January 8, 2016

Helsinki Food Trends 2016

Year 2015 was great for Helsinki food culture and there's even better things coming up.

About the author

Joona Lehto

Member of the Culinary Team Finland

Helsinki Food Culture on the Rise

It’s time to recap what year 2015 brought to our restaurant scene and also check out the most important food trends and tendencies of 2016. Year 2015 was remarkable for development of Helsinki´s food culture. We can no longer speak about street food or fast casual as new things this year. Those are here to stay.

When it comes to low budget, home delivery and laid back eating, your only options aren´t pizza or kebab anymore. Local and organic thinking is business as usual for the chefs. Food events brought together big volume of visitors last year. Street Food Thursdays and always great Taste of Helsinki were those that we especially remember. Right now we have a rising food culture in Helsinki which will never be the same again.

The Helsinki food trends of 2016 will strongly relate to: getting the food easier, more versatile catering services, vegetarian food, easy-going service and increasing offerings of ethnic food. We have very interesting year ahead of us. These are the Top 5 food trends of this year by heleats.

Food delivery from your favorite restaurant

Digitalization will have a great influence to the food business. Last years’ hottest talking points were food delivery services Wolt and Foodora. These companies have expanded our way of viewing food delivery with their applications and easy mobile payment systems. Just a moment ago ordering food meant kebab or pizza, but now you can order a portion of Meze from Restaurant Levant or a pulled pork sandwich from Street Gastro. These service providers are working together with different restaurants to deliver food wherever you want. Easy and straightforward.

Many restaurants and foodies (including us; article here) have been testing Foodora and Wolt since last year. Feedback from the service has been positive and it´s functionality has been proved with a help of thousands of people. We believe food delivery services will be part of the everyday lives of the local people in 2016.

Private chefs will become popular

What if you could enjoy a meal cooked by a Chef of the Culinary Team Finland at your home instead of going out to a restaurant? Or if Top Chef winner Akseli Herlevi would grill the steaks instead of you at your annual summer party. Nowadays many of the professionals of restaurant industry do private chef and catering jobs alongside their day-to-day jobs. Booking a private chef to parties and events has become popular all over Europe and North-America because of grown offering and marketing. Chefs are eager to come and cook their food at different events and the customers will get new experiences. Only limit is your imagination.

Tailored service is what makes the use of the private chefs unique for the customer: chef can plan a menu, cooking school, wine tasting or tapas just for you at his own style. For example you can order a five-course menu with matching wines instead of three-course menu at your evening gathering. Your own choices define the price of food and services. We believe that this year the use of private chefs will be a phenomenon assisted by Foodiac-service for example.

Foodiac is company that helps private chefs to sell their services and get more visibility. It is like a product catalogue for sommeliers and catering services. From the website of Foodiac you can order The Finnish Chef of The Year 2014 -competition winner Heikki Liekola or the Finland food ambassador Kim Palhus to cook for your evening gathering or even to have a cooking school.

Vegetables will play the leading role

The last few years you have probably found a vegetarian dish from almost every restaurant. Still most people choose meat or fish option from the menu. This will change because many people does not want to eat meat or fish on every single meal of the day anymore. People have started to give value on the vegetarian food on a whole new level. Also many chefs have praised the deliciousness of the greens for a long time. Their place on the plate is no more only a side garnish. In future they will often act a leading role.

We believe in 2016 we will see an increase on supply and demand of vegetarian food. With different techniques and cooking methods chefs are putting the regular vegetables on the spotlight. In media professional chefs talk on behalf of ethicality: massive feasting on mass produced meat is unbearable and even immoral. Restaurants like Chef & Sommelier, Ask and Grön lead the way on putting vegetables, root vegetables, berries and mushrooms to the spotlight. In these restaurants the staff and the owners pick their own vegetables from the wilds. Many restaurants also have their own cultivation field where they grow their own greens. The head chef of Chef & Sommelier Sasu Laukkonen kept a speech for international audience last year about why chefs should be a part of the growing process of the greens.

Many restaurants have already improved their variety of vegetarian dishes. For example Mediterranean restaurant Krog Madame informed on their Facebook pages that they will grow their selection of vegetarian options. We believe that many restaurants will follow this example.

Even more relaxed food and culture

For several years now we have seen restaurants transforming into relaxed bistros. This means that in Helsinki there is not so much fine dining-style restaurants, instead we now have more relaxed and straightforward places where the serving etiquette isn’t read so precisely. When restaurants become more bistro style the food often takes a step to more simple style: reducing components and respecting old cooking methods. Easy going restaurant Pompier is a perfect example since it used to be a fine dining restaurant Postres previously.

Nowadays Helsinki also has several stores which include a cafeteria. In shared facilities both of the businesses benefit from each others customers. This generates concepts that has never been seen before in Helsinki. What would be nicer than enjoying a good cup of coffee while searching something to buy from decorations shop. This is also a sign of more liberal, straightforward and innovative teamwork of entrepreneurs. Great example of this teamwork is Plootu which is a store that includes two furniture importers and a coffee shop.

One of the last years’ most interesting additions to the Helsinki restaurant scene was Baskeri & Basso on Tehtaankatu. This restaurant has unreserved service, rustic decor and very simple food, but tasty food. Nothing is too fancy and they want to make you feel cosy. It is the relaxed food and culture.

We believe this year we will see more real bistros like Baskeri & Basso where you can literally go for a late night snack just the way you are.

New ethnic flavors

Many new fast casual-style restaurants opened up last year. Majority of those offer us a chance to enjoy new global flavors from different parts of the world. One of the last years rising stars was mexican cuisine, which became very popular rapidly. Now in Helsinki we can enjoy that spicy food in restaurants like Lucha Loco and Ahorita. Another major trend has been ramen. It is japanese-style noodle soup often including pork or fish. Restaurant Fat Ramen in the Hietalahti Market Hall started this phenomenon. You can also get ramen from restaurant called Momo Toko which is located in Kluuvi.

We are sure we will have even more great restaurants in Helsinki serving us more ramen, burritos, falafel and curry. We will also have completely new and exotic flavor experiences. Maybe in 2016 you can get authentic South-African braai from Helsinki. Who knows?

In the end

World develops constantly and we see digitalization everywhere around us. It was only a matter of time when someone realized to start using it as a tool to make business in restaurant industry. The growing usage of private chefs arise from tailoring: modern folks want that their needs are noticed individually. Green thinking and sustainable development are the main reasons of rising success of the vegetables. People want to do their part for better environment and nature. Easy-going and straightforward services are important nowadays when it comes to choosing restaurant for the night. Folks in Helsinki want living rooms with a pleasant atmosphere apart from the luxury fine dining experiments. We can also see the globalization in variety of different restaurants which is very welcome. Diversity in food culture is wealth.

With these words we wish you a delicious year 2016. May the food culture of Helsinki be as great and even better as it was last year.

And remember that the Culinary Olympics are held this year. I hope we will cook as strong as the young hockey lions did play! Culinary Team Finland is determined to win gold medal at Erfurt.