Fine Finland 

FINE FINLAND – a country full of the unexpected

FINE FINLAND presents the different seasons of Finland in Lapland, the Archipelago and Helsinki. It includes Finnish traditions, culture, design, nature and seasonal food based on our own pristine ingredients, which have been prepared by four top-class Finnish chefs, Matti Jämsén, Markus Maulavirta, Jaakko Sorsa and Toni Kostian.

The changing of the seasons has a powerful influence on ‘Finnishness’, all the way from food to art and architecture. Finland differs from the other Nordic countries in its position between the East and the West. History, weather conditions and shortages of some of life’s necessities have made the Finns into a unique people who do not easily give up.

The book conveys the Finnish ambience, an ambience that can be found nowhere else in the world: a simple relationship with nature, which is always nearby and provides the very best fruits for our food culture. Finland is a unique society and country that very few know well but that many admire.

“You cannot fail in the kitchen”

RESTAURATEUR, CHEF AND FOOD DESIGNER MATTI JÄMSÉN is a dedicated perfectionist in his work. He is President of Team Finland at the international Bocuse d’Or world chef championship and one of the contest’s 24 judges. Jämsén describes himself as a technical chef who is always searching for new flavours, even in his spare time.

“I relax by going with my wife to eat in different restaurants. In Helsinki, my favourites are Vinkkeli and Grön. When abroad, I often visit the Geranium in Copenhagen.”

The Bocuse d’Or is a top-class chef championship that was inaugurated in 1987 and is held every second year in Lyon, France. In 2019, the teams from the Nordic countries shone in the contest: Denmark won, Sweden came second, Norway third and Finland fourth. According to Jämsén, the triumphal march of Nordic cuisine can be explained by its open-minded attitude. “In many Southern European countries, food culture is so strong and traditional that you can’t really diverge from it. We in the North do not fear modifying old things and inventing new ones,” says Jämsén. The main ingredients, such as meat, are given to the contestants at the contest venue, but you can take local specialities with you from home, like smoked reindeer, spruce shoots and typically Finnish Jaloviina spirit, also known as ‘Jallu’. It was ultimately used to make a sauce for the meats. The look and presentation of the food are very important in the contest and, in this respect, Scandinavian simplicity is a strength. “In the contest, the most important things of all are international visibility and networks. Because it is a contest where the food is judged, it’s easy just to give points to those countries that have already gained trust and a good reputation. It’s therefore important to distinguish yourself through some special feature like Norwegian salmon, scallops and other seafood.”

“People from abroad are amazed that here anybody can just go into the forest and gather the fruits of nature.”

According to Jämsén, something special about Finland is its forests where berries and mushrooms grow that anyone can pick. “People from abroad are amazed that anybody can just go into the forest and gather the fruits of nature by virtue of public right of access or ‘everyman’s law’. Many think that this is incredible.” For Finns, endless forests, lakes and virgin countryside are a natural part of life that you don’t even have to think about. Even urban Finns inherit the sense from their mother’s milk that they are surrounded by space to breathe and that pristine nature is close by. “My mission in life is to raise Finnish food up to its rightful position in international arenas,” says Jämsén.

Matti Jämsén’s Finnish winter menu

For starters, vendace roe from Kitka, sour cream, dill and red onion. Next, venison tartare, lingonberries and blood sausage made from deer blood. Then creamy burbot soup, marinated onions and almond potatoes. Next comes root celery stewed for a long time and mature chargrilled Vilho cheese. For dessert, Fazer’s Mignon eggs.