The Swedish Chef is the incomprehensible preparer of foodstuffs from The Muppet Show. The Swedish Chef is a humanoid muppet, with human hands rather than gloves. The chef first appeared in The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence in 1975, with Chinese subtitles for his dialog.
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, the chef's uncle claims that the Swedish Chef's first name was Tom. However, since this was not a blood relative in reality, this information may be considered apocryphal.
- 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"), Statler (in episode 412) and Brenda Song (Studio DC Hosted by Dylan and Cole Sprouse).
- 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, "Gledelig Jul".
- In The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence, the name of his program is "Järnvägskorsning" (Railway Crossings).
- A wedding ring has appeared on the Swedish Chef's left hand as early as 2006.
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