Nilas Corneliussen – Executive Head Chef at Villa Frantzén

Nilas Corneliussen – Executive Head Chef at Villa Frantzén

Nilas Corneliussen

Nilas Corneliussen fell in love with Thailand a long time ago. Having started Thai boxing in high school and grown fascinated by it across Thailand, Chef Corneliussen seemed destined for a different career path: cooking. He went back to Europe to hone his cooking skills, embarking on an amazing culinary adventure that included working with some of the best chefs in the region, such as the Michelin-starred Sayan Isaksson and being a member of the Swedish Bocuse d’Or team. Now back in Thailand, he is in charge of the kitchen at Villa Frantzén in Bangkok, where he introduces diners to the appetising Nordic cuisine with a touch of Asian flair.

– by Rizky Adityo –

E: Today you’re the head executive chef for one of Asia’s finest restaurants, but what first enticed you into the kitchen?

A: A popular greeting upon meeting someone in Thailand is “kin khao jung?”, which translates to “have you eaten?” Having said that, living in Thailand exposes you to a way of life and culture that revolve around food. As I lived in Thailand before I ever considered becoming a chef, food took on a significant role in my life and gave it direction when I was younger.

E: You left Sweden to pursue your economics studies in Thailand. Why Thailand, and why economics?

A: Economics was a simple choice, and studying here would help me stay longer in Thailand right after high school. And why Thailand? Well, it’s a long-term relationship. The story began when I was a little kid and made several trips here with my family. As I grew older, I continued travelling alone to Thailand whenever I had the chance, whether it was to practice Thai boxing or just to find peace.

E: Can you explain what Villa Frantzén is all about to those who are not yet familiar with the restaurant?

A: We say “vi ses” a lot, which is Swedish for “see you.” In a sense, this is our goal. Warm and inviting, this villa invites you to return time and time again to its Nordic haven. Under the direction of the renowned Chef Björn Frantzén, we are a member of the Frantzén Group, and he claims that Villa Frantzén is the most Nordic of his restaurants. Through food, drinks, design and hospitality, we celebrate Nordic culture while fusing it with Asian influences to introduce guests to the tastes and vibe of Scandinavia.

E: What is the best way to describe Nordic cuisine?

A: Nordic cuisine is based on purity; it is a very ingredient-driven cuisine that uses a lot of fermentation, curing and other forms of preservation due to the rigid climate. Because there is a lot of dairy in this rich cuisine, we use acidity – like vinegar – to balance the richness. We also developed a salty palate because we use salt to preserve a lot of goods. 

E: Your résumé is amazing, with jobs at Michelin-starred restaurants, including Noma. What was the most important lesson you took away from working with some of the most well-known chefs?

A: My biggest takeaway from working in high-end kitchens is the importance of organisation. Those places taught you that you have to stay neat, work clean, be efficient and be disciplined. There is a certain kind of energy in these kitchens. There is always so much pressure to be in these upscale kitchens that you almost feel the intensity, passion and drive that these spaces are known for. As soon as you walk through the door, you get this high, surrounded by people who are all focused on the service that is going to take place and who share your goals. That feeling is very addictive, and it keeps you driven even when you have to make sacrifices.

E: What is the most important philosophy that you apply to your career or in the kitchen?

A: A chef is someone who, no matter how good they get, is always learning something new. So, never stop the curiosity as a cook or as a leader. Continue to learn new things every day and keep an open mind. It deals not just with food or cooking methods, but also with creating a pleasant work environment, interacting with people and their emotions, and refining your management abilities or strategies for dealing with stress and challenges.

E: What part of your job do you love?

A: No day is the same, and that is what I love about this job. I like viewing the kitchen from a bird’s-eye perspective: working with the team, solving the puzzle of everyday work, assigning tasks, addressing problems and synchronising the work of multiple sections or departments. I take pleasure in overseeing every step of those procedures, which eventually results in the guests arriving and enjoying a wonderful dinner experience. I love how everything comes together at the end because there are so many processes going on behind the scenes.

E: Our readers are passionate foodies. Beyond Villa Frantzén, where would you recommend they dine while travelling in Bangkok?

A: When someone is visiting Bangkok, Samrub Samrub Thai is the one restaurant I always suggest. I’m a big fan of Chef Prin’s cooking and his philosophy around food. At Samrub Samrub Thai, they discovered the ideal balance between a refined dining experience overall and rustic, perfectly executed food in a cosy, welcoming setting.  



Dry ingredients

  • 15g rye flour
  • 90g coarse wheat flour
  • 5g salt
  • 7g baking soda
  • 10g baking powder

Additional ingredients

  • 170g filmjölk (or yoghurt)
  • 85g beer 
  • 240ml dark syrup (recipe to follow) 
  • 20g wheat flour
  • Dark syrup
  • 155g brown sugar
  • 25g glucose powder  
  • 100ml water


Mix all the dry ingredients first.

For the dark syrup, bring all ingredients in a pot to a boil. Take off the heat and leave to cool down. 

Add the dark syrup and the rest of the ingredients. Mix until well-combined.

Take a round mould 12cm wide, and grease the inside with some fat.

Put 130g of the mixture into the mould and bake at 220C for 12 minutes. Check if the bread is done with a kitchen thermometer. The inner temperature should be at 95C. Let it rest before you cut it.

At Villa Frantzén, the dish is served with salted Bordier butter and rapeseed oil to showcase the perfect contrast between sweet and savoury.

Exquisite Taste Volume 43

Villa Frantzén

7 Yen Akat Soi 3, Chongnonsi

Bangkok 10120, Thailand

T: (+66) 873448222



IG: @villafrantzen