Terävä’s cooking philosophy is centered on the seasons and the freshness of seasonal ingredients. Spring, summer, fall and winter all offer unique flavors and specialties. A good chef has to know the precise moment when each ingredient is available and at its best. According to Terävä, the key is natural surroundings – what you see, hear, smell and feel around you. The objective is food, which is in line with the season and the surroundings.
Springtime’s food is fragile and soft, a mirror of harmony and balance, peace and clarity. Typically only half the butter and cream in winter dishes is used, and fresh carrots, onions and leeks dance on your plate.
Summer pushes away the springtime’s harmony, since summer meals are all about brave combinations of strong flavors with less sauce. “Summer is a relaxed season and therefore, also the food should be easy-going and fast to prepare,” Terävä says with new potatoes, delicious strawberries and chanterelles on his mind. “Chanterelle is the most beautiful and the most variable mushroom of all.”
“Fall is an incredible season. Then the Finnish nature is full of everything: fish, game, mushrooms, berries…you name it,” Terävä says. There is a vast range of strong tastes from which to choose, and the art lies in balancing these with appropriate sauces and side dishes.
The abundant snow covering in winter leaves Finnish chefs with fewer ingredients. Tourists who visit Finland in winter often leave with a much narrower picture of Finnish cuisine. “Winters are our most international seasons, as then we eat the same food as people in France or in the Caribbean,” Terävä says. Winter food is usually warm and heavy with its stews and soups, prepared with a lot of cream and butter.
Simple? Yes indeed says Terävä. He encourages us all to be brave and creative, and to buy from small producers in order to get unique, clean ingredients to cook with. “The ingredients themselves are the kings, you don’t need to know too many tricks to get along with them,” Terävä says.