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Muppet Wiki
PERFORMER Jim Henson 1975-1990
  Bill Barretta 1996-present
DEBUT 1975
DESIGN Michael K. Frith designer
  Jim Henson,
Bonnie Erickson builders
Swedish poser
Chef and kermit

The Swedish Chef is the incomprehensible preparer of foodstuffs from The Muppet Show. He 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[1] 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, the Chef attempts to cook the Christmas turkey, then sets his sights on Big Bird instead; he eventually decides to serve shredded wheat and cranberry sauce (apparently a favorite of the Bird).

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. Many years later on The Muppets, Christina Applegate misinterprets his name as Megan in "Bear Left Then Bear Write", when he was actually just saying, "me, me."[2]


Chef sketch Frith 1974 MOMI

Early sketch for the Chef by Michael K. Frith.

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. In a sketch called "The Chef's Salad," Sam and Friends character Omar prepared a flaming salad while speaking in some quite incomprehensible mock German that Henson and Jerry Juhl had previously scribbled down in phonetics.[3][4] Another early Muppet chef was Chef Bernardi, who hastily whipped up a sixty-second salad flambé in a 1966 appearance on The Mike Douglas Show. Like the later Swedish Chef, Henson was the main performer of Bernardi, while Frank Oz performed his 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." The tape had been made for him by Sex and Violence writer Marshall Brickman, who was adept at mocking foreign languages.[5]


Chef hand Frank Oz mold MOMI

A cast of Frank Oz's hands on display at the Museum of the Moving Image.

The Swedish Chef is unique in that he is performed with uncovered, live hands. Unlike a typical live-hand Muppet, whose hands are felt gloves worn by the performer, the Chef's hands are merely the exposed skin of the second puppeteer who assists the main performer (who operates his head and voice).

On The Muppet Show, Frank Oz was the regular performer for the chef's hands. This created a unique dynamic between he and Jim Henson because normally, the assistant on a live-handed Muppet operates only the right hand. When Bill Barretta took over the character, Steve Whitmire was most often the Chef's hands.[6]

When the Chef poses for a photo shoot, he is usually equipped with photo puppet hands. Some exceptions include the Meet Jim Henson's Muppets View-Master set, and this stock photo. On even rarer occasions, typical live-hand Muppet gloves have been used for Chef in cases when only one performer is required. Examples include the backstage exchange immediately following his sketch in The Muppet Show episode 218 and the opening conference table scene in Muppets Tonight episode 101.

As the Chef is most commonly seen with human hands rather than the occassional felt, to more accurately represent the character as displayed in MOMI's Jim Henson Exhibition, a cast of Frank Oz's hands were made to accompany the puppet on exhibit.[7]


Swedish Chef wedding ring GagaXmas

Close-up of Chef's wedding ring.

A gold wedding ring has appeared on the Swedish Chef's left hand as early as 2007 (in an appearance on America's Got Talent).

Bill Barretta gave an explanation for the ring (which belongs to Steve Whitmire who often performed Chef's hands) saying, "The ring was a mishap at some point when Steve and I started doing it together, we couldn’t reshoot what we had done once we realized it...and so it stuck."[8]

The ring has since appeared on merchandise including a 2014 plush doll and a Diamond select action figure (although the latter miscolors the ring as silver).

In The Muppets episode "Single All the Way", Fozzie asks, "Chef, you've been married for such a long time. If your wife left you, do you think you could live without her?" The Chef deflects answering the question by offering Fozzie a "Cuppycake."

Casting History[]

SC 169

Primary Performers

Other Performers


Chef ideas notebook MOMI

Chef sketch ideas.

  • 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.
  • A proposed Swedish Chef sketch involved him making a cocktail, getting drunker as he does multiple taste tests. Another had the Chef creating a peculiar stew, which would explode when lit.[9]
  • There was a Swedish Chef sketch that was taped but not broadcast, in which the Chef prepared ratatouille.[10]
  • The Chef is one of the few regular characters from The Muppet Show whose original dialogue from the English version remains the same in most Non-English speaking countries.
  • According to the inside gatefold cover for The Muppet Revue, The Swedish Chef was actually born in Denmark and moved to Sweden when he was a baby.
  • A baby version of the Chef makes a cameo in a picture hanging in Miss Nanny's house (with pictures of baby versions of other Muppet characters) in Muppet Babies. The Swedish Chef eventually became a character on the show.
  • On occasion, the Chef's gibberish will include a genuine foreign phrase, as in episode 312 when he said "Où est le bananana?" (French), or in A Muppet Family Christmas when he said "Du bist birdie!" (German).


