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The Swedish Chef

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Performer:
Jim Henson • (1975 - 1990)
Bill Barretta • (1996 - Present)
Swedish-chef

The Swedish Chef.

Design Team:
Michael K. Frith • (designer)
Jim Henson and Bonnie Erickson • (builders)
Swedish poser
Chef and kermit

The Swedish Chef is the incomprehensible preparer of foodstuffs from The Muppet Show. A rather literal variation of the Live-Hand Muppet concept, the Swedish Chef is a humanoid character, with human hands rather than gloves. On The Muppet Show, Frank Oz performed the character's hands. The chef first appeared in The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence in 1975, with Chinese subtitles for his dialog, and Richard Hunt performing the hands. Only in photo puppets used specifically for photo shoots does the Swedish Chef have standard Muppet hands.

According to Brian Henson in one of his introductions for The Muppet Show, "Jim Henson had this tape that he used to play which was 'How to Speak Mock Swedish'. And he used to drive to work and I used to ride with him a lot. And he would drive to work trying to make a chicken sandwich in Mock Swedish or make a turkey casserole in Mock Swedish. It was the most ridiculous thing you had ever seen. And people at traffic lights used to stop and sort of look at him a little crazy. But that was the roots of the character that would eventually become the Swedish Chef". Jim Henson had previously explored the idea of a funny foreign chef at the US Food Fair that took place in Hamburg, Germany in 1961, where Sam and Friends character Omar prepared a flaming salad while speaking in some quite comprehensible mock German that Henson and Jerry Juhl had previously scribbled down in phonetics.[1]

Nearly all Swedish Chef sketches begin with him in a kitchen, waving some utensils while singing his signature song [2] in a trademark mock Swedish, a semi-comprehensible gibberish which parodies the characteristic vowel sounds of Swedish. The last line of the song is always "Børk! Børk! Børk!" and is punctuated by the Chef throwing the utensils over his shoulder to crash into the crockery behind him. (Although the letter "ø" does not exist in Swedish—it is a Danish/Norwegian letter whose Swedish equivalent is "ö"—the Chef's trademark word is nearly always spelled "Børk.")

After this introduction, the Chef continues to speak gibberish while preparing a particular recipe. His commentary is spiced with the occasional English word to clue the viewer in to what he is attempting. These clues are necessary as he frequently uses unorthodox culinary equipment (firearms, tennis rackets, etc.) to prepare his dishes. The sketch typically degenerates into a slapstick finale, and he often winds up in pitched battle with his ingredients, from Lobster Banditos to a Japanese Cake. The Swedish Chef has also appeared, at least briefly, in every Muppet film to date. He was put in charge of running the film projector in The Muppet Movie and Muppet*Vision 3D. In A Muppet Family Christmas, he attempts to cook the Christmas turkey, then sets his sights on Big Bird instead.

The Swedish Chef's popularity led to his own cereal, Cröonchy Stars, in 1988. Commercials for the product featured the Chef, up to his usual antics. In the 1990s, the Swedish Chef appeared regularly on Donna's Day starting in the second season.

In episode 316, Danny Kaye, portraying the chef's uncle in a sketch, claims that the Swedish Chef's first name is Tom. However, since Kaye was not a blood relative in reality, this information may be considered apocryphal.

Casting History

Primary Performers

Other Performers

Trivia

  • The Chef's gibberish gained a life of its own with the creation of a Unix filter capable of converting standard English to Chefspeak in 1992. The filter quickly became a staple of hacker culture and eventually spread to the mainstream with Swedish Chef translators on several Web sites such as Google. In 2003, Opera Software published a special Bork version of its internet browser that turned the MSN Web site into mock Swedish. Mozilla Firefox also contains a popular add-on called Bork Bork Bork! that allows the selective translation of text from Web pages of the user's choice. It is also a display language there.
  • There was a Swedish Chef sketch that was taped but not broadcast, in which the Chef prepared ratatouille.[3]
  • While The Swedish Chef normally has live human hands, he also occasionally has Muppet hands. Examples include:
    • The Muppet Show episode 218: following The Swedish Chef's sketch.
    • Muppets Tonight episode 101: During the meeting at the beginning of the show.


Sketches

The Muppet Show Season 1

Picture Title / Episode Description
SCmeatballs
Meatballs
Episode 102
The Swedish Chef prepares meatballs, which bounce when dropped. He then grabs a tennis racket and swats the meatball into the audience. Statler volleys it back with a racket of his own. "Fifteen, love!" says Waldorf.


Video: The Muppet Revue

105-7
Flapjacks
Episode 105
The Chef prepares pancakes, which wind up stuck on the ceiling. He then grabs a blunderbuss and shoots them down.
111chef
Spaghetti
Episode 111
The spaghetti comes to life and attacks The Swedish Chef.


Video: Muppet Treasures, Book: The Muppet Show Book.

Scdonuts
Doughnuts
Episode 114
The Swedish Chef uses a "boomashootn" (rifle) to shoot a hole through an English muffin to make a doughnut.


