Into the wild: How one chef is leading the way in food foraging

Chef Jyrki Tsutsunen is bringing his ingredients to plates around Finland, one foraged mushroom at a time

Kimmo Brandt
Sunday 07 February 2021 00:01 GMT

In Finland you can find edible, wild, naturally growing food everywhere, from national parks to green public urban areas – even people's backyards. Foraging for berries and mushrooms is deeply rooted in the country’s culture.

A central aspect of this lifestyle is “everyman's right”, which refers to the right of everyone to enjoy outdoor pursuits – including nature's nutritious yields – regardless of who owns or occupies a given area. Eating freshly picked wild blueberries from a forest is a unique experience in itself!

Food tourism and visits to wild nature inspire people, both in Finland and around the world. There are already a few restaurants that serve dishes and invent entire menus that are prepared using only ingredients sourced from nearby forests, which can be treasure troves of nutritional gems, providing unique flavours from wild vegetables and herbs such as nettles, dandelions, birch leaves and pine cones.

Chef Jyrki Tsutsunen is one of the leading advocates of wild food in Finland. Tsutsunen, who prefers not to call himself a chef, employs a rather unconventional approach to food culture. He prioritises and promotes responsibility and ecology in modern gastronomy. For years, Tsutsunen worked as a chef in the kitchen of the St Petersburg Consulate. Today, he works as a freelancer, organising unique and memorable culinary and cultural events. In addition to tasting experiences, Tsutsunen wants to bring other senses, memories and emotional states to the table.

Nearly all the food he serves and prepares for the events is made of ingredients he has collected himself from nature. Tsutsunen's imagination is limitless. In his cuisine, he might use – in addition to more common wild herbs – pine cones, lichens and ants, to name only a few. To complement the culinary experience, the events also feature live music.

His current dining event is titled “Bones, Trees, Spoons” and presented together with percussionist Tatu Roenkkoe, whose music is produced with instruments such as pots, pans and birch whisks that are typically used in saunas. It was scheduled to tour around Europe in summer 2020, but due to the pandemic, events were held only in Finland.


Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in