A virtual flight to Helsinki. Sasu Laukkonen of Michelin starred Ora restaurant talks about his life these days.
How did your city change because of the virus?
My city has become a ghost-town. The worst is that people are suffering because of the lack of social contacts – and it’s so funny because people always joke about Fins saying that we are not very social!
Much good too – people are very happy when they see someone smiling and give lots of great feedback to everybody who is trying hard to manage or do at least something that matters.
What was your first thought when coronavirus appeared and how do you see it now?
I’m actually still thinking the same as the first day – it all feels a little bit like living in a catastrophe-movie – for me it has been weird seeing how people have been raised without any fear of a pandemics and now all of a sudden they are trying to keep safe after initially they tried to not care at all. Personally, I am totally okay and balanced – not in a mood like many others – some are pissed off and some depressed.
How are you spending these days?
Pounding sushi and dinners to people – 15 hours a day and 6 days a week.
You transformed your restaurant …
Complete transformation, I turned Michelin starred dinner restaurant into a sushi pop up in one night!
Only good things came out of it. Have not had to lay anyone off. People (guests) are so happy. And I hear this every day when guests buying take away say that ”this is such a great idea” – purchasing sushi from the kitchen window! So many people have already asked me to open a sushi bar after this!
But also, now we are selling bags for people to eat at home with a complete ORA-dinner: three courses plus bread and butter. With minimum effort for people to make a great dinner at home. And all for a price of 84€ for two people.
This is a hard time for all working in hospitality – also for the suppliers of restaurants, farmers, those who offer services to the restaurants. What should we do to support each other and survive also economically?
I’m trying to buy and use everything that my farmers have available to support them as much as I can.
What are you doing to remain positive?
Everything! From general happy vibes with our team to absolutely not letting a single negative thought through..
How do you see life after coronavirus?
It will be different.
I don’t think we are going back to the life we had.
This “staying at home” time can be also a great time for reflection. Do you think it will provoke some change in your life and work?
Yes of course. I think people might want to work more from home. Also companies might have to pay less rent if this would happen. Insurance companies will have a hard time later, especially because we have been paying them for not getting hit by pandemics and such but they have not given us a penny because they only cover for a pandemic which starts from my restaurant… crazy eh?
I also think that people will want to eat differently in the future.
Maybe more at home?
Do you have any message for other chefs around the world?
DON’T GIVE UP!
Damn it. You are intelligent and gifted people!
Help people get some sunshine into their day and you will help yourself and your team too!