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 poser 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.
Nearly all Swedish Chef sketches begin with him in a kitchen, waving some utensils while singing his signature song  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 was Tom. However, since Kaye was not a blood relative in reality, this information may be considered apocryphal.
- Jim Henson - from The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence (1975) to The Muppets at Walt Disney World (1990)
- Bill Barretta - from Muppet Treasure Island (1996) to present
- David Rudman - The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
- Dave Goelz - Muppets from Space (1999)
- Steve Whitmire - I Love Lucy Movie Mania Screen Test (1999)
- Victor Yerrid - From the Balcony: Episode 26 (2006)
- 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.
- As a one-note joke, it is revealed by Jean Stapleton (who speaks mock Swedish) in episode 306 of The Muppet Show, that the Swedish Chef's native language is mock Japanese. Others who have conversed in mock Swedish include Steve Martin, Danny Kaye, Fleet Scribbler, Carlton Cuse (in a "Lost Slapdown") and Statler (in episode 412).
- There was a Swedish Chef sketch that was taped but not broadcast, in which the Chef prepared ratatouille.
- In A Muppet Family Christmas he manages to say "Merry Christmas" in Swedish, "God Jul".
- In The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence, the name of his program is "Järnvägskorsning" (Railway Crossings).
- 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.
- A wedding ring has appeared on the Swedish Chef's left hand as early as 2006.
The Muppet Show Season 1
|Meatballs||Episode 102: Connie Stevens|| 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.|
Note: This sketch can also be seen on The Muppet Revue.
|Flapjacks||Episode 105: Rita Moreno||The Chef prepares pancakes, which wind up stuck on the ceiling. He then grabs a gun and shoots them down.|
|Spaghetti||Episode 111: Lena Horne|| The spaghetti comes to life and attacks The Swedish Chef.|
Note: This sketch can also be seen on Muppet Treasures and in The Muppet Show Book.
|Doughnuts||Episode 114: Sandy Duncan||The Swedish Chef uses a "boomashootn" (rifle) to shoot a hole through an English muffin to make a doughnut.|
|Spicy Sauce||Episode 115: Candice Bergen|| 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.
|Japanese Cake||Episode 120: Valerie Harper||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).|
The Muppet Show Season 2
|Fishie Chowder||Episode 201: Don Knotts||The Swedish Chef attempts to make fish chowder using a live fish.|
|Salad, Brussells Sprouts, and Coconut||Episode 205: Judy Collins||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.|
|Lobsters||Episode 209: Madeline Kahn|| The Swedish Chef tries to boil a lobster, but is attacked by a group of lobster banditos, who rescue their comrade from the pot.
|Bomb Egg||Episode 212: Bernadette Peters||The Swedish Chef wants eggs for his dish, but his chicken lays a bomb.|
|Ping Pong Ball Eggs||Episode 214: Elton John||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.|
|Frog Legs||Episode 215: Lou Rawls||Since Kermit rushes the Swedish Chef onstage (when he's not ready), the Chef takes Robin and tries to prepare frog legs.|
|Salad||Episode 216: Cleo Laine||The Swedish Chef makes a salad while Cleo Laine sings "You're Just in Love."|
|Cow||Episode 217: Julie Andrews||The Chef paints on a real live cow to demarcate the different cuts of beef.|
|Coconut||Episode 218: Jaye P. Morgan||The Chef hammers and saws a coconut, trying to crack it. When he finally gets it open, he discovers a bomb inside it.|
|Chocolate Moose||Episode 220: Petula Clark||Mickey Moose helps the Chef make "chocolate moose". Kermit interrupts this play on words.|
|Pressed Duck||Episode 221: Bob Hope||The Swedish Chef tries to use the iron to press Ronald Duck, who grabs it and then drops it on him and flies away.|
|Popcorn||Episode 224: Cloris Leachman||The Swedish Pig makes popcorn.|
The Muppet Show Season 3
|Living Dough||Episode 303: Roy Clark|| The Swedish Chef is attacked by living dough, which hits him with his own rolling pin.
