For Executive Chef Jussi Ylitalo, cooking means old-world expertise and know-how
Jussi Ylitalo, the developer of Hotel Mestar’s food philosophy, ended up in the restaurant industry at a young age, partly by chance. Now working as an Executive Chef, he still relies on his first idea in decision-making. That’s how the Masteri’s food philosophy came into being.
Ylitalo, who now works as Executive Chef at the Hotel Sveitsi, first studied furniture and house restoration. Unemployment brought on by the recession forced Ylitalo to switch from handicrafts to a restaurant.
– At first, I just wanted to be good at something. The passion for food came afterward. Working in a restaurant requires the same kind of concentration and use of the whole body as many handicraft professions. Here you work with your hands – in the same way as in painting or carpentry
Ylitalo has worked in various restaurants in Russia, Estonia, and Finland, so he has seen the industry’s changes. Now he is using his experience as an Executive Chef.
– The restaurant industry was in transition when I started. Chefs had to become multi-skilled as the kitchen staff started to dwindle. Even today, an Executive Chef must be multi-talented. Just having an interest in cooking is not enough as managing staff, different systems and analytical tasks become part of the job description. But I’m not alone – I have skilled subordinates and trusted superiors who enable me to succeed.
Hotel Mestari’s food philosophy is based on colors, flavors, and atmosphere
Ylitalo’s vision is also trusted outside the Hotel Sveisti. A so-called old hand was given the task of developing Hotel Mestari’s food philosophy. Once again, he relied on his first idea, which was born from the hotel’s observational images.
– The colors, materials, and atmosphere of the hotel immediately reminded me of South American cuisine. We haven’t seen the spiciness, colorfulness, and abundance of the food in Helsinki, even though the Latin culture offers endless possibilities. The food philosophy is a combination of flavors, colors, and aromas of different nationalities. It is easy to apply as long as you keep the core idea in mind.
It was also important to Ylitalo that the kitchen’s foundation fits the idea of mastery. South American cuisine has a long and traditional history.
– To me, mastery in cooking means something from the old world. That’s why I wanted to choose a cuisine that has deeper roots than, for example, Scandinavian or North American food culture.
Who is Jussi Ylitalo?
Executive Chef and developer of the Masteri’s food philosophy, who considers the importance of patience, intuition, and teamwork in the kitchen.
Ylitalo is inspired by
“My family is a reminder that there is some common sense in this life,” says Ylitalo with a twinkle in his eye.
“I have a broken motorcycle. It’s a good motivator to clear the calendar of free time.”
03. Kitchen channels
“I follow many professional kitchen channels on social media. Usually, the cooking is quite glamorous, but it’s still interesting to see what different techniques are used around the world.”
Mestari Stories is a place for showcasing various masters in their respective fields, for sharing opinions, and for cherishing modern craftsmanship. These masters from across Finland are driven by their unwavering vision and virtuoso talent in their craft.