(29 Dec 2018) LEAD IN:
Chefs in Finnish Lapland are embracing a new Nordic food trend that celebrates traditional recipes and revives older techniques, such as fermenting.
New Nordic Cuisine was made popular by Rene Redzepi’s Michelin star-winning Noma restaurant in Copenhagen. Now that trend has spread to the Arctic Circle.
Far from trendy European food destinations – like Paris, Rome and London – chefs on the edge of the Arctic Circle are embracing the latest culinary trends.
At Finnish Lapland’s Arctic TreeHouse Hotel, chefs at Rakas restaurant are celebrating traditional Finnish dishes, but with a twist.
37-year-old British head chef, Jonathan Guppy – who moved to Finland in 2001 – says the local food scene wasn’t particularly adventurous, but it’s starting to be now.
“There’s a new cuisine, which has only been around for about ten years now called New Nordic Cuisine,” he says.
“We are experimenting with a few of those things here and hopefully the restaurant will become fully Nordic. So, we’ll phase out things like Italian and French, and just be Nordic and Finnish.”
New Nordic Cuisine was made popular by Danish chef Rene Redzepi, who opened Michelin star-winning Copenhagen restaurant Noma.
It was voted World’s Best Restaurant four times. Chefs are known to do their own curing, smoking and pickling.
The trend focuses on using locally-sourced ingredients, while reviving and adapting traditional dishes.
For Guppy, that means experimenting with traditional Lappish delicacies, such as reindeer meat, fresh lake fish, wild mushrooms and berries. A new menu is introduced with the seasons, every three months.
“New Nordic means it’s basically seasonality and locality. So, you use what’s in season and you use what is around you,” he says.
“Locality is also based on the seasons, so in summertime your seasons will get closer to you because you can grow more closer to you. In the wintertime, they’ll get a bit further away because you have to get things which are further away.”
Guppy’s Roasted Reindeer Ribs dish is a new twist on sautéed reindeer, perhaps Lapland’s best-known traditional meal.
Using reindeer ribs – a cut of meat often ignored by chefs – that were sourced from Inari, Guppy combines it with lingonberry jam, root vegetable crisps, rosemary and juniper.
“It’s really tasty. It’s quite juicy, actually,” says one guest.
Guppy says reindeer is now the most popular dish on their menu, along with Finnish fish pike perch. Burgers, on the other hand, aren’t that popular.
“I’m trying to show that yes, traditional food is okay, it’s great. We have sautéed reindeer here, which is the most traditional thing you can have,” says Guppy.
“But we’re also trying to say like; ‘Let’s keep going forward. Let’s see how far we can take this.’
“I mean, the French and the Italians didn’t stop when they had pasta and things, they just kept going and made different food, and now you know what French and Italian food is, what Spanish food is. New Nordic Cuisine, it’s only in its infancy, it’s ten-years-old, maybe that, and it’s just getting its own alphabets, new ideas, new things. Fermentations sound a bit weird to people, but we need the in the wintertime, just to preserve things, to give them flavours. Let’s keep going forward, let’s see what we can do.”
Making sure Nordic Cuisine is coming in from the cold.
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