Over to Alex for the meat of the tale:
It’s not every day that someone comes up with a brilliant fundraising idea, one that’s both fun and lucrative, and yet with Ravintolapäivä just around the corner the event struck us as the perfect opportunity. It was also a great excuse to follow our appreciation and do what we love to do – cook! Here in Finland, four times a year, Ravintolapäivä (Restaurant Day) allows anyone to make, bake or boil a selection of cuisine and then sell it to the public.
Our idea was to use the garden as our venue and to create a menu that would attract as many different palates as possible. To that end we chose two traditional Finnish soups – salmon, and mushroom – and then a more exotic lentil soup, as starters. The first main course is a rising star of Helsinki dining – pulled pork – served with coleslaw and tomato in a homemade bread bun; and secondly, a roasted red pepper, garlic mushroom, and yoghurt marinated chicken skewer served with tahini sauce. For dessert we went for a family favourite – ice-cream – all traditionally homemade. We served three flavours, vanilla, caramel kitkat, along with saffron and coconut.
To promote the event we put our listing on the official Ravintolapäivä website and then set up a Facebook page. One member of our team (who has just graduated as a chef!) previously worked in marketing and she designed a logo, and some flyers. The grass was freshly mown, the fence freshly painted, we borrowed tables and chairs and after that, we simply cooked and cooked and cooked. Ten litres of ice-cream; 40 litres of soup; two necks of pork, and 40 chicken skewers, all sat waiting for the big day, and we, with our fingers tightly crossed, wondering if anyone would show up.
At one point, on the morning of the event, we stood looking at the mountains of food and wondered ‘why on earth did we make this much food? Who exactly is going to come and eat it?’ Actually, it was a win win situation; even if no one showed up we would eat like kings for days to come, but, as it turned out, the clock struck eleven and at five past we had our first customers, then the next and the next, right up until five o’clock that afternoon.
We sold out of nearly everything. One of our team drove four times to restock, and another gamely helped with the washing-up for hours on end. And so it went. Our customers enjoyed the food, we enjoyed serving them, no one had to wait and the weather was perfectly warm. The garden was transformed into a heartfelt space of appreciation for the senses, and we couldn’t have been happier. All in all, a thundering success, we raised 700€ before costs!