Mänttä is a small town in Central Finland, about 250 km North from Helsinki. Food Camp Finland held its fourth Food & Art Festival there this August and we were happy to participate with our own pop up restaurant. Mänttä is a special place with beautiful nature, famous art museums and an amazing restaurant. Restaurant Gösta is run by Chef and Restaurateur, Henry Tikkanen, and it is part of our Olo Group family. I’d never been to Mänttä before – and it was about time.
I drove to Mänttä with Anssi and a fully loaded car. The first day was all about preparation and getting ready for the next few days. We were doing the mise en place at a local culinary school, which was perfect with its premises and helping hands. After a long day, we got to enjoy the local lakeside and spend some time with the other chefs, that were invited to take part in the event. One of the them was Michel Bras, a chef that has been an inspiration for me and many others. His book is the bible for many chef students and he has been a real pioneer in his field. Many modern cooking techniques and use of ingredients derive from him and it’s needless to say, I was honored to meet him.
The next days were exciting in many ways. Our Olo pop up was held for three nights in Autereen tupa, an idyllic little wooden house next to the famous Serlachius museum Gösta. It normally serves as a café for museum guests. An intimate and cozy place, I would say. The kitchen was not something we were used to, and even if it didn’t give us much room to move around, it gave us a lot of room to improvise. In the end, the intimacy turned out to be an advantage, since it made our guests feel like home. Me and my colleagues stepped out of the kitchen quite often and we even sat down with the guests to chat with them.
The experience was different, it was exceptional, but most of all, it was fun. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be scary but so rewarding. And I realize it over and over again as I do something new and crazy like this.
These pop up excursions always have their challenges (logistics, new kitchen etc.), but in the end, they’re always worth the extra trouble. Going to a new working environment is not only super inspiring but you get to know your colleagues better. For me, one of the best things was to be able to spend some time with two of my closest colleagues, Harri and Anssi, outside our own kitchen in Olo. We got home with tons of new ideas and I can’t wait for you to see what we’ve come up with.
Photos: Julius Konttinen