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Kalle Tanner

“Food doesn’t have to be serious,” says block restaurant Ego’s kitchen manager Kalle Tanner. He likes honest food with some small twists that bring it character.

Kalle Tanner is a kitchen manager with obvious passion for food and the restaurant business. Over the course of a 15-year career, Tanner has learned the intricacies of fine dining, winning Chef of the Year in 2018.

Young Kalle Tanner was intrigued by restaurants, the look and feel and the sense of everyday luxury. His family liked to cook, but he found that the experience wasn’t quite the same as at a restaurant. His enthusiasm for cooking came out of the desire to find out why a home-cooked meal tastes different from restaurant food. He considered getting a degree in the restaurant industry for a few years before finally enrolling at the chef line at the Perho Culinar, Tourism & Business College.

“I thought, well, if cooking doesn’t become a profession, I’m ok with that. I can spare two years for learning to prepare basic foods. Then I really got into it, and here we are still at it, over 15 years later,” Tanner laughs.

They don’t teach you about the trends or specialties at a restaurant school but rather focus on the basics of cooking, such as chopping vegetables the right way and preparing dressings. You build your skills and your confidence on the job when you get to handle ingredients in larger volumes. Tanner speaks about how he found his style over the course of his career.

“The basics are the foundation, and once you have them figured out, you can apply them in new ways. The basics themselves aren’t going anywhere. You pick up on trends and figure out a restaurant’s style on the job. Your personal style and your conception of food – what you think it’s supposed to be – are shaped by the places you work and the people you work with. Along the way, you pick up the good stuff, what you want to do, but also what you don’t want to do.”

“I like it when there is some small detail in the food that makes you think.”

When cooking, Tanner doesn’t want to be too tied down by unnecessary rules. He doesn’t have strict views on cooking or subscribe to unwritten rules that forbid using a certain ingredient. He feels that you shouldn’t put limits to the endless possibilities of cooking and preparing food or restrain your imagination – but rather make the most of it.

“In a way, I like honesty in food. I like it when portions taste and look familiar but have some nuance. The taste of a meal should match its look and feel, but it should also stir up emotion, a sense of something extra that lifts it above the mundane. An element of surprise is always welcome in any food. It’s easy to get bored if everything is just one and the same. It’s those small nuances that make you wonder: “How did that particular flavor come about, and what was done here?”

Coming up with little twists and nuances keeps Tanner inspired and motivated. Years of experience have cultivated a high personal standard, but that doesn’t translate to unnecessary complexity.

“The goal is to plan an outcome and then figure out how to achieve it with minimal effort. Paring down unnecessary stages and ingredients often improves the end result. Cooking should not be about performance; it should be fun and relaxed. And that’s also when you get the best results.”

“The experience is even more important than the actual food.”

Tanner’s culinary identity is strongly shaped by a desire to cook the kind of food he himself would like to eat. He wants to emphasize that it’s not all about the food but about the experience as well. The restaurants he likes the most are the ones he enjoys coming back to time and again. According to Tanner, accessible every-day restaurants liven up neighborhoods and make them more attractive.

“I like variety. It’s nice when you can sit down for a lengthy supper or just pop in for a drink. The overall experience is what people are looking for. In the end, a restaurant is supposed to help you feel good and have a good time. If the food is great but the service and overall atmosphere are off, the experience can turn sour. I like places where the feel and mood are nice, where I don’t even really think about the food they served me. If you feel good at the end of the night, it’s been a successful experience.

Who is Kalle Tanner?

A kitchen manager passionate about food who feels that a successful restaurant experience is built around not just the food but also the look and feel of the place.