Arto Uusitalo arrived in Washington D.C. in August 2018 directly from Seoul, South Korea, where he worked as a chef for the ambassador of Finland. Despite his young age, Uusitalo has a vast international career. Prior to Seoul, he worked for the ambassador of Finland in Belgium and before that for a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.
Arto Uusitalo’s roots are in Lahti, Southern Finland, which he still considers as the best city in Finland. Lahti is internationally known for its ski jumping competitions, which Uusitalo seems to be proud of.
Strong roots can also be tasted in his cooking. "I want to show all kinds of Finnish cuisines to the American guests, maybe with some European and Asian flavors. I would say it is traditional Finnish food in a little bit modern way," Uusitalo says.
In South Korea, people loved Uusitalo’s salted salmon. He believes that his signature fish is most probably going to please the American audiences too, as well as the smoked salmon. "The most difficult part about cooking Finnish cuisine abroad is to get the correct, high-quality ingredients. For example, in South Korea dill tasted nothing like the dill in Finland. Our dill is so tasty!"
One important part of the Finnish cuisine is the bread. Uusitalo is planning on baking several kinds of bread for ambassador’s guests: archipelago bread (saaristolaisleipä), rye bread, white bread, and baguette. One of his first projects in Washington D.C. was to test the local flours. Uusitalo is determined to find to correct ingredients, as he believes that his work is important for the image of our Northern country. "I want people to understand that Finnish cuisine is more than meatballs."