One of Finland’s top chefs lists his five favorite meals. (And no, reindeer didn’t make the cut.)

Chef Richard McCormick
Credit: Courtesy of Richard McCormick

Chef Richard McCormick is literally the driving force behind Helsinki’s street food scene—he parks his pink food truck on the city’s streets and at festivals and events, where he serves up creative, and unexpected, fare. At a recent stop at Helsinki’s Flow Festival he served hot-smoked rainbow trout dotted with chanterelle mushrooms (a vegan version made with beets was also available); seasonal pickles in pear vinaigrette; apple salad with horseradish crème fraîche; and parsnip chips—not your standard festival food by any account.

McCormick experiments with his food-truck offerings before incorporating the dishes into one of his many cookbooks, catering jobs, or onto the menu at his ever-expanding restaurant empire, which includes two of the Finnish capital’s hottest restaurants, Sandro and the Cock.

Here the chef, world traveler, and entrepreneur shares his favorite spots to grab a bite in Helsinki (when you’re not eating at his own restaurants, of course):

Breakfast: Story

“I don’t often have time to eat breakfast, but when I do it has to be the barley porridge or smoothie bowls at Story. The porridge is cooked in an old-fashioned style in the oven, so it’s super thick and creamy and served with fresh berries.”

Lunch: Hoku

“The teriyaki salmon at Hoku comes with many components that include both raw and cooked ingredients: a fresh cabbage salad, cucumber slaw, pickles. Everything is super simple, and the different Asian flavors come together perfectly.”

Dinner: Tori

“One of the most traditional meals you can have in Finland (or Sweden) is meatballs and mashed potatoes at Tori. Comfort food that reminds me of my grandma’s cooking. You have to eat this dish with loads of lingonberry jam.”

Anytime: Puttes Bar & Pizza

Puttes has one of the best pizzas in town, plus a cool, arts-club atmosphere. All of the cheese used for the quattro formaggi pizza is made locally in Finland.”

Dessert: Cafe Kokko

“The Snickers cake at Kokko is raw, vegan, and gluten-free cake; it’s made of peanuts, banana, and lots of other good stuff. It tastes like a Snickers bar, but better. I call it ‘sin cake,’ because even though it’s made out of totally guilt-free ingredients, this cake is so good that eating it feels like a sin.”