MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If the first thing you think of when you hear “Swedish chef” is the Muppets character, then maybe you need to start thinking of Paul Berglund.

He has a picture of his felt counterpart in the kitchen of The Bachelor Farmer, the red-hot North Loop Minneapolis restaurant.

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“A liver pate is one of my favorite things,” Berglund said.

As The Bachelor Farmer opened, he couldn’t stop thinking about a Time-Life Cookbook he had as a kid called “The Foods of Scandinavia.”

“One of the chapters … was called ‘Sweden’s Groaning Board.’ So the chapter page was there and then across from it was a picture of a huge smorgasbord,” Berglund said.

The board was so heavy, the table was groaning. It’s a very old idea, but executed in a new, modern way.

“What we really have done is found inspiration in the northern region that we’re in,” he said.

Berglund was just named a finalist in the Best Chef Midwest category of the James Beard Award. It’s a great honor, which he partially credits to the national interest in Nordic food.

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“I think that that was a great sort of happenstance. You know, you can’t deny it; it was a really fortuitous timing,” he said.

Eric Dayton and his brother Andrew, the sons of Governor Mark Dayton, co-own the restaurant.

“I think maybe [the Dayton family connection] brought some early attention to the restaurant. But … it doesn’t make the food taste better,” Dayton said.

With nearly three years of non-stop success, there’s no doubt the restaurant is moving forward while getting better, and redefining the clean flavors of today’s Nordic cooking.

And it’s thanks to a real Swedish Chef.

“We’ve changed. Our restaurant has changed,” Berglund said.

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The Bachelor Farmer can be a tough weekend reservation to get. But every Sunday starting at 10 a.m., they serve a first-come, first-served brunch.

Jason DeRusha