Possibly the most sought-after invitation in the world, the banquet celebrating the presentation of the Nobel Prizes and surrounding festivities is reported on around the globe. Every year’s menu is eagerly awaited by banquet aficionados. (Curious about the manbehind the prize? Read Nobel by name, noble by nature

The very first banquet in 1901 had 150 invited guests. Dinner was enjoyed at the newly renovated Grand Hotel, and Crown Prince Gustav (the future King Gustav V) presented the prizes, as King Oscar II was occupied in Norway. With just 150 guests, there were not nearly enough people to fill the galleries of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, where the ceremony was to be held. But this problem was easily overcome: the gentlemen’s servants were simply invited along to boost the numbers.
For many people, the Nobel Banquet menu is as important as the presentation of the prizes. The menus read like a culinary history of the 20th century, from the consommés of the first three decades to mimosa salad in the 1950s and calorie-packed fillet of beef Charlemagne in the 1970s.
The first Nobel banquet offered a magnificent supper, with poached brill, fillet of beef imperial and roasted hazel grouse breast. The next few years were equally extravagant. In 1913, a seven-course dinner was served that included artichokes, classic turtle soup and the now-famous Walewska (but made with turbot instead of sole—look for the recipe under 'Food' online later this week).
The banquets’ early excesses ended with the Second World War. The change was dramatic. The number of dinner courses was reduced to three, and luxury items such as truffles, lobsters and artichokes were conspicuous by their absence.


Settings and tableware
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony has taken place in Stockholm, Sweden on December 10 (the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death).
The banquet celebrating the presentation of the Nobel Prizes brings the brightest and most innovative minds in the world to Stockholm. The special settings and tableware that meet them in the Blue Hall at City Hall was created for the ninetieth anniversary of the Nobel Prize in 1991.

Each of the 65 tables are blanketed with over 1,600 feet of fine Swedish table linen—from tablecloths to napkins (..makes you wonder what happens to Nobel's 'Dirty Laundry') - all were designed for the occasion by Ingrid Dessau of Klässbols Linneväveri. On the fine Swedish table linen are many thousands of porcelain dishes, glasses and silverware pieces. The porcelain is from Rörstrand designed by Karin Björquist, whose several times awarded designs have multiple meanings, representing the four seasons, four contents and four of the Nobel prizes—The plates’ four colors are white, which symbolizes summer, Africa and the prize for chemistry, green for spring, America and physics; blue for winter, Europe and literature and Yellow for fall, Asia and medicine. The glasses by Orrefors Glassworks and the silverware by Gense were all designed by the same designer Gunnar Cyrén. For more info, see

Even more important than the setting of course, the menu, a secret until Dec. 10 every year. Recipes for a selection of Nobel menus throughout the years were presented in “The Nobel Banquets,” published by Mixoft Publishing. In cooperation with Mixoft and its American distributor we are able to share with you a good portion of the menu of the first Nobel banquet of 1901, including the classic “Filet de boeuf à l’Impériale” (we offer an updated version here).
Given today’s health-conscious eating styles, a selection of the banquet’s appetizers alone—in many ways typical of contemporary Scandinavian cuisine—will satisfy many dinner guests.
Start cooking and invite your friends to enjoy the very first Nobel banquet in your own home. For the recipes: Prepare your own Nobel banquet at home; The 1901 Menu

Bon Appetit!