This story originally appeared in Mile High Sports MagazineRead the full digital edition.

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, Gabriel Landeskog’s mom, Cecilia, has just the right recipe.

Make that recipes.

“It’s never bland when my mom cooks,” says the Avalanche captain. “She’s very flavorful, and she’s not afraid to put some extra spices in it. I love that about her.”

Cecilia, 55, does have a distinct advantage in the cooking department, as she’s a chef and instructor at the largest culinary school in Landeskog’s hometown of Stockholm, Sweden. She teaches high school students everything from food preparation to hygiene in the kitchen. She also oversees her students as they cook hot meals for the entire school.

Landeskog recalls how, as a youngster, he thoroughly enjoyed being around his mom as she showed off her cooking and teaching skills.

“I loved to go to work with her and just be part of her day and meet all her coworkers,” says the 23-year-old left wing. “I’d get to wear one of those chef outfits with the little white hat. Definitely great memories.”

Cecilia explains that while Gabriel and his twin sister, Beatrice, thought it was very exciting to interact with her students and colleagues, she had to limit their time in the school’s cooking areas as it was dangerous for young children to be around the hot ovens and cookware. Cecilia lovingly remembers Gabriel warning the kids, “be careful of those small chefs!”

Gabriel says his favorite dish is his mom’s salmon. “She makes it with lemon and dill and a lot of flavors and spices. I eat it before every game. I think part of that is because she always cooked it growing up.”

During the season, Landeskog’s pregame main course “isn’t quite the same” as Cecilia’s home-cooked version, but he always looks forward to indulging when he’s back in Stockholm.

Landeskog points out that his mom has many specialties, including a variety of Swedish courses, meat and fish dishes, and stews, but adds, “everything she whips up in the kitchen turns out to be magical.”

Landeskog moved to Canada at age 16 to pursue his dream of playing in the NHL, so he’s been away from home for over seven years. As a result, he’s learned his way around the kitchen, or at least how to operate a grill, fairly well.

“Every summer, on my balcony back home in Sweden, I like to do a lot of barbecuing,” says Landeskog, who in 2012 became the youngest captain in NHL history at age 19. “Every time I do cook, I text her for instructions. I ask, ‘What kind of temperature in the oven, or how long does this have to be on the stove?’

“I’m sure if you would ask my mom about my cooking, she would be a little disappointed. It’s something I’m still working on.”

Contrary to what he thinks, Cecilia says her youngest son “cooks good food.” She says becoming a good chef takes two key ingredients.

“Patience is good to have,” she explains, adding, “You have to practice, practice and more practice. No one is a good chef without practice.”

Landeskog knows all about patience and practice, two traits that have served him well in his young NHL career and as captain of the Avalanche.

Cecilia beams with pride as she talks about Gabriel and the impressive young man he has become.

“I am extremely proud of him as the athlete, but just as proud of him as a male role model,” she says. “Equally proud of him [being] involved in anti-bullying work. Equally proud that he is a true animal person; he adopted a puppy named Zoey last year. Equally proud that he is a generous and caring son.”

And even though they are several thousand miles apart, mother and son remain close.

“Every time we see each other we certainly make the days and the moments count,” Landeskog says. “She’s made me into the man I am today and she’s taught me a lot of things. Once you grow older, it becomes more of a friendship than a mother-son [relationship]. We have a lot in common and she teaches me, still to this day, about life in general – about her experience that she can pass on.”