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Articles

Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm (1866 — 1939)

As an expedition chef, Hammerfest man and Kven, Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm, was the only one who took part in the large polar expeditions of both Fridthjof Nansen, Roald Amundsen and Otto Sverdrup in the years 1898-1912.

He made sure that the crew kept deficiency diseases at bay, but also that the spirits and morale onboard were high. He later became one of the most experienced polar explorers, with several seasons on board hunting vessels and as an expedition member. In addition to the expeditions through the Northwest Passage and to the South Pole on board the «Fram» and «Gjøa», he traveled with Otto Sverdrup on rescue operations in the Kara Sea in 1914-5 after three Russian expeditions had failed. The famous expedition leaders learned to appreciate the good-natured chef, who worked hard to keep the crew motivated and healthy. Biographer Ekeberg describes him as follows: " Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm can play a clown with conviction, but he is in reality a social genius " (Ekeberg p. 11, our translation).

Adolf grew up in Hammerfest in a Kven family who settled in the city, not long before Adolf was born. He signed on to his first fishing boat as a fifteen-year-old, and soon turned out to be a capable worker. After working for several years on various boats along the Norwegian coast, he was commissioned in 1896 to cook on board the recently returned «Fram». This is how he became acquainted with the ship and with the owner Fridtjof Nansen and eventually persuaded Fridtjof to appoint him as a permanent chef onboard «Fram». Thus, Adolf became a polar chef. Adolf clearly appreciated his work; he was ashore in Norway for only 72 hours after the completion of the South Pole expedition before he set out again on the rescue operation in the Kara Sea in 1914.

There are no diaries or recipes written down by Adolf himself. The written material is limited to a small collection of letters. He is said to have been fond of reading, but not very good at writing (Ekeberg p. 7). Still, he was interested in and curious about the world around him, and on the various expeditions he often collected material for others to do research on.
His recipes were written down by others, and are often only partially complete, as Adolf probably protected the secrets behind some of his culinary specialties. His signature dish, Biff à la Lindstrøm, is perhaps his most famous recipe. There is some confusion concerning what type of dish this actually is, as there are different dishes with the same name.
Apparently, Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm’s Beef à la Lindstrøm is a proper piece of steak, preferably polar bear meat, marinated in stout and then cooked.
It became a popular dish in various hotels and restaurants at the time.

Initially, the plan was for Adolf to join Roald Amundsen on the Maud Expedition to the Northeast Passage in 1918, but on the way on board he suffered a minor stroke and had to retire from life as a polar chef. Adolf bequeathed parts of his inheritance to the newly established Maritime Museum in Oslo in 1938 and died at Ullevål Hospital the following year.

Sources:

  • Ekeberg, J. O. (2017). Et liv i isen : polarkokken Adolf H. Lindstrøm. Oslo: Kolofon.
  • Amundsen, R. (1908). Nordvestpassagen. Kristiania: Aschehoug. urn.nb.no

 

Last Updated on 16 December 2020