Video: Muppet Treasures, Book: The Muppet Show Book

115 chef
Spicy Sauce
Episode 115
The Swedish Chef's sauce is so spicy that his hat flies off, giving the audience a rare but brief glimpse of what the chef looks like without his hat.


Video: Muppet Moments

120-5
Japanese Cake
Episode 120
The Chef adds cream and fruit to a chocolate cake, but as he goes to cut it, the cake loudly objects...in Japanese! The cake is instead dispatched by a "cakenschmooscher" (baseball bat).


Video: Muppet Moments

The Muppet Show Season 2

Picture Title / Episode Description
SCfishiechowder
Fishie Chowder
Episode 201
The Swedish Chef attempts to make fish chowder using a live fish.
Swedishchef205
Salad, Brussells Sprouts, and Coconut
Episode 205
In a two-part sketch, The Swedish Chef shoots lettuce with a gun, first creating a salad and then Brussells sprouts. Later, he tries to shoot a coconut, but instead shoots a rubber chicken and gets hit by a coconut.
209-4
Lobsters
Episode 209
The Swedish Chef tries to boil a lobster, but is attacked by a group of lobster banditos, who rescue their comrade from the pot.


Video: The Muppet Revue, Special:The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years, Book: The Muppet Show Book (referred to as "Lobster Thermidor.")

SCbombegg
Bomb Egg
Episode 212
The Swedish Chef wants eggs for his dish, but his chicken lays a bomb.


Video: Muppet Moments

Pingpongballeggs
Ping Pong Ball Eggs
Episode 214
The Swedish Chef prepares "egg der chef," but his chicken only lays ping pong balls. The Chef becomes angry and pursues the hen with a cleaver; this becomes a literal running gag throughout the rest of the show.
215 frogs legs
Frog Legs
Episode 215
Since Kermit rushes the Swedish Chef onstage (when he's not ready), the Chef takes Robin and tries to prepare frog legs.
SwedishChefwithCleoLaine
Salad
Episode 216
The Swedish Chef makes a salad while Cleo Laine sings "You're Just in Love."
Chef217
Cow
Episode 217
The Chef paints on a real live cow to demarcate the different cuts of beef.
Swedishchef218
Coconut
Episode 218
The Chef hammers and saws a coconut, trying to crack it. When he finally gets it open, he discovers a bomb inside it.
SCchocolatemoose
Chocolate Moose
Episode 220
Mickey Moose helps the Chef make "chocolate moose". Kermit interrupts this play on words.


Video: It's The Muppets: Meet the Muppets

SwedishChefwithDuck
Pressed Duck
Episode 221
The Swedish Chef tries to use the iron to press Ronald Duck, who grabs it and then drops it on him and flies away.
Pigchef
Popcorn
Episode 224
The Swedish Pig makes popcorn.

The Muppet Show Season 3

Picture Title / Episode Description
Swedishchef303
Living Dough
Episode 303
The Swedish Chef is attacked by living dough, which hits him with his own rolling pin.
Note: This is the last Swedish Chef sketch to take place in the original kitchen set.
Vets.swedishchef
Patient Swedish Chef
Episode 309
What starts as a Swedish Chef sketch finishes with Veterinarian's Hospital, as the hospital staff discover the chef has a rare case of in-grown coffee pot.
311-15
Chicken in the Basket
Episode 311
The Swedish Chef throws a chicken through a basketball hoop.


Video: The Muppet Revue, It's the Muppets!: More Muppets, Please!

312-12
Banana Split
Episode 312
While preparing a banana split, the Swedish Chef is continuously interrupted by Spanish dancers.
Turkey
The Chef and his Uncle
Episode 316
The Swedish Chef is joined by his uncle (played by Danny Kaye), and they make a turkey.

The Muppet Show Season 4

Picture Title / Episode Description
401-10
Squirrel Stew
Episode 401
The Chef is out in the woods, trying to make squirrel stew.
SwedishChefHotDogs
Hot Dogs
Episode 404
The Chef prepares hot dogs. Miss Piggy, who is looking for Foo Foo, comes on-stage, asking the chef if he has seen her dog. The Swedish Chef, assuming the query is about the wieners, says that the dog is in the pot, causing Piggy to think that the chef is cooking Foo Foo.


Video: It's the Muppets: More Muppets, Please!

Swedishchef405
Turtle Soup
Episode 405
Chef attempts to make turtle soup, but the turtle keeps pulling up into his shell when the Chef is about to hack off his head. Frustrated, the Chef threatens the animal with a blunderbuss, only to be met with a double-barreled miniature canon from within the turtle's shell.
Home-Meal-4
Home-Cooked Meal
Episode 408
The Chef plans a home-cooked meal, but the turkey refuses to be skewered, the pig busts him in the face, and the "beef" stampedes over him. Even the vegetable stew is unsuccessful. Eventually, the Chef unveils his dinner -- vitamin pills.
No-Bananas
No Bananas
Episode 412
The Chef sings "Yes, We Have No Bananas" with the Singing Food.
Swedish-chef-meat-in-shoe
Meat Loafers
Episode 423
The chef puts meat into a shoe. The owner of the shoe, a pig, demands to have his shoe back, and puts it on, despite the fact that there is meat in it. He then gets chased by dogs.

The Muppet Show Season 5

Picture Title / Episode Description
Swedish-Lump-Bread-Puppetry
Swedish Lump Bread Puppetry
Episode 508
The Swedish Chef makes a puppet using his hands and some bread dough as he sings "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" in his native tongue.
Swedish-Chef Spring-Chickens
Spring Chickens
Episode 512
The Chef makes spring chickens, which spring out of control.
Note: This is the only Swedish Chef sketch where The Announcer introduces the act.
Swedish-chef-soup
Soup
Episode 514
The Swedish Chef prepares soup, but gets interrupted by multiple Beakers.
Chef522
Soufflé
Episode 522
The Swedish Chef prepares a lighter than air soufflé.
523-10
Champagne
Episode 523
The Chef goes flying when he pops a bottle of champagne.

Additional Sketches (Non-Muppet Show)

Picture Title / Show Description
Cap587
Sandwich
The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence
In a three-part sketch, the Swedish Chef makes a sandwich, using many unusual ingredients. Eventually, the sandwich sprouts wings and flies away, but the chef shoots it down with a gun.
Noimage
Salad
The Tonight Show (1976)
The Swedish Chef makes a salad using almost every bit of food (or otherwise) he has on his table. It explodes when he tries to flambé it.
SwedishChef-hensonhour
Cake
The Jim Henson Hour
(Episode 107)
The Swedish Chef attempts to make a cake, but is interrupted by Jaques Roach, who explains that roaches are indestructible because of their eating habits.
Svenska tacos
Tacos
The Muppets at Walt Disney World
The Chef prepares a taco for Bunsen and Beaker, which is so hot that it blows the pail that has been stuck on Beaker's head clear off... and back on again.
Note: The closing for his opening song is "Olé" instead of the usual "Bork, bork, bork."
Chefwyclef01
Europe MTV Music Awards Chef and Wyclef Jean perform on stage at the Europe MTV Music Awards on November 16, 2000 in Stockholm, Sweden.
FTB episode4
Daisy Dukes
From the Balcony (Episode 4)
The Swedish Chef makes Daisy Dukes.
Ep26
Nachos Libre
From the Balcony (Episode 26)
The Swedish Chef makes "Nachos Libre" with nachos, black pepper, a mask, a bell, eggs, and flour. It punches him afterwards.
PumpkinCarving01
Cårven Der Pümpkîn
Muppet viral video
The Swedish Chef attempts to make jack-o-lanterns out of two talking pumpkins for Halloween. The pumpkins then suggest that he use miscellaneous items that would not normally be used (i.e. a battle axe, a chainsaw, and a bazooka). After he gets out the bazooka, the pumpkins get blasted into two pumpkin pies, which the Chef titles "der pümpkîn pie a la bazookie", right before passing out from the explosion. This is then followed by a little heckling from Statler and Waldorf who have been watching the clip on their computer.


Online: (YouTube)

ChefPopcorn
Pöpcørn
Muppet viral video
The Swedish Chef prepares popcorn shrimp to the tune of Hot Butter's "Popcorn." The video also provides captions, although the caption writer admits that they have no idea what the chef is saying; they just try to write it phonetically, which even the writer can't spell.


Online: (YouTube)

Muppets2011Trailer02-39
Turkey
The Muppets
The Swedish Chef attempts to prepare a turkey.


Note: This scene was deleted from the film, but a very brief clip of it appears in a TV spot and a trailer.

JustforLaughs07
"The Poutine"
Just for Laughs
The Chef gets a heart attack after eating his own poutine.
Swedish Chef wedding ring Gaga xmas

Close-up of Chef's wedding ring.

Swed chef juggling

The Muppet Show Comic Book

  • Meet the Muppets: Because everyone is trying to cheer Kermit up, Robin tries to get the Chef to make Lily Pad Goulash. The Chef fails to understand him and thinks he wants Frogs' Legs Goulash, then takes Robin to make the dish. Onstage, Robin talks the Chef into stopping, and leaves.
  • The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson: Because the Chef is making onion soup at the same time that a toast-hurdling contest is happening, toast flies out of the pot as soon as the recipe is complete.

Filmography

See The Swedish Chef Filmography

Video game appearances

Book appearances

Sources

  1. Jim Henson's Red Book, 11/1961 - "Jerry and I did show in Hamburg, Germany – Dept. of Agriculture."
  2. The Swedish Chef's theme music is called "Swedish Chef", written by Muppet Show musical arranger Derek Scott. The song was published by ATV Music under ASCAP code 490403793.
  3. Karen Prell, Muppet Central forum post, 4-25-2003
  4. Bill Barretta, [1]

See also



Start a Discussion Discussions about The Swedish Chef

  • Chef Filmography

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    • Yeah, I'd support that, too.
    • Just finished reformatting the Swedish Chef page and creating the filmography page. I didn't, however, remove any of the sketches since I f...

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