Pekka Terävä: "Working towards better tomorrow"

"I have been involved in the Finnish restaurant and culinary business for quite a long time, and now is a good moment to reflect on what has been the driving force propelling me forward", says Pekka Terävä, Creative Leader at Olo Collection Oy.




"If this question had been asked of me 15 years ago, my answer would likely have been the pursuit of offering the perfect pepper steak to the customer. At that time, my focus was predominantly on deconstructing food into its atoms. Today, the most significant thing is not the food itself but what happens around it. In a somewhat exaggerated manner, I am more focused on the atmosphere I can convey through food and drinks. I derive the greatest joy from seeing customers enjoying each other’s company at the restaurant table. So, in my world today, food and drink are tools which enable encounters.

The evolution of my mindset has been a natural progression. The red thread in my work has always been – and still is – the development of Finnish food culture and making it visible in Finnish society. Therefore, my greatest wish is that the significance of social encounters facilitated by food and dining would be more widely understood in our society, leading Finnish food culture to evolve in a direction like that of cultures in France and Spain. Fortunately, the younger generation approaches food and dining in a different way from previous generations. They utilize restaurant services and, through their consumption habits, contribute to building a richer urban culture. We are on the right path, but time is still needed to bridge the gap.

Competitions like Bocuse d’Or have also been part of my work and personal evolution. Competing had its significance at a certain stage in my career, and back then, perhaps somewhat naively, I thought I could accelerate the development of food culture through them. Now I understand that it requires action on a broader front. One man’s vision is not enough.

An old saying goes that one must understand history to comprehend the present. Finland is a Lutheran rule-based society where the starting point for many things is often production-oriented. I believe this has also been reflected in the Bocuse d’Or competition, where over the years, team Finland has focused on technical performance with such seriousness that we have overlooked the importance of social encounters, networks, and marketing. Performance and a perfect result are important, but they alone are not sufficient. Equally important is the courage to boldly showcase ourselves and our skills to thrive. It seems that we have now taken a step forward in this regard.

Passion is needed for the development of food culture, and I still have plenty of it. My wish is that the day I retire from these endeavors, Finland would be a better place for human encounters, and restaurants would have a widely accepted role as facilitators of them. So, with this mindset, I keep on working towards a better tomorrow!"

Pekka Terävä – Creative Leader, partner at Olo Collection Oy

Pekka Terävä is a Finnish chef and restaurateur who has achieved success in several international cooking competitions. He serves as the Creative Leader and partner at Olo Collection, a group of distinctive restaurants and boundary-pushing dining experiences that have evolved around the Michelin-starred restaurant Olo. The restaurants within the Olo collection include: OLO, Garden by Olo, Emo, Ego, Scolare, Banco Vini, Brasa, Bar Blanda, Forza, Särkänlinna, Olkkalan Kartano, Olo Creative Catering.

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