Start to relax

The favourite of food and wine lovers, the restaurant Kekäle, opened its doors for the 2021-22 winter season at the end of November. A redesigned menu and new kitchen staff are ready to welcome hotel guests and restaurant customers. Kekäle offers elegant taste experiences while respecting the natural flavours of Lappish ingredients.

The flavour of fine ingredients shouldn’t be altered; but accented

The new Head Chef Tuomo Kallo from Kallo village in Kittilä explains that the new Kekäle menu is adapted to the seasons and built around authentic Lappish flavours. The emphasis is on using locally produced ingredients from Lappish farmers and producers as much as possible.

– Freshness and quality are key factors when we select our ingredients. We don’t want to cover up the original flavour of great products. The secret lies in supporting and bringing out the best in every ingredient. For example, whitefish, arctic char, vendace roe, reindeer meat, turnip, and northern berries are featured on the menu. As well as individual dishes, we have three-course and five-course tasting menus that take our customers on a sensory taste journey, Kallo explains.

– At the moment my personal menu favourites are the reindeer and the arctic char dishes. The carefully constructed wine list and inspiring surroundings complete the dining experience. Taking in the restaurant’s wonderful ambiance, the art as well as the professionalism and friendliness of our waiting staff complete the experience, the chef underscores.

Authentic flavours presented beautifully in an inspiring setting and enjoyed alongside great customer service. That sums up Kekäle well.

Well-functioning kitchen and staff that works well together

Before joining Kekäle, Kallo worked as a kitchen and restaurant manager at the Panimo Pub & A la Carte at Levi, and before that as a kitchen manager at Lapland Hotel Saaga at Ylläs.

– Nothing will get me to move away from Lapland. When my current supervisor Juha Partanen, whom I have known since my time in Ylläs, contacted me with the offer to join Kekäle, I said I needed some time to think about it. During further discussions, I discovered that our ideas fit together really well, which made the decision to stay at Levi easy. This position is a great development opportunity for me, Kallo explains.

– Kekäle is a unique restaurant in Lapland and offers an amazing setting to work in. The kitchen is spacious and functional and the charcoal grill in the centre enhances the restaurant’s atmosphere as well as brings up great flavours in the dishes we prepare. Our whole staff works well together, and this can be witnessed by our customers as great service, Kallo explains.

Tuomo Kallo preparing food
Tuomo Kallo enjoys preparing food in the spacious and functional Kekäle kitchen.

Lessons from near and far

From an early age, Kallo knew that his destiny was to become a chef. Curiosity, a passion towards cooking and the desire to learn more have driven Kallo forward on his career. He is thankful for his mentor Tuomas “Närä” Kaarna and former supervisors Juha Karjalainen, Jarno Palkki, and Jari Brandt for their input on his food journey.

In addition, Kallo wants to thank his long-time friend Marko Muttonen, who has been his guide into the world of wines, and many others with whom he has been honoured to work with.

Kallo’s life partner is also a chef, and their 2-year-old daughter is one of the first children born in Kittilä this decade. The family has three dogs, with whom the magnificent Lappish nature is endlessly explored.