A 36-Year-Old Hardboiled Chef
Matti grew up in Oulunkylä, a suburb of Finland’s capital Helsinki. He mastered the secrets of cooking at Roihuvuori vocational school before the turn of the millennium.
As he hates losing more than anything, competitions have been Matti's passion for a long time. He's represented Finland twice in the Bocuse d’Or competition in Lyon, France – also known as the world chef championship.
On his first try in 2011, Matti finished a frustrated fifth. In February 2015, he brought home Finland's best ranking so far by finishing fourth, and was awarded a prize for the world's best meat platter. The team's commis Antti Lukkari proved himself the world's best assistant. Matti and his assistant also managed to reach fourth place in the European qualification rounds i Stockholm, on their way towards the final in Lyon.
During his career Matti has also been awarded a couple of other distinguished titles. He was Finland's Chef of the year in 2005 and won the Food and Fun competition in Iceland in 2011.
Several times in his career Matti has had the priviledge of taking part in competitions that many chefs can only dream of. In preparing for these competitions he's grown personally and professionally in an extraordinary way. Practicing for professional cooking competitions is comparable to the life of an elite athlete. Schedules during practice season are carefully planned, and the competitor must be in excellent physical shape in order to stay focused all the way through the long and sweaty competition without making any mistakes.
Like elite athletes and top chefs, Matti too had a long way to go
The early years of his career taught him the essentials of a chef's work: speed. His first job was at Restaurant Cella, popular with artists in Helsinki’s Kallio area. Matti's next stop was Vaakuna hotel's Memphis, where hamburgers and funny desserts such as Coke with ice cream were all the rage at the time. After that, he spent a summer working in the coastal resort town of Hanko.
After a time at Limone and the Kalastajatorppa kitchens, Matti found himself in Katajanokka Casino where he discovered his passion for fine dining.
In 2002, Matti made an important decision to leave Finland for Norway – the promised land of seafood. He wanted change, he was curious and he knew that a colleague would be working in the same village.
Among the fjords Matti learned a lot the hard way. In one of Norway's most respected restaurants, he was taught to warm his cold hands inside the birds he had just cleaned. In the outdoor kitchen area, the temperature was way under zero and the owner didn't want to waste money heating a good cold store. That same restaurant left many other rough impressions. It was the place where Matti learned to stick up for himself. In Oslo he also worked in Restaurant Statholdergaarden, owned by Bent Stiansen who became a role model for Matti.
Return to Helsinki
After almost three memorable years i Norway, Matti returned to Helsinki when his former boss from Katajanokka Casino asked him to join the team that would be opening Restaurant Fishmarket. Fishmarket was important for Matti, since that's where he met his future wife Maija. From this world of fish and shellfish Matti finally decided to take the leap to the topnotch kitchen team at restaurant G.W.Sundmans, which was already an institution. At that time Matti was also practicing for the Chef of the year competition, and got invaluable help from several veterans of that competition who were now working at Sundmans.
After winning the competition, Matti, like many other promising young chefs, went to work at Chez Dominique. The restaurant was still located at its original address on Ludviginkatu, and intimately small in size. During his time at "Domppa", Matti learned quite a few immortal expressions and many kitchen tricks.
From Chez Dominique to Fishmarket and finally Sundmans
After returning to Fishmarket, Matti stepped into the shoes of chef de cuisine for the first time. This was a big career step on the path to more responsibility. After a time of working with fish he needed a change in his life and decided to go to Germany, the land of sauerkraut and bratwurst, in hopes of growing professionally.
With Sauli Kemppainen in Berlin Matti witnessed all manner of pros in the kitchen as well as in big city nightlife. In less than a year, he and Sauli earned the Michelin star that was their goal for restaurant Die Quadriga. Matti ended up working in Berlin for almost two years, and would have stayed longer had he not won the honor of representing Finland in the Bocuse d’Or competition – his big dream for years.
Competing in such company demands professional training and commitment. After the biggest, most challenging project of his career, Matti returned to work in Helsinki. He had a good Bocuse d'Or ranking in his pocket, although it didn't satisfy a stubborn, competitive chef.
Matti proudly began working as chef de cuisine at G.W.Sundmans. Most recently he was ranked the world's fourth best chef in the Bocuse d'Or competition in 2015.
As a consultant Matti has planned Baltic maritime taste treats for Silja Line cruise ships as well as menus for Finnair business class flights worldwide.