Anni Përakylä: “I will encourage, emphasize, remind some of the chefs that what they are doing is really great!”

Anni Përakylä will be a member of the jury for the Prix du Meilleur Commis during the Bocuse d'Or Europe. She herself holds the prize from Tallinn, we discussed her intentions as a juror.

Finnish cuisine is changing fast. Where do you see yourself in this evolution, what identity do you want to promote in your cooking for the coming years?

Fermentation, for example, is making a comeback, that’s something I’m really interested in. However, I’m still on a quest to find an original way of creating my dishes. I hope that one day, when I have fully mastered what I’m interested in, I’ll be able to bring a particular technique into the spotlight. Naturally, I’d like to work with the best producers, breeders, focusing on small businesses and local shops.

What type of cuisine are you passionate about, how do you feed your curiosity?

Of course, social media plays an important part. I can see loads of things that inspire me now or that I used to like in the past. But I’ll never give up my cookery books, especially the older ones. Those books show techniques that we still use today. Things have changed and it’s possible to cook differently, but the sound basics are found in the books. 

How did it all start for you? Where does your passion for cooking come from?

I think it dates back to secondary school. I have always enjoyed cooking and baking, at home. Eventually, I decided to study at a culinary school. I became really passionate, and I could see myself working as a chef. I soon travelled to Helsinki, and I worked in several palaces. I learned so many wonderful things, I can’t believe how much I learned! I was studying culinary arts but was also studying for my A levels at the same time. This gave me two options really. I could always change path if I ever felt discouraged by cooking. Once I had passed my certificate, it became clear to me: “this is really what I want to do”.

What type of judge for the ‘Best Commis’ will you be for the upcoming Bocuse d’Or Europe?

I will be honest and will refrain from sharing my opinion to teams who already know exactly where they’re going and who have everything under control. I prefer to encourage, emphasize, remind some of the participants that what they are doing is really great!”. Of course, I expect to be fair, that’s also something I’d like to put across when sitting on the jury. Nobody can integrate the Bocuse d’Or by simply snapping their fingers, you need to be motivated and work hard to succeed. I am convinced that the Bocuse d’Or adventure teaches you a lot about yourself, and from the best chefs in the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to learn.

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