Official Ambassador for Kuopio, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2020-2021
Restaurant Urban & Blocco
What are you known for?
I believe in the quality of food and putting the flavour first. I have a long history in the restaurant business, and I have had the opportunity to work in many places. I am a member of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs association. Winning the Top Chef Finland competition in 2015 accelerated our plans to establish our company Urban. Now our restaurant has its own twist. It also received recognition in Gloria’s Food & Wine magazine as Customer’s Choice as the best restaurant in Finland.
What is your favourite flavour memory?
In my childhood, we spent a lot of time at the cottage, and we fished and grew a lot of vegetables there. Finnish vegetable soup and whipped berry pudding my grandmother made have a special place in my heart. I am a strong believer of flavour memories and I continuously aim to create more of them. The best feedback from customers is when the customer experiences a memory based on a flavour, for example, from their childhood, which gives the culinary experience a new dimension.
What inspires you?
Gastronomy is a constantly evolving wheel. There are certain basic things around which you can build anything. You can also boldly combine old and new. I usually get inspiration from clean ingredients as well as colours, scents or even wonderful autumn foliage. You should also browse the menus and images that allows you to combine local ingredients with global flavours.
What is unique about the North Savo region and food culture?
Flavours. Seasonal variations have created different methods to prepare food. It is also important to know the history and the fact that before, preservation methods were a necessity, but today they can be used to create more varied flavours for different ingredients.
What food related secret would you like to share?
An easy introduction to wild herbs is the wood-sorrel. It is an excellent addition to a potato gruel, for example, as it brings colour and nature’s own acidity to the dish.
What kind of local gastronomic item would you bring as gifts?
Kalakukko. (A rye pastry crust stuffed with small fish and bacon.) I was once haggling over a motorcycle, and I included a kalakukko in my last offer. I got the bike.
Text: Oodia/Heta Jyrälä
Anssi Kantelinen, Restaurant Urban & Blocco