Jari Vesivalo is the man behind the beautifully executed food at Olo in Helsinki. Famed for his talent for balance and a light touch, Vesivalo describes Olo’s gastronomy as simplistic and natural. In his words, “The less you’ve got on your plate, the more carefully it has to be prepared.” He has a strong passion for Finnish nature and its unique beauty which is artfully reflected in every dish on the restaurant’s menu Every dish is part of a huge puzzle where all the pieces have to fall perfectly into place.
Jari Vesivalo, who is married with two young daughters, describes himself as Creative Leader at the Michelin-starred Olo restaurant, having worked there in the past as Executive Chef, and as Sous-Chef at Chez Dominique, as well as a host of other prestigious restaurants in Finland since embarking on a career in gastronomy in 1989.
In February this year, Olo kept its one Michelin star although Vesivalo says it’s actually all about reearning the privilege since it isn’t a lifetime award and has to be earned every day. The tasting menus flaunt the edible riches of the region in skilfully rendered, thoroughly modern dishes which allow the natural ingredients to shine. Think Finnish perch, perch roe, salted spring fennel, asparagus and wild garlic emulsion or spring beetroot, smoked goat‘s milk, caramelized hazelnuts, lemon thyme and dried blackcurrant or even liquorice, frozen buttermilk, lemon verbena and malt, each a mini-masterpiece of colour and texture in its own right.
Jari Vesivalo wants his diners to enjoy themselves, saying that it doesn’t matter how you hold the fork because it’s the overall experience that makes the difference. With an emphasis on buying only what the restaurant needs each day and sourcing his ingredients directly from local producers, he is able to ensure total freshness, quality and excellence of taste. Values which Vesivalo also brought to the Olo Garden and his summer pop-up in Mänttä.
The less you’ve got on your plate, the more carefully it has to be prepared.
Talking about his work in the kitchen, Vesivalo says the job of a chef isn’t glamorous: constant cleaning, at least three times a day, being prepared for the unexpected no matter how much advance planning goes in, making dishes from scratch every day with a rush that is intense from seven in the morning until six in the evening when guests arrive.
“The atmosphere is electrified, when the guests arrive, and the serving begins. It is the h-hour, it’s what the whole day is aimed at. All talking is paused when we all just focus on our mission. It’s the start of four hours of meditation, during that everything else in the world is forgotten. Everything is ready and in its own place, no need to do anything other than cook and not worry about other things.”
So come prepared and let guest chef Jari Vesivalo take you on an unforgettable Scandinavian odyssey through intriguing flavours, explosions of colour and the perfect balance between texture and taste at Restaurant Ikarus in Hangar-7 in June 2018.
ServusTV: Culinary Heights at Ikarus on ServusTV
Each month at Salzburg’s two Michelin-starred Restaurant Ikarus, a different top international chef creates the menu. For this globally unique concept, Hangar-7 executive chef Martin Klein visits the cream of the crop, takes a look behind the scenes of haute cuisine, and is let in on some exciting culinary secrets. “Culinary Heights at Ikarus” offers a unique glimpse into the world of high-end cuisine and provides an interesting portrait of each guest chef, their culinary philosophy, and the food culture of their country.