Participating for the first time, Fazer Culinary Team Finland won gold in the Catering series of the Erfurt Culinary Olympics. A journey of one a half years culminated today on 26 October at the ending ceremony of the Olympics, as Fazer Culinary Team Finland was awarded the highest score and first place.

The Fazer Culinary Team had historic success in the 2016 Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany, held between 21 and 26 October, bringing home gold for Finland in the catering series. The Culinary Olympics are held every four years and they are the largest culinary competition in the world. The first Olympics were held in the year 1900, and this year 20 teams from around the world participated in the catering series. The Fazer Culinary Team is the first Finnish team to participate in the catering series in the history of the competition.

Having trained for a year and a half, the team's ultimate challenge was serving lunch to 150 people with ingredients and dishes that reflected the team's national cuisine.

The Fazer Culinary Team introduced Finnish roots to the menu with a creamy parsnip stew served with freshly cured venison, as well as a dessert with sea buckthorn, apple and oats. The lunch comprised a soup, two main dishes, one vegetable dish, side dishes, a salad buffet and a dessert. Five hours were allowed for preparing the lunch, and each portion could cost no more than five euros.


Praised by the jury 

"The jury regarded our professional conduct, cleanliness and good preparations for first-timers as our most positive aspects. The pressure of the competition did show, but our performance was steady and confident. We had to finish in a bit of a hurry, but we kept a lid on things," says Mika Pesonen, team captain.

"Our team spirit has been very good, and everyone has been working together, even when the trip has been taxing on our sleep schedules. The atmosphere at the Olympics has been wonderful, and seeing so many different nationalities share the same space and passion has been exquisite," adds Pesonen.

The members of the Fazer Culinary Team are the top chefs of Fazer Food Services and they work in Fazer’s contract restaurants in Finland’s companies and organisations. The team has been training for this competition for the last one and a half years. There are eight chefs in the Fazer Culinary Team, but in the official team in the competition there are four: Team captain Mika Pesonen, Juha Aalto, Reko Riikonen and Sami Toropainen. Also in the team are Lilli Jyräs, Teemu Hokkanen, Tapio Bergström andMatti Tikka. The team is managed by Karri Käki.


Fazer Food Services seeks to improve respect for the catering industry

"When we decided to participate in the next Culinary Olympics four years ago, we agreed to do it properly. We collaborated with the national Finnish chef team and went to see, for example, the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg. We also had the opportunity of sparring with experienced competitor chefs from abroad," says Marianne Nordblom, director of gastronomy and product development at Fazer Food Services.

"Fazer Food Services took the competition seriously, and it bore fruit. The participation of Fazer Culinary Team and our success in the competition are historic and significant for the whole industry – catering is constantly evolving, and we wish to be pioneers who offer front row seats for the talent of tomorrow."

The Fazer Culinary Team Sweden, also having collaborated with the Finnish national team and a gold award winner four years back, and the Finnish national team, Culinary Team Finland, won gold in their respective series.

Watch a video of the team and the competition:


Further information:

Director, Gastronomy and product development, Marianne Nordblom, Fazer Food Services Finland, +358 400 605 778

Captain of Fazer Culinary Team Finland, chef Mika Pesonen, Fazer Food Services Finland, +358 406 530 363
Communications Director Satu Ikäheimo, Fazer Group, tel. +358 503 804 996

Fazer’s media phone line is open Mon–Fri from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., tel. +358 40 6682 998


Print-ready pictures: (Media_Press – Fazer Culinary Team)

Communications coordinator Minnamari Mattila, tel. +358 46 851 3552


Team member bios:


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