Ville Relander has quite the title. He is the Project Manager of Culinary Culture Strategy of the City of Helsinki. Since three years he’s been THE guy, who’s work is all about food in Hel. Roots in hospitality industry, former post CEO-ing local real food shop Anton&Anton. International, multitalented, food enthusiast. A really nice guy, I must say.

Someone in the city government must have been a brave visionary to have hired him. And I don’t mean hiring especially him, but having the balls to convince someone higher in the rank, that city would have great use for a post like this. And for a guy like this.

Ville has said, that he never thought he'd end up working for the city government and I think that is what it’s all about. He defines his role as being about promoting, encouraging and inspiring. Something that is usually not thought to be the first priorities of city authorities and officials.

I asked him to name some achieved goals from the past three years he’s especially proud of.
Streat Helsinki was definitely the highlight so far, it was a positive knock out that showed what this city could be and what great food does to people. However The Abattoir aka Teurastamo is a great project too, I just wish we could speed up the development of this area.”
Radio Helsinki's recent move to the grounds must be some of the speeding up he means.

Helsinki might appear as a cool food destination, but when booking tickets for a city trip, there’s also the tough Scandi competition nearby. And since Ville is so in in the scene I wanted to know his opinion about what makes Helsinki special, in comparison to Stockholm and Copenhagen.
“I don’t see this as a competition, it’s more of a Nordic movement where we collaborate with the food community. Well, I have to admit that we are over here an underdog that is now starting barking and we might not be as well groomed. Helsinkians are really curious nowadays and thats probably very inspiring, and it pushes, for our brave and creative food entrepreneurs. It’s no secret that our location next to Russia and Estonia gives an edge too.”

When asked to name three food related recommendations for a first-time Helsinki visitor, the public servant in him comes up: He couldn't stop at three but named five. And there's no doubt the list could have gone on and on and on.

1) Get here during a Restaurant day weekend (next one is Aug 17!)
2) Try one of the old school restaurants too, such as Kosmos or Sea Horse.
3) Have a coffee at Freese Coffee.
4) The food markets are a must, especially the “Old Market Hall” (re-opening early June) and if you get a chance go foraging too.
5) I cant stop..check out one of the foodie street such as Kolmas Linja or Vaasankatu/Flemingkatu.

1 comment :

  1. I totally agree with you that someone in the city government must have been a great visionary when even coming up with an idea to hire someone to promote and develop local food culture in Helsinki. And a lot has been happening in Helsinki in the recent years.

    Well, sure it is not just Ville, it is the whole new generation of entrepreneurs, But still the city has also been a great enabler by restoring the market halls and putting together Teurastamo, just to pinpoint few great projects. We should have more public servants like him.