SAUCE Forum—a very exciting and high-caliber three-day international food event—took place on September 17-19th in Estonia. Our Director of Business Development for EMEA, Heleri Rande (who happens to be Estonian herself) took part in all the festivities and helped to co-host two of the event’s main dinners. The forum attracted a crowd that included Michelin-starred chefs, food critics and journalists, restaurant professionals, and culinary geeks from all over the world, totaling around one thousand participants.
The first day took place on the beautiful island of Saaremaa, where four top chefs cooked alongside with local culinary school students using only ingredients found on the island. James Bond-Kennedy from Michelin-starred Relæ in Copenhagen prepared the first course from pike-perch, a local fish that the local cuisine takes great pride in. The second course was made by Estonian chef Andrey Korobyak from MØS, a Scandinavian eatery in Moscow, and centered around the local Kadaka cheese. Filip Langhoff, co-owner and head chef of the Michelin-starred ASK in Helsinki, found incredible celeriac from the forest that he paired with local venison. The evening came to a beautiful close with baked curd dessert prepared by yet another Finnish Michelin-starred chef Sasu Laukkonen, partner at Chef & Sommelier in Helsinki. All the courses were paired with carefully selected wines from Viinite and local craft beer and berry wine. Front of house service was overseen by Frank Embleton, whose sommelier stints include the likes of Clove Club in London and Fäviken in Sweden.
The second day brought the hungry folks to the capital Tallinn, namely to Telliskivi Creative City, an old factory complex that has become the heart of all things hip. Masterclasses showcasing the finest of skills were conducted by the likes of Daniel Berlin from Michelin-starred Daniel Berlin Krog in Sweden and the passionate French chef Adeline Grattard from Michelin-starred Yam’Tcha in Paris. Alongside the masterclasses, participants could wander into the Wine House to sample rare blends of grapes from Eastern Europe and peek into SAUCE Niche to discover the identity of ingredients such as capers, nuts, and cacao. The evening was full of celebration with fire as the Barbie Dudes BBQ Dinner left all the guests wanting for more. Estonian chef Riho Heinmets focused on fresh vegetables whilst Fredrik Malmstedt from Sweden surprised the folks with his delicious tellicherry sausages. An Australian miracle worker, chef Lennox Hastie from Firedoor in Sydney, prepared pike-perch a la minute, as Jaakko Sorsa from Finds in Hong Kong closed the evening with his slow-roasted Omega-3 pork neck. Service was yet again impeccably managed by Frank Embleton alongside with Semi Hakim from Istanbul’s Kök Projekt.
The third and last day was filled with keynote speeches and panel discussions, all moderated by the crowd-pleasing food journalist Mattias Kroon. Some of the highlights included Michelin-starred Clove Club’s Isaac McHale explaining the genesis of his revolutionary dishes and Charles Spence from the University of Oxford showcasing the phenomena of gastrophysics – have all senses really been fully deployed in the food industry to capture maximum value? The conference section finished with a panel debating the everlasting concern in the minds of all restaurateurs: service. The most poetic approach was definitely taken by Søren Ledet, who manages the 3-star Michelin restaurant Geranium in Copenhagen. “Understanding why your customers have come, what is the occasion – that is important. Offer them an extra glass of champagne if there is a celebration, maybe a whiskey in the end if it is a business deal. Yes, you will have to absorb the cost, but the payback will be immense. Everyone wants to feel special,” Ledet shared with the group. With these resonating words the conference came to a close, but the event was far from over. Special dinners took place at three restaurants in Tallinn where Ana Roš from Hiša Franko in Slovenia, Daniel Berlin from Michelin-starred Daniel Berlin Krog in Sweden and Isaac McHale from Michelin-starred Clove Club in London paired up with local Estonian chefs and cooked unforgettable meals that left the guests yearning for more. The epic forum ended with a big after-party that some say lasted until the wee hours of the morning.
The superb talks, dinners and tastings showcased world-class talent, thought-provoking techniques and facilitated industry mingling that all add to the knowledge base of what SAUCE Forum aims to deliver with the “Mother of SAUCE,” Pauliina Pirkola, at its helm, without whom none of this would have been possible in the tiny country of Estonia.
Photos from the forum: