Hotel owner and Director Farmer and Entrepreneur
Olav Lie-Nilsen is a visionary and active entrepreneur who took over the Thorbjírnrud hotel at Jevnaker outside Oslo in Norway in 2008. He has since developed the hotel to an establishment widely renowned for its food and beverage profile demonstrating a tireless go-ahead spirit for Norwegian agriculture and food production among other things through the purchase of the worn-out smallholding íÖvre Kjekshus a few kilometres from the hotel. The smallholding has been transformed into a well-run farm supplying the hotel with meat and cheese. Earlier this month the Norwegian organisation for rural tourism farm food and inland fishing HANEN selected him as This Year’s Local Food Entrepreneur 2016. This week he shared his thoughts and experiences with HSMAI members and others attending the second annual HSMAI Region Europe event in Dublin Ireland.
Q:æWhat does a day at work consist of for you?
A:æIt is varied starting at 05:30 am some coffee emails I didn’t catch the previous day. Work in the cowshed from 06:00 to 11:00. If I can I take a trip to Thorbjírnrud pop into the office check the mail bills reports and figures then a few rounds around the house to see if everything’s in order an immense amount of lightbulbs to change and chairs to put in place talk to the employees or external or internal meetings.
Then a quick visit to the cheese factory to check on things take stock of the storage and discuss production with the cheese maker. If I’m next in line to present the menu and serve as host I’m usually in the hotel at night depending on farm duties. It is an all-too rare activity as I find it something of a favourite. I travel a lot in order to promote Thorbjírnrud networking or acquiring qualifications. Also I spend a lot of time passing on food and meal culture to groups on the house and in other forums.
Q:æWhat’s the best part of your job?
A:æThat I’m free to be my own master influencing 100 percent on my own workday. There’s always a challenge at hand so I feel that I get to use my skills and qualities.
Q:æDo you have any nice traditions at your office?
A: Coffee and fibbing with Kjetil and the rest of the lot.
Q:æHow long have you been a member of HSMAI?
A: I got to know HSMAI back in 1998 when I started working atæThorbjírnrud Hotel.
Q:æWhat do you think is the best thing about HSMAI?
A: Networking and professional updating.
Q:æAre there any activities or projects you think HSMAI should start up?
A: The passing on of qualifications the hosting role and meal culture. As skilled workers within experience qualifications and sensitivity are crucial for success.
Q:æDescribe your perfect weekend.
A: Sailing in the summer or strolling through the streets of a larger city with no aim or purpose. Always nice to have the kids visiting enjoying the company of good friends and good food.
Q: If you were Norway’s Prime Minister what would be your highest priorities?
A: 100 percent protection of cultivable soil a non-renewable resource emphasis and focus on status and content in craftsmanship. We can’t all be economists or academics. Make the mutually dependent agriculture and hospitality a joint business area. Improve the focus on quality and making sureæmy cabinet ministers don’t fuzz about food having to be so cheap all the time.
Q: How would someone who knows you describe you?
A: Slightly absent-minded industrious kind and spirited.
Q: What is your next travel destination?
A: An autumn vacation in Paris with the kids.
Q: Do you have any special hobbies?
A: My life is a great hobby no how should I put it? Has to be something related to food and food culture at home and abroad.
Q:æIf you were trapped on a desert island what would you take with you if you could choose one thing?
A: A cow providing food and good company.
Q: Thank you for your time. Do you have any personal comments?
A: I’d like to gather a group of people and make Thorbjírnrud a venue for those interested in learning and sharing knowledge and competence within the fields of food and meal culture.
Photo:æOlav Lie Nilsen owner and founder of the Thorbjírnrud hotel in Jevnaker Norway. Photograph from Thorbjírnrud hotel.