Seductive french elegance in Kämp
French cooking and atmosphere form a tasteful setting for the restaurant experience provided by Hotel Kämp. In addition to good food, customers have become more interested in the responsibility, origins and story of food.
text: Anna Väre photos: Mikko Mäntyniemi
La Reserve du Boucher’s Guillaume Marchal (left) and Kämp Brasserie’s Timo Ruosteoja consider a respect for ingredients the main premise for cooking food.
Hotel Kämp’s Brasserie is an experience that takes you as close to Paris as you can get in Helsinki. Food is served from morning to night in the elegant dining room under the management of Chef de Cuisine Timo Ruosteoja.
Ruosteoja has enjoyed five fine years in Kämp and is not only responsible for the Brasserie’s menus and kitchen, but also the breakfast and room service. When composing lunch and à la carte menus, Ruosteoja relies on French cuisine, which is, after all, the basis for everything. He also wishes to develop the Brasserie to make it even more French in style. This means a return to the roots while honouring the history of gastronomy.
- But nothing too heavy. We do not aim to exclusively serve only French food or products, but it is more about ideology, atmosphere, techniques and plating. The way things are done, Ruosteoja explains his thoughts.
In a leading hotel, French cuisine can also be seen as a standard that appeals to the international clientele. However, with the exception of the summer season and its tourists, most of the diners in the restaurant are locals from Helsinki.
TOMATO AND ASPARAGUS, SUMMER FAVOURITES
Especially Asian tourists always want to try out local delicacies. Ruosteoja has designed a special summer menu for them, which includes both whitefish and reindeer.
The à la carte Menu of Day served in the summer offers three different appetizers, entrées and desserts. The list includes salmon and veal, among other delicacies. Ruosteoja considers his veal tartare appetizer “probably the best dish I have ever made”, and it is also the restaurant’s most popular appetizer.
The menu will definitely also include Ruosteoja's favourite ingredients of the summer season, tomato and asparagus, in some form or another.
When meat is the star of the dish, entrecôte provides excellent value for money in a restaurant dish.
A STEAK NEVER LETS YOU DOWN
Although seasons change, one of the cornerstones of the hotel menu is a proper steak that holds its own on the menu regardless of the year and season. When it comes to steaks, Ruosteoja makes premium meat the star of the dish without gimmickry or flashy sides.
– The steak must be a decent size, because a 150-gram piece that works as an appetizer will only make you angry. Good meat does not need to be seasoned with anything but salt and pepper, and side dishes can also be kept to a minimum. But this only works if the quality of the meat is excellent.
For his meat, Ruosteoja relies on the selection of the French La Reserve du Boucher, among others. The company's meat comes from the region of Normandy to the north of Paris. The Normande cattle is a breed of dairy cattle whose meat is well-marbled and tastes rich.
– I discovered the meat of La Reserve du Boucher following a recommendation from my former boss Juuse Mikkonen when I was looking for a more characterful alternative to the tenderloin I normally use. To me, tenderloin is like Japanese cars: it works, but does not have much of a personality.
Ruosteoja ended up choosing entrecôte, which he considers the king of steak cuts. Its benefits in a restaurant also include its good price-quality ratio and the great balance of meat, fat and quality.
INGREDIENTS DESERVE RESPECT
In addition to high-quality products, Ruosteoja appreciates logistics and volume when choosing a supplier. If a specific product is added to the menu, the supplier must be able to deliver large quantities of it quickly. The selection criteria also include not flying food to the kitchen from the other side of the world.
According to Ruosteoja, customers today are more and more curious about how the food has ended up on the restaurant table.
– Previously, customers would ask especially about fish, but now our customers are also extremely interested in the origins of the meat that they eat. Many want to know where and how their meat has been raised, but also why we have chosen this particular meat for them.
Ruosteoja says that telling the story behind the food makes customers appreciate it more, but also encourages chefs to handle the ingredients with more respect.
– The consumption of meat is disapproved due to climate concerns, but at the same time, consumption is on the rise. One of the reasons for this is that people buy plastic-wrapped pieces of meat from shops without ever seeing the actual animal. I believe that this alienates them from the origins of meat and reduces respect towards ingredients. Respect should always be shown when cooking food, whether it be a steak or a carrot.
In addition to responsibility, meat-eating customers today are also extremely interested in the various cuts of meat and often want to try out more exceptional options as well.
La Reserve du Boucher – the best meat from Normandy
Chef TimoRuosteoja’s choice entrecôte comes to Hotel Kämp in the Wihuri Metro wholesale delivery, supplied by the French La Reserve du Boucher.
La Reserve du Boucher buys its meat, such as its beef and veal, directly from a French slaughterhouse. The meat is sourced from small and medium-sized cattle farms around the region of Normandy.
– The meat of Normandy is known for its premium quality. The meat is extremely well-marbled and has a very tender, soft texture. It is a deep, dark red in colour and the flavour is clean and rich. Our côte de boeuf, entrecôte and sirloin have been hung for five weeks to tenderize the meat, says Guillaume Marchal, representative of La Reserve du Boucher.
Grazing almost year-round on large hayfields, the Normande cattle is a distinct breed that is mainly raised for milk production. They are used as dairy cattle for the first five years, during which they can produce up to 7 000 litres of milk.
The milk is rich in fat and ideal for producing butter and cheese. After five years, some of the cows are chosen to be slaughtered at a weight of more than 700 kilos. The bulls on the farms grow to weigh up to 1 100 kilos.
Marchal's personal favourites in the company’s selection are the rib eye steaks and the côte de boeuf, a tomahawk-style bone-in beef rib steak. For lunch, he enjoys a nice picanha, for example.
In addition to its excellent flavour, the meat selection of La Reserve du Boucher appeals to environmentally aware restaurant guests due to the high traceability of the meat. France has adopted a national animal identification system where each animal is given a passport at birth to record its path from the breeder to the slaughterhouse.
Quality is controlled by recording the information in a national system, which also makes it possible to monitor the responsibility of cattle farms. Developed in the 1980s, the system has made it significantly easier to prevent cattle diseases and has improved animal welfare, which can naturally also be seen in the flavour and texture of the meat.
The selection of Wihuri’s Metro wholesale includes the following La Reserve du Boucher products:
2075832000007 Beef entrecôte 4 kg
2075848700007 Beef sirloin 5.5 kg
2075855400006 Beef côte de boeuf 1 kg
2075862000008 Beef brisket 2.5 kg
2075859400002 Beef tenderloin 2.5 kg
2075832100004 Beef picanha 2.25 kg
2075848500003 Beef flank steaks 1.9 g
According to Guillaume Marchal, concerns over the responsibility of meat rearing affect purchase decisions especially in the Scandinavian market.