|Patient Swedish Chef||Episode 309: Liberace||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.|
|Chicken in the Basket||Episode 311: Raquel Welch||The Swedish Chef throws a chicken through a basketball hoop.|
|Banana Split||Episode 312: James Coco||While preparing a banana split, the Swedish Chef is continuously interrupted by Spanish dancers.|
|The Chef and his Uncle||Episode 316: Danny Kaye||The Swedish Chef is joined by his uncle (played by Danny Kaye), and they make a turkey.|
The Muppet Show Season 4
|Squirrel Stew||Episode 401: John Denver||The Chef is out in the woods, trying to make squirrel stew.|
|Hot Dogs||Episode 404: Dyan Cannon|| 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.|
Note: This sketch can also be seen on It's the Muppets: More Muppets, Please!
|Turtle Soup||Episode 405: Victor Borge||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-Cooked Meal||Episode 408: Arlo Guthrie||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||Episode 412: Phyllis George||The Chef sings "Yes, We Have No Bananas" with the Singing Food.|
|Meat Loafers||Episode 423: Carol Channing||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
|Swedish Lump Bread Puppetry||Episode 508: Señor Wences||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.|
|Spring Chickens||Episode 512: Melissa Manchester|| The Chef makes spring chickens, which spring out of control.|
Note: This is the only Swedish Chef sketch where The Announcer introduces the act.
|Soup||Episode 514: Mac Davis||The Swedish Chef prepares soup, but gets interrupted by multiple Beakers.|
|Soufflé||Episode 522: Buddy Rich||The Swedish Chef prepares a lighter than air soufflé.|
|Champagne||Episode 523: Linda Ronstadt||The Chef goes flying when he pops a bottle of champagne.|
Additional Sketches (Non-Muppet Show)
|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.|
|Cake|| The Jim Henson Hour|
Episode 107: Health and Fitness
|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.|
|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."
|Europe MTV Music Awards||Chef and Wyclef Jean perform on stage at the Europe MTV Music Awards on November 16, 2000 in Stockholm, Sweden.|
|Daisy Dukes|| From the Balcony|
|The Swedish Chef makes Daisy Dukes.|
|Nachos Libre|| From The Balcony|
|The Swedish Chef makes "Nachos Libre" with nachos, black pepper, a mask, a bell, eggs, and flour. It punches him afterwards.|
|Swedie Pizza||A Muppet Christmas: Letters to Santa||The Swedish Chef prepares a "Swedie Pizza" for two guys in an Italian restraurant. They realize the Chef is not Italian and yell at him to go away, and he runs off ("Oooky!Oooky!Oooky!"). One of the guys remarks that it doesn't look that bad and that maybe they should try it.|
|Cårven Der Pümpkîn||Muppet viral videos||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.|
|Pöpcørn||Muppet viral videos||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.|
|Turkey||The Muppets||The Swedish Chef attempts to prepare a turkey.|
- Meet the Muppets: Because evryone 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.
