MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Next Saturday, a Minneapolis chef will get to cook for royalty when the King and Queen of Sweden dedicate the American Swedish Institute’s new Nelson Cultural Center.

Jason DeRusha ate at Fika Café where chef Michael Fitzgerald creates clean, modern Scandinavian cooking.

Fitzgerald spent 10 years in some of the top Twin Cities kitchens. Now he runs his own at Fika.

“I wanted it to be successful,” Fitzgerald said. “I did not think success would mean a line around the restaurant every day.”

It is new Nordic cuisine — more than Swedish meatballs.

Behold an open-faced watermelon radish sandwich, with smoked chèvre cheese. Or the seared salmon, with a glorious tarragon beet puree.

Simple and clean — like Scandinavian design.

Everything is created in this kitchen; the delicious gravlax is cured in house, every sauce handmade.

“We bake the rye bread in house,” Fitzgerald said. “It comes from one of my cooks, who brought in a recipe from a neighbor who was a Finnish lady.”

It’s a sourdough rye – substantial and authentic.

Soon, this team will cook for the King and Queen of Sweden.

“They’ve had food from the best chefs in that part of the world,” Fitzgerald said. “I wasn’t going to try to top that. I’ll cook them what we do.”

In the meantime, he’s cooking for huge midday crowds, turning the 50 tables six times on most days.

Fika is open every day the museum is, located just south of downtown Minneapolis.

Jason DeRusha