“Oh yeah, one more thing Paul,” my boss at Region Stavanger said at around 11 in the night. “You have to Google him, he is a big celebrity in Sweden.”
Since I started working at Region Stavanger, the official destination company in charge of promoting the Stavanger region, I have been assigned a couple of times to meet journalists, take them around the city to different places of interest, to different museums and sometimes to have lunch with them. I thought this was going to be one of those days. The only difference was that I was going to take two of them to the famous Preikestolen, or as it is known in English, the Pulpit Rock.
After I Googled him, I was shocked. It was already late at night and I had to wake up at 5 in the morning the next day for making all the preparations for the trip. Two friends from America, Maren and Andrew, were visiting me those days and were also coming with us the next day. They were amazed and excited, whereas myself, I got nervous.
“Oh my God,” was my reply to her.
“Don’t worry, you’ll do fine,” she said in return.
His name: Paolo Roberto, a famous Swedish celebrity known for his earlier career in boxing, which gave him worldwide fame during the 1990’s. Besides boxing, he was also the Nordic champion in kickboxing and taekwondo. Stokholmsnätt, a movie released in 1987, portraits his earlier life as a teenager, and is regarded as one of the most important cult films in Sweden. Some time after his boxing career, he published some cooking books. A very fast change of direction wasn’t it? Well, the cooking books became a success, especially because of being written by the most badass Swedish people knew, and well of course, because of his talent in writing and cooking.
He is also known for being one of the characters in Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl Who Played With Fire”, the second book of Larsson’s famous “Millenium series” of crime novel, worldwide bestsellers. Paolo Roberto also portrayed himself in the movie based on the book. He has also written several books about training, besides of having his own TV program, called “Primo Paolo”, being part of the Swedish version of “Dancing with the Stars”, being the program leader of “Expedition Robinson”, and by starring in the movie “9 millimeter”.
We went up to Preikestolen with my two American friends, and with Daniel, Paolo’s photographer, a really cool guy who really enjoys his job.
It was really inspiring to listen to Paolo Roberto’s anecdotes about his life, about how boxing was a necessity during his earlier years, about how he began writing the cooking books, which were actually only a personal thing he wanted to do for his children so that they could learn about his roots (he is from Italian descent). After his wife read the books, she suggested him to publish them. “How could I publish them,” he said to her. “A former boxer can’t suddenly become a cooking book writer, what will people think?” After he took them to the publisher, he was told by them: “Paolo, you will not tell anyone about this, ok? We want to be the first to publish this.” The books became a success.
It is also very inspiring to hear about how he and Daniel travel around the world, getting inspired by international cuisine, by different cultures, by different landscapes.
“I hate Norwegians,” Daniel jokes when comparing Norway to Sweden. “They have the nicer landscape, the nicer language, and all the oil.”
During their visit to Stavanger, they got the chance to dinner in two of Stavanger’s nicest restaurants, Hall Toll and Tango. Not bad to get the chance to travel around the world and taste different dishes, right?
On our way back to their hotel, we had a last stop at a fisherman’s boat, just to take a couple more shots, and to get the recipe of how to prepare some typical Norwegian seafood.
I leave you with some of the “behind the scenes” of our trip to Preikestolen:
Don’t forget to visit Region Stavanger’s official website: