her journey to becoming a chef did not come easy.
“My intention was not to become a chef, but a policewoman. I failed because I could not see well. They needed -1.5 and I had -4.75,” Åbelvold says.
After failing to achieve what she desired most, Tone worked in several fields within a year before eventually finding out that she was good at cooking and therefore stuck to it.
“I worked in several jobs to know what I was good at and when I began cooking, I loved it and never went back.”
After moving from Oslo to Molde, her husband’s hometown, her career highlights included working at Molde Sykehus as a secretary, Fylkehuset I Molde where she was managing the canteen for ten years before joining MUC in 2010 as the canteen manager and chef, a position she holds to date.
Under her management are four employees, some of them having the most interesting personalities, like Norway’s strongest chef – Asgeir Hoel who keeps up with food trends – and party animal of the year Marius Ullaland. Her son and his friend help out on specific days from 4am to 6am with preparing the sandwiches, hamburgers and light dishes.
LES MER: Norges sterkaste kokk
The mother of three relishes in her management style, which she calls open.
“They can tell me anything they want and share their opinion. We listen to each other, you know, we spend 80 percent of our time together.”
While acknowledging the fact that the canteen makes more money on healthy compared to unhealthy food, she praises students for being conscious of what they eat.
“The students tell us what they want to be served and in most cases they choose healthy foods, which is a good thing.”
Depending on the time of the year or activity students are involved in, she recommends different eating habits. She particularly points out a common trend among students during exam periods.
“Many have a tendency of taking Red Bull and chocolate so that they can maintain a high concentration level. Though it helps, it does not give a constant high, but fluctuates and one has to keep taking more of it to maintain high concentration.”
Her love for baking is evident on her face as she marvels at the thought of designing and preparing cakes, however her favourite dishes are rakfisk and pinnekjøtt, Norwegian dishes that are eaten on special occasions.