Petri Hotti has started working as the main chef at the Embassy of Finland on April 1st 2013. Hotti has studied in Finland at Helsinki Culinary School Perho and at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. After graduation he has worked in numerous restaurants in Helsinki including renowned Bläk, Carelia and Maxhill. Hotti and his wife have been thinking about moving abroad for few years and when the position in Washington D.C. became vacant Hotti did not hesitate to apply it.
In his current job Petri Hotti has a great opportunity to promote Finnish culinary culture in the capital of the United States. Hotti has specialized in organic food and he is passionate about the importance of natural ingredients. According to Hotti fresh ingredients are the basis of all cooking and there is no reason to spoil food with too many spices. Everyday food can be turned into fine dining by processing the ingredients further and this is the point where chef’s true talent is measured.
Hotti feels that there is more selection of organic food in the United States and the food is also cheaper here than in Finland. In general the grocery shops carry same ingredients as in Finland but there are also some minor differences. For example in the United States people use only prime cuts of meat and the shops do not sell any internal organs of the animals as food. On the other hand the fish selection is wider than in Finland and one can buy basically any fish wholesale. There are some Finnish ingredients that Hotti admits he misses – in the USA it is difficult to find good rye flour as well as the same berries and mushrooms as in Finland.
In 2008 Hotti published a book Finland & Organic: A Gourmet Road Trip together with Olli Takanen. In the process of writing the book Hotti and Takanen visited several organic farms in Finland in order to explain the basic concept of organic food and share their best recipes with the readers. The book was sold out shortly after publishing and in recent years organic food and local producers have become hugely popular in Finland.
Hotti’s own enthusiasm about organic food carries on also in Washington D.C. and the White House is no longer the only house in Washington with its own vegetable garden. Hotti and Embassy Gardener Hannu Häkkinen have started to grow their own sage, basil, thyme and parsley next to the Ambassador’s residence. The Embassy of Finland is known to be the first embassy in the United States to be awarded the U.S. Green Building Council's prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate for green buildings and from now on Hotti’s organic and fresh approach to cooking will be an essential part of the embassy’s LEED process.
Hotti says he is very excited about the culinary culture of D.C. but so far he has been busy working and has not had so much time for exploring the city. Hotti’s first impressions are that there is at least plenty of fast food restaurants in the city and some of them are very good ones.