St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf chef gives TV viewers a taste of Christmas Festival

Rafael Perez, the director of culinary operations for Bon Appetit at St. Olaf, highlights just a few of the dishes prepared for Christmas Festival during an appearance on KMSP-TV.

Each year during St. Olaf College’s renowned Christmas Festival, thousands of students and visitors enjoy the Nordic-inspired cuisine served on campus — from rommegrot to krumkake to, yes, lutefisk.

Rafael Perez, the director of culinary operations for Bon Appetit at St. Olaf, visited the studios of KMSP-TV to highlight just a few of the dishes prepared for Christmas Festival.

First held in 1912, the St. Olaf Christmas Festival is one of the oldest musical celebrations of Christmas in the United States. Led by five conductors, it features more than 500 student musicians who are members of the college’s world-renowned choirs and orchestra. For the first time ever this year, anyone can live stream the Sunday, December 2, Christmas Festival concert for free online.

While visiting the KMSP-TV studios, Perez showed viewers how to prepare a Nordic potato salad using baby potatoes, red onion, apple, pickled baby cucumber, egg, fresh dill, and lemon crème fraiche dressing. The recipe is below.

Norwegian Potato Salad Recipe

Courtesy of Bon Appetit Management Co. at St. Olaf College

4 lbs baby yukon gold potatoes

2 cups crème fraiche (substitute sour cream if needed)

2 tbsp whole grain mustard

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

2 tbsp fresh grated lemon zest

2 tsp grated horseradish

1 cup finely sliced apples

1/4 cup cornichons, finely diced

4 hard boiled eggs, finely diced

1/4 cup finely diced red onions

1 tbsp kosher salt

1/2 tbsp tellicherry black pepper cracked (can use regular)


1. Wash potatoes thoroughly and place in a stainless steel pot. Cover with cold water. Place on medium high heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium low and cook potatoes until tender; you should be able to pierce them with a small knife easily.

2. Strain potatoes and let them cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. At this point, you can refrigerate the potatoes if you want to make the salad the next day.

3. Place all the rest of the ingredients except salt and black pepper in a non-reactive bowl. Mix thoroughly and taste. Start adding salt and black pepper based on your taste preference, and adjust as needed.

4. Place potatoes in a bowl and season with salt and pepper slightly, keeping in mind that you already added salt and pepper in the dressing.

5. Combine potatoes with the dressing and mix; make sure to be gentle so you don’t break the potatoes.