Over 10,000 attend Taste of Finland festival
Turnout exceeds expectations, in spite of rain
By Pauliina Grönholm
The popularity of the Taste of Finland food festival over the weekend exceeded the expectations of the organisers. The main organiser Barry MacNamara said that restaurants taking part in the outdoor culinary event in the centre of Helsinki had to replenish their supplies from time to time.
In four days more than 10,000 people showed up at the festival held in tents set up in front of the new Music Centre. The most popular day was Saturday when more than 3,500 people showed up.
“To be quite honest, this was more than we dared hope for”, MacNamara said.
Taking part in the event were ten Finnish first-class restaurants. Helsinki restaurants included Fa¬rang, De¬mo, Mu¬ru, Juu¬ri, Ai¬to, Ca¬re¬lia and Tos¬ca¬ni¬ni. From Turku there was the restaurant Smör, from Tampere there was C, and from Kirkkonummi, Bistro O Mat.
Each restaurant offered a choice of three dishes, out of which the visitors were allowed to compile a menu to their liking.
The heavy rain on Sunday did not bother Satu Orismaa from Tuusula, or Paula Korkeamäki from Lahti.
“We decided to come here ages ago before we knew anything about the weather”, Korkeamäki said.
The two had studied the offerings in advance. The starter – the smoked fish soup offered by Juuri got full points. However, the filet of horse with rhubarb prepared by the C from Tampere was something of a disappointment. “It could have had more taste”, Korekeamäki lamented.
The dishes cost between four and six euros apiece, in addition to an entrance fee of EUR 25. Orismaa and Korkeamäki felt that the fee was reasonable.
“The portions were larger than we had expected”, Orismaa said.
The most popular fare was from Farang, whose crisp pork was also the favourite of Orismaa and Korkeamäki. Restaurateur Tomi Björck says that 2,500 portions of it were sold on Saturday alone.
Björck has previously worked in Australia as an organiser of a “Taste of Sydney” event. From his point of view, the arrangements in Helsinki were excellent.
“It was one of the best-organised events that I have ever been involved in”, he said.
There was some criticism from visitors. On Friday there were not enough tables. Also, the use of special plastic markka, instead of regular cash to pay for the food was confusing for some visitors.
“More tables were brought on Saturday, and the money exchange issue was clarified, but of course we took heed of the feedback with future events in mind”, MacNamara promised.
The festival was modelled after similar happenings in other countries. The first such event was held in London in 2004.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 18.6.2012
Previously in HS International Edition:
Irish chef behind Taste of Helsinki event (12.6.2012)
PAULIINA GRÖNHOLM / Helsingin Sanomat