Remembering Norwegian Culinary Legend Ingrid Espelid Hovig (1924-2018)

August 25, 2018

 

A dynamo and thoughtful. Astute at explaining culinary nuances and yet down-to-earth. Sharing and generous, passionate about home cooking, and modestly influential. These phrases all describe Ingrid Espelid Hovig. There are more descriptions, of course, but when thinking about who I’ve crossed paths with during International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conferences, Ingrid stands out.

 

Trained as a home economist, Ingrid was a pioneer in the first days of Norwegian television cooking shows, filming more than 300 episodes in her 30-year career, which started on Norwegian TV in 1956 when there were about 100 homes with TV sets.  In addition, Ingrid wrote about 50 cookbooks, and worked as a consultant for Gyldendal, Norway’s most prestige’s publishing company. It was a career that earned Ingrid Espelid Hovig the title of Norway’s Julia Child. She played a pivotal role teaching Norwegians how to cook and eat healthfully using local, seasonal ingredients.

 

Meeting Ingrid for the First Time

Maybe best of all for those of us who adore Norway and its culinary traditions, Ingrid was an IACP member since 1986, making the “I” in IACP vibrant and exciting. I remember first meeting her in 1994 at my first IACP conference in San Francisco, a whirl of long-skirted, lavishly embroidered bunad (Norway’s folk dress) at an evening event surrounded by other Norwegian women from the country’s food and beverage boards, all eager to share and discuss their country’s food traditions as well as explore the local American food scene. The group attended consecutive IACP conferences for 10+ years, with annual reconnections a conference bonus. (It’s true you’d have to run to catch up with Ingrid in hallways. She was small in stature, but her vibrant persona and signature froth of white hair made her memorable.) Over the years on my visits to Oslo, several opened their homes to me, inviting me for dinner or coffee, making my IACP connections even more cherished. I will also always remember a delightful lunch Ingrid treated me to at the famed Theatercaféen, as well as several pleasure-filled dinners shared with her at the home of Lars Rotterud and Scott Givot (a past IACP president).   

 

Ingrid’s Multiple Contributions to IACP

Ingrid enhanced IACP programs in many ways. She and her team provided several cooking demonstrations: Who knew baklava, a seafood favorite in Norway dated to Viking excursions into the Mediterranean? In 1996, Ingrid was the instigator behind IACP’s Culinary Tour of Norway, a week-long introduction to Norwegian food traditions and culture. The tour spanned the inaugural halibut and salmon farms in the West Coast fjords, a visit to 19th century kitchens at the Norsk Folkemuseum at Bygdøy Island, a short boat ride away from downtown Oslo, along with Norway’s acclaimed glass and linen factories, all destinations showcasing Norwegian creativity.

 

The IACP Lifetime Achievement Award

In recognition of her expansive culinary career and contributions to IACP, in 1997, Ingrid Espelid Hovig was awarded IACP’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She was the first non-American culinary to receive the annual award.

 

For all these reasons and many more, I will raise a glass of Linie aquavit (the best Norwegian brand!) and toast Ingrid Espelid Hovig. She enriched and inspired my career in the culinary world, as I know she did for many IACP members. A legend in her own time, her sparkle and enthusiasm will be missed but remembered with gratitude and love.

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