Godfather of "Restaurant Day" becomes Helsinki Resident of the Year
Olli Sirén and his friends came up with the most noteworthy urban phenomenon of 2011
It is easier to apologise after the fact than to ask for permission.
This was the guideline that the newly-chosen Helsinki Resident of the Year Olli Sirén used when he launched Restaurant Day, a project warmly embraced by the Finnish capital.
On the Restaurant Day enthusiastic town residents can set up pop-up restaurants and cafés in various parts of the city to demonstrate their culinary skills and serve home-made food to the public.
The one-day event proved a huge success from the word go.
It was advertised on Facebook, and already for the very first Restaurant Day in May of last year fifty impromptu restaurants sprung up around the Finnish capital.
The second such event in August saw almost 200 pop-up eateries, and the third one in November no less than 300.
“The Restaurant Day demonstrates a new way of doing things, in which people are propelled into action with the help of social media”, Sirén explains.
Despite the fact that no permits were sought from the authorities, the feedback from the city has been positive, even rapturous.
“Surely the Restaurant Day’s greatest merit lies in how it has broadened the perception among the authorities and the city leaders of how the urban culture can be developed. Praise has been received even from as high as Mayor Jussi Pajunen.”
Sirén, too, looks like a born and bred Helsinki resident: sleek hair combed back, tight trousers squeezing the calves, tie squeezing the neck.
The coat collar is raised up, necessitated by the harsh winds of the coastal city.
But the looks are deceiving.
Sirén, who was born in nearby Porvoo, only moved to Helsinki during his last year of upper secondary school in 2004.
Nevertheless, he already considers Helsinki his hometown.
In addition to the Restaurant Day, Sirén has also already been involved in organising the "We Love Helsinki" and "Children’s Helsinki" happenings.
According to the association of metro-desk journalists, the issuers of the Helsinki Resident of the Year accolade, Sirén and his friends have managed to come up with something completely new for which there was clearly a crying need.
The Helsinki Resident of the Year was chosen for the 14th time, and previous winners have included Bubi, one of Helsinki's urban eagle-owls, whose contribution to Finland's footballing success in 2007 won him the accolade.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Dozens of pop-up restaurants set up in Helsinki on restaurant day Saturday (21.11.2011)
Authorities take hard line on unlicensed serving of alcohol beverages on Restaurant Day (10.11.2011)
Bubi wins Helsinki Resident of the Year accolade (18.12.2007)