The Muppet Show Season 1

Picture Title / Episode Description
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.
Episode 105
The Chef prepares pancakes, which wind up stuck on the ceiling. He then grabs a blunderbuss and shoots them down.
Episode 111
The spaghetti comes to life and attacks The Swedish Chef.
Episode 114
The Swedish Chef uses a "boomashootn" (rifle) to shoot a hole through an English muffin to make a doughnut.
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.
Japanese Cake
Episode 120
The Chef adds cream and fruit to a chocolate cake, but as he goes to cut it, the cake loudly Japanese! The cake is instead dispatched by a "cakenschmooscher" (baseball bat).

The Muppet Show Season 2

Picture Title / Episode Description
Fishie Chowder
Episode 201
The Swedish Chef attempts to make fish chowder using a live fish.
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.
Lobster Thermidor
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.
Bomb Egg
Episode 212
The Swedish Chef wants eggs for his dish, but his chicken lays a bomb.
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.
Episode 216
The Swedish Chef makes a salad while Cleo Laine sings "You're Just in Love."
Episode 217
The Chef paints on a real live cow to demarcate the different cuts of beef.
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.
Chocolate Moose
Episode 220
Mickey Moose helps the Chef make "chocolate moose". Kermit interrupts this play on words.
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.
Episode 224
When the Pigs take over the Theater, the Chef is replaced by The Swedish Pig.

The Muppet Show Season 3

Picture Title / Episode Description
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.
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.
Chicken in the Basket
Episode 311
The Swedish Chef throws a chicken through a basketball hoop.
Banana Split
Episode 312
While preparing a banana split, the Swedish Chef is continuously interrupted by Spanish dancers.
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
Squirrel Stew
Episode 401
The Chef is out in the woods, trying to make squirrel stew.
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.
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 cannon from within the turtle's shell.
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
Episode 412
The Chef sings "Yes, We Have No Bananas" with the Singing Food.
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
508-dough puppet
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.
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.
514 bunsen chef
Episode 514
The Swedish Chef tries to prepare soup, but finds Dr. Bunsen Honeydew inside his pot hiding from multiple Beakers.
Episode 522
The Swedish Chef prepares a lighter than air soufflé.
Episode 523
The Chef goes flying when he pops a bottle of champagne.

Additional Sketches (Non-Muppet Show)

Picture Title / Show Description
The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence (1975)
In his debut (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.
1976-09-14 Tonight Show Chef
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.
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.
The Chef vs. Jaques Roach
The Jim Henson Hour
(Episode 112)
The Swedish Chef and Jacques Roach have a battle.
Svenska 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.
FTB episode4
Daisy Dukes
From the Balcony (Episode 4)
The Swedish Chef makes Daisy Dukes.
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.
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.
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.
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.

"The Poutine"
Just for Laughs
The Chef gets a heart attack after eating his own poutine.
"The Salsa"
The Muppets Take the Bowl
The Swedish Chef and Bobby prepare some salsa, though the Chef adds more peppers than necessary. Upon tasting, Bobby begins to smoke profusely. The Chef douses the heat with some chips.

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.


Swed chef juggling
See The Swedish Chef filmography

Video game appearances[]

Book appearances[]


  1. 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.
  2. @BobKushell on Twitter 4:09 PM - 12 Oct 2015
  3. Jones, Brian Jay. Jim Henson: The Biography. p. 90-91
  4. Jim Henson's Red Book, 11/1961 - "Jerry and I did show in Hamburg, Germany – Dept. of Agriculture."
  5. Jones, Brian Jay. Jim Henson: The Biography. p. 212
  6. Bill Barretta, The BladtCast Podcast #52: 52 Pick Up. AudioBoom, March 12, 2014
  7. Red Tricycle "Just Opened: The Jim Henson Exhibition" by Mimi O'Connor, July 26, 2017
  8. Facebook comment from Barretta Friday, January 11, 2019
  9. Archival document displayed in The Jim Henson Exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image
  10. Karen Prell, Muppet Central forum post, 4-25-2003

See also[]