Over the years, The Finnish Chef of the Year has been selected over 20 times. As many as five of the winners, have been working in the Olo Group* during their career.
Since 1995 the Chef of the Year has been the Finnish championship of food service professionals. The competition season lasts for a year. During that time the winner of the competition attends in different medias, events and campaigns. The Chef of The Year competition has been a starting point for many Head Chef’s career. The winners of Chef of The Year competition have all made a successful career for themselves!
The first Chef of The Year was chosen in 1995. The owner and the founding member of Restaurant Olo, Pekka Terävä won the prize back then. “My competitive instinct has always been strong. It needs to be discharged into something. In 1995, when I was just about to finish my work in Sweden, I heard about the Chef of The Year competition through the Chefs’ Association. It was fun to compete with friends and they also gave me peer support.”
In the year of 2001, six years after Pekka’s victory, Henry Tikkanen redeemed the title of the Chef of The Year. “When I started to compete I had a frenzy to learn and to evolve as a chef. I was working at the G.W. Sundmans where the working spirit was very supportive. Everyone wanted to be the best Chef. I highly recommend attending the competition. It is a great way to develop yourself and to hone your expertise.” Today, Henry works as a restaurateur at restaurant Gösta, which is a part of Olo Group.
Six years later another face from the Olo Group took the podium. This time it was Eero Vottonen, who threw the first prize in 2012. Three years after the win Eero started working at Restaurant Olo. “To me, the flavor is the most important thing in food; It’s all in all. Ingredients play an important part of obtaining the balance of strong and tender tastes. What fascinates me most, is the long traditions of the Chef’s profession. It’s important to me to develop myself and to learn something new.” Today Eero works in the renewed restaurant Palace.
Heikki Liekola was rewarded as the Chef of The Year in 2014. Shortly after the win Heikki started working as the Head Chef of Restaurant Olo. “To the youth, and to the older ones too, I recommend competing. Competing improves your professional skills and tolerance of pressure. Also the relations, which are made during the competition, are almost equally important. Regardless of the outcome, the feeling after the competition is spectacular. Even if you would feel doubtful and nervous now, you’re a stronger Chef after the competition.” In January 2018 Heikki left the job in Olo and continued his career at restaurant Ask.
Immediately in the following year, 2015, Ismo Sipiläinen took the first place at the podium. Ismo worked in Olo before joining the competition. “I had to channel my competitiveness to something after I quit hockey, and the vocational school started. The Chef of The Year competition is very effective when developing your skills, but the training can also take the last spare of your time.” Ismo is currently working at Restaurant Finnjävel.
The Chef of the Year was selected at the Gatro Helsinki -fair, in the Helsinki Fair Centre on the 15th and 16th of March in 2018. Jesse Valkama and Mikko Pynnönen from Restaurant Olo took part in the competition with Kim Mustonen, the Head Chef of Garden by Olo and Mikko Kaukonen, the Head Chef of Food Camp Finland. Kim made his way up to the finals and at the end of the competition he was rewarded for his knife skills. Mikko earned the second place.
* Olo Group Ltd is owned by Pekka Terävä, Petri Lukkarinen and Teuvo Salminen. The key operations of Olo Group is to provide quality customer experiences and to cherish dining as a social interaction. Olo Group includes four restaurants, wine online-store Bottlescouts and also Food Camp Finland Oy, which is focusing on event production, consulting, training and catering. The best restaurants in Finland are a part of the Olo Group; Restaurant Olo, Garden by Olo, Emo and also Restaurant Gösta, which is in connection with The Serlachius Museum in Mänttä-Vilppula. Olo Group will open a new restaurant in October 2018.
Source: ELO – Foundation for Promoting Finnish Food Culture