Finnish chef’s friendly feast

The benefits of eating together

Celebrated Finnish chef Michael Bjorklund. Credit: michaelbjorklundchef/

A renowned Finnish chef has set a great example in bringing people together and highlighted the importance of sharing a meal with someone.

In a heart-warming initiative at the Paimio sanatorium, Michael Bjorklund, a celebrated chef from Aland, decided to lend his culinary skills to a good cause.

On a recent occasion, roughly 80 delighted seniors gathered at the sanatorium for a communal dining experience orchestrated by Bjorklund.

The event was spearheaded by Irmelin Isokoski from Paimio, who has passionately advocated for the elderly to enjoy meals together, believing firmly in the power of communal dining to alleviate loneliness.

The power of shared dining

Isokoski went on to explain that after her husband’s death, the joy of meals disappeared: ‘The meal was always a fun time, we talked and chatted. Then there was no one to talk to. I was there alone and I ate the soup and… Well, that’s it.’

For a few years now, Isokoski has been encouraging the elderly to enjoy meals together. In her opinion, social interaction is the most important aspect.

Her initiative gained momentum with the support of local food entrepreneurs, and Bjorklund’s involvement brought an unprecedented level of excitement to the community.

Culinary delights and new experiments

The famous Finnish chef, Michael Bjorklund, was determined to introduce the elderly to a variety of culinary delights. He surprised them with an array of dishes, blending Korean flavours with traditional Aland delicacies, and served pancakes for dessert.

As reported by YLE, Bjorklund commented: ‘The elderly should not eat ready-made food, but food they can feel and smell. That’s what food should be. You have to dare to taste and experiment, it’s never too late to try something new,’ underscoring the importance of engaging with food on a sensory level.

Beyond the meal

The initiative doesn’t stop at just sharing meals. It aims to foster a broader culture of communal dining and wellbeing among the elderly. Isokoski has been inspired by practices in Sweden, where even the common spaces of apartment buildings are utilised for shared meals.

‘Why do we Finns just go to fry our herring in our own homes. Why not take turns visiting others?’ he pondered, advocating for a more inclusive and social approach to dining.

The Paimio initiative also envisages the introduction of a ‘kitchen friend’ activity, aiming to ensure that more people have companionship during their meals.

This story is not just about food; it’s about community, health, and making the most of life’s simple pleasures.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.