Yesterday has Sasu Laukkonen opened the next chapter in his life. He opened his new restaurant called Ora. It is located in the same place where Chef & Sommelier was welcoming the guests in the past years, but it has a new name, a new concept, a new look.
What are the main differences between Chef & Sommelier and the new Ora?
Biggest changes are the restaurant name, the open kitchen and greater focus on Finnish ingredients. Actually also the tables and furniture are all handmade by the local carpenter – Joonas Vaissi. They were designed by me and him together. The whole package will be a very different experience and value for the guest, I hope that people will feel this when coming to my new restaurant.
Our menu will rapidly change according to microseasons and seasons, best possible pairings will be created to match the food and we are dedicating a great attention to the service as well.
We have put a great attention into sourcing of the best local organic ingredients. I have done local organic cuisine before too, but there is a difference. Old concept was an easy going “come as you are”, “eat pure ingredients” … a no fuss kind of a restaurant.
The new concept is a modern cuisine with a higher aim – made with local produce following the ideology to embrace Finland and the Finnish produce only. Taking things forward for us and for the guests. Much more work, heart and soul behind everything we offer.
Ora is a huge change for me. It is a completely new chapter where I personally took care of every detail: all the furniture in the restaurant was made by the local carpenter out of Finnish wood, tables were my idea, we are using Finnish glass etc.
Also we are much more focused on the service, it will be a really new experience! But we still don’t expect you to wear a suit …
What do you see as the main difference between the Finnish and other Nordic cuisines?
We are a country of lakes and forests. In much bigger volume than the others.
Our cuisine roots are actually quite peasant-like, very humble. But our ingredients are incredible, and the problem is that we’ve always been too humble about them.
And what is most special about Sasu?
I’m not only a chef – I used to work in front of the house before I started cooking. So I think I have a wider view on the hospitality and am not focused only on food. I enjoy being in the dining room with my guests.
What is your idea of an ideal restaurant?
For me the ideal restaurant is where the team is happy and recharged after the days off, smiling and ready for anything. We aim to accomplish this by being open only four days per week. So everybody has three days off in a row every week before the working week starts. Chef & Sommelier was open Tuesday to Saturday, so five nights per week.
For my guests, the ideal restaurant is where they get to see what we do much more transparently and they feel to be the central part of the experience.
Also, people can come for dinner Wednesday to Saturday or for lunch on Friday and Saturday. Which means I am serving also lunch for the first time! There will be the same experience for lunch and dinner, so whatever the guests’ schedule is like, we will try to make it possible to accommodate all their needs.
I opened Ora as an expression of where I stand now, showing what I have learnt through all these years – the result is a place that I hope will make happy my team as well as our guests.