04 | Mar | 14

Richard Johnson

Helsinki Agreement?

Everyone wants to be Scandinavian. Everyone. Especially those with a love of food. But it wasn’t always the case. When Noma in Copenhagen was voted Best Restaurant in the World, well, the world was a bit surprised. ‘I mean Denmark? You don’t expect that” says Noma’s head chef Rene Redzepi. “Denmark is known for design and Hans Christian Andersen and Lego — not for food.” Finland is famous for Nokia. And its annual wife carrying contest. But food? And street food at that — in a country where snow covers the ground from December to April? As laughable as street food flourishing under the rainy skies of Britain. But stranger things have happened….

The Streat Helsinki conference this month is pulling together successful street food entrepreneurs and pioneers from all over the world. How is central Stockholm preparing to accommodate 100 food trucks? How has legislation in San Francisco been altered to make street food vending easier? How has setting up shop been made free of charge in Copenhagen? Get along to Helskinki on March 21 to find out. Representing Britain is MEATliquor founder Yianni Papoutsis, and the boss of Kitchenette, London’s first kitchen incubator, Cynthia Shanmugalingam. Papoutsis is one of Britain’s leading street food pioneers, and Shanmugalingam specialises in food entrepreneurship and food economy. They will do us proud.

We spoke at last year’s Nordic Street Food. And a few key names are heading to Helsinki. Coming from Denmark are Roskilde Festival’s food strategist and all-around food culture spokesperson Mikkel Sander, and his fellow countryman Mikkel Halbye Mindegaard, who promotes street food as Project Consultant for the City of Copenhagen. Swedish experts on the menu are Project Leader Petra Dalunde from the City of Stockholm, who deals with administrative questions and permit issues, as well as owner of Nordic Street Food, Pernilla Elmquist, whose street cuisine is based on seasonal, local ingredients. Pernilla came to the 2013 British Street Food Awards as a punter. But 2014? We’ll see. Pre-registration is open now at www.streathelsinki.com, but space is limited.