- The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence
- The Muppet Show
- Episode 102: Connie Stevens — sketch
- Episode 105: Rita Moreno — sketch
- Episode 111: Lena Horne — sketch
- Episode 114: Sandy Duncan — sketch
- Episode 115: Candice Bergen — sketch
- Episode 120: Valerie Harper — sketch
- Episode 201: Don Knotts — sketch
- Episode 205: Judy Collins — sketch
- Episode 206: Nancy Walker — appears in the diner sketch with Luncheon Counter Monster, Fozzie and Nancy Walker
- Episode 208: Steve Martin — background
- Episode 209: Madeline Kahn — sketch
- Episode 210: George Burns — dishes dirt to Fleet Scribbler who understands his mock Swedish
- Episode 212: Bernadette Peters — sketch
- Episode 214: Elton John — sketch
- Episode 215: Lou Rawls — sketch
- Episode 216: Cleo Laine — sketch
- Episode 217: Julie Andrews — sketch
- Episode 218: Jaye P. Morgan — sketch
- Episode 220: Petula Clark — sketch
- Episode 221: Bob Hope — sketch
- Episode 224: Cloris Leachman — sketch
- Episode 301: Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge — works in the canteen with Gladys
- Episode 303: Roy Clark — sketch
- Episode 306: Jean Stapleton — Sam the Eagle calls him out on his dialect; Jean Stapleton talks to him and discovers his nativie tongue is actually mock Japanese
- Episode 308: Loretta Lynn — background
- Episode 309: Liberace — sketch
- Episode 310: Marisa Berenson — makes a wedding cake for Kermit and Piggy
- Episode 311: Raquel Welch — sketch
- Episode 312: James Coco — sketch
- Episode 313: Helen Reddy — sings Happy Birthday to You with Animal to Helen Reddy
- Episode 314: Harry Belafonte — swaps places with Kermit in the Pigs in Space sketch
- Episode 316: Danny Kaye — sketch
- Episode 317: Spike Milligan — folks of all languages understand Chef's mock Swedish jokes
- Episode 321: Roger Miller — background
- Episode 323: Lynn Redgrave — background
- Episode 401: John Denver — sketch
- Episode 404: Dyan Cannon — sketch
- Episode 406: Linda Lavin — makes a replica of Kermit's head made of chopped liver
- Episode 408: Arlo Guthrie — sketch
- Episode 412: Phyllis George — sketch
- Episode 413: Dizzy Gillespie — background
- Episode 414: Liza Minnelli — background
- Episode 416: Jonathan Winters — background
- Episode 420: Alan Arkin — background
- Episode 423: Carol Channing — sketch
- Episode 501: Gene Kelly — hits Pops over the head when he says they could use a good cook around here
- Episode 507: Glenda Jackson — chases Eric the Parrot in "Carolina in the Morning"
- Episode 508: Señor Wences — sketch
- Episode 512: Melissa Manchester — sketch
- Episode 514: Mac Davis — sketch
- Episode 517: Hal Linden — background
- Episode 518: Marty Feldman — plays the Caliph
- Episode 520: Wally Boag — sings "Danny Boy" as one of the Leprechaun Brothers
- Episode 522: Buddy Rich — sketch
- Episode 523: Linda Ronstadt — sketch
- Episode 524: Roger Moore — background
- John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together
- The Muppets Go Hollywood
- The Muppet Movie
- The Muppets Go to the Movies
- The Great Muppet Caper
- The Muppets Take Manhattan
- The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years
- A Muppet Family Christmas
- Cröonchy Stars commercials
- The Jim Henson Hour
- The Muppets at Walt Disney World
- The Muppet Christmas Carol
- "Kokomo" music video
- Muppet Treasure Island
- Muppets Tonight
- Muppets from Space
- Movie Mania
- Donna's Day
- "Keep Fishin'" music video
- It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie
- From the Balcony
- Episode 4
- Episode 26
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz
- A Green and Red Christmas
- Disney Xtreme Digital
- Studio DC: Almost Live!
- A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa
- D23 Expo (2009)
- Give a Day. Get a Disney Day. commercials
- Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
- America's Funniest Home Videos
- Muppet viral videos
- Lost Slapdown
- The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora
- Breakfast Isn't Just For Breakfast Anymore
- The Muppet Show Theme Music Video
- The Muppets
- Dancing with the Stars
- Good Morning America
- Kermit's Party - Episode 1
- The Case of the Stolen Show
- Just for Laughs
Video game appearances
- Muppet RaceMania
- Jim Henson's Muppets
- Muppets Party Cruise
- The Muppets: On with the Show!
- Muppet Monster Adventure
- The Muppet Show Book
- The Comic Muppet Book
- Two for the Show
- Jim Henson's Muppet Show Bill
- Muppets at Sea
- Robin Hood (1980)
- Muppet Picnic Cookbook (1981)
- Muppet Time (1996)
- The Muppet Show Comic Book (2009)
- Muppet Robin Hood
- The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson
- Muppet Snow White
- ↑ Jim Henson's Red Book, 11/1961 - "Jerry and I did show in Hamburg, Germany – Dept. of Agriculture."
- ↑ 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.
- ↑ Karen Prell, Muppet Central forum post, 4-25-2003