As the campfire warms up, the wilderness chef has been already doing a long day of preparations, carrying the equipment and adapting the table setting to suit the weather conditions. The recipes have been carefully designed and everything has to work in the heart of nature without the comforts of a restaurant kitchen. In these conditions, the chef is also present all the time, and the tricks are not even figuratively left behind the kitchen doors.
“The wilderness chef is always on display, as the cooking itself is as important as the end result. The sourcing of natural ingredients, preparations and succeeding together with the group is an endurance game that rewards time and time again, ”says Anssi Lohvansuuu, who has been cooking with open fire for more than 20 years.
Concorde never arrived, but the wild chef brought his teachings to Nuuksio
Lohvansuu, who has made a long and winding trip to Kaitlampi, is one of the first trained wilderness guides in Finland. Campfire food took over during the years in Lapland, Inari and Rovaniemi.
At the campfire, you can hear stories about the last tourists who arrived in Concordella Rovaniemi and high-profile guests who wanted to develop a traditional, high-quality food culture, even in excursion conditions. Lohvansuu draws its own recipes from authentic food traditions.
“Finns were living in wooden cottages with open fires since the British have already studied in universities, so the old traditions are not that far from the past. Regional differences create their own tastes and stories. Yeast did not preserve in the cottage kitchens of the north, while log houses were built much earlier in the east, food was stewed for a long time and bread was soured. The North was also a great place because there was enough international guests and demand for traditional catering. Concorde never flew to Helsinki, only to Rovaniemi”, Lohvansuu explains.
Naturally organic from up close and always based on the natures seasons
Fresh natural products, such as mushrooms, fish and, of course, game, are a trademark of Lohvansuu and all belong to the chef’s personal favorite ingredients. “I do not hunt myself, but whenever I get an invitation to make a game soup for a group of hunters, I know for sure that it’s a great honor for the chef,” Lohvansuu reveals.
In addition to hunting clubs, wilderness chefs have been employed by diverse groups of companies and parties who want to offer delicious food in the heart of nature. Wild herbs, domestic fish, blueberry tea and definitely this fall, goat meat in various forms are typical flavors, but preserving raw ingredients is also an important skill. Traditional breads, such as rieska, are served all year round.
“Currently, a lot is invested in vegetarian food and the experience produced in nature must always be on a sustainable base. The aim is to cook such delicious packages with a low carbon footprint that it is easy to choose them and at the same time new ideas and thoughts will be taken home, ”Lohvansuu continues.
The scenery of Nuuksio surprised the wilderness man from Central Finland
as Lohvansuu settled south well over ten years ago. Although the work constantly takes you to nature everywhere, the Nuuksio area receives a good review from an expert. “This is a great and surprising place as a nature destination. Good connections enable the practice of the profession and it opens up the possibility for more and more people to experience nature. Here you will also always find peaceful places to go and calm down or try new tastes with friends and family, ”Lohvansuu sums up.
Wilderness chef´s work is strongly combined with the activities of nature and experience of the services. There are no official certificates for the title, but Lohvansuuu himself nurtures the noble skill of campfire cooking by teaching future chefs at various educational institutions.
“In the wilderness, in an open fire, you have to have a certain experience and professional pride in cooking. I would love to see successors and demand to these skills. I myself am a third-generation entrepreneur in rural tourism, just like Hawkhill’s team, and they share the same mindset in respecting natural values and valuing their own work, ”says Lohvansuu.