Last Saturday we took part in Restaurant day, a day on which people are encouraged to open pop-up restaurants for one day. The idea is to celebrate food and restaurant culture and to have fun in (and with) the city. Our office was transformed into a thai lunch restaurant called Happy Start.
Jaakko from our office has spent a good portion of his life in Asia so to him thai cooking is home cooking (his childhood stories typically start with something like: “Once when I ran away from home into the jungle”). Jaakko’s sister Johanna was recruited as co-cook, Klaus and I waited on tables and Johanna’s daughter Sonja was the barista.
Rules and regulations are a big thing in Finland. You can’t even put a live candle on a child’s birthday cake at the daycare place because it might set off a fire. Actually you can’t bring a homemade cake either because of course there would immediately be food poisoning. So what they have is industrial cookies and a LED candle. How deeply, deeply depressing is that? So of course it is a complete miracle that Restaurant day is allowed to happen. But for some happy reason the authorities seem to be ok with it. We even had a health inspector as one of our customers. Ok, she was from Jaakko’s dog park scene, but still, she seemed really pleased. Sometimes all a city needs to do is not oppose, and interesting city culture will emerge all by itself. Without big masterplans.
A lot of our customers were friends but the thing that made the day really special were the strangers just coming in from the street. Otherwise it would have been like having a dinner party for your friends but charging them for the food. A lot of people seemed to be going from restaurant to restaurant, eating a starter in one place and the main course in another.
There were some moments of doubt during the preparations. When cooking in elementary conditions, when hunting down 36 chairs and running around the city looking for exotic ingredients, but when the day came everything went smoothly. After a beer we all said we would do it again. Now, all we have to do is come up with another theme.