Morten Sohlberg is a modern day renaissance man. With a list of credentials that includes founding a college for design, growing a successful restaurant group, becoming a self-taught farmer, and frequently guest lecturing on the principles of the advancement of sustainable and responsible agriculture.
Bringing his prolific design background to his current role as Restaurateur/Farmer of Blenheim, the restaurant and the farm, Morten is not only the mastermind behind the design of the restaurant, but is also a skilled carpenter who hand-builds much of the dining room furniture. This emboldened, do-it-yourself approach led Morten and his wife Min Ye to purchase Blenheim Hill Farm in the Catskill Mountains, becoming self-taught farmers in the process.
Before “farm to table” became the culinary paragon in the U.S., Morten had fully embraced its principles. In his native Norway, one eats and cooks with ingredients from nearby farms because only then can the essence of those foods be harnessed in a mindful and creative way. This philosophy, intrinsic to Nordic cuisine, has driven the menus at his New York restaurants since opening in 2003.
“At its most basic level, Scandinavian cuisine finds beauty in simplicity, and there is no better way to enjoy the pure and true flavor of something than if it was grown locally and responsibly,” he says. “That’s why we began farming and continue to focus so much on bringing in products to our restaurants that respect the land.”
With wife Min Ye, Morten owns and operates the successful Smörgås Chef Restaurant Group, which consists of two Smörgås Chef locations, three Crêpes du Nord locations, a catering business, as well as the newly opened Blenheim restaurant. Introduced in spring 2014, the newest restaurant takes the place of the former West Village Smorgas Chef, with a menu that departs from Scandinavian cuisine to feature a broader range of culinary influences and offerings. Min and Morten also own and operate Blenheim Hill Farm, a 150-acre historic farm in the Catskill Mountains that exclusively provides livestock and produce for the couple’s restaurants.
Morten’s ingenuity and experience in the culinary world has garnered him not only practical experience but also given him the opportunity to appear as a frequent speaker and lecturer in the United States and abroad on the subjects of hospitality, cuisine, business, and the advancement of sustainable and responsible agriculture. In 2012, Morten spoke at the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce “Farm to Fork” Royal Dinner Gala in New York, as well as at GoGreen New York, a conference on sustainability for business owners.
Morten also co-founded Sessions.edu with Min, the world’s largest online college of design with 10,000 students in 140 countries; he served as the CEO for five years and the chairman for seven. He has also served on Distance Education and Training Council’s Committee for Government & Public Relations in Washington, D.C., and the New School’s University Advisory Board. He currently participates on the board of the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce. He holds degrees from the Nesbru Skole in Oslo, the Istituto per L’Arte in Florence, and has pursued entrepreneurial and business studies at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University.
Morten lives with Min and their three boys and split their time between Manhattan and the Catskill Mountains at the farm.