18. Apple is allergic to apples

Getting ready for tomorrows Christmas lunch. I was stationed at Turkey and Apple salad and without batting an eyelash, I of course said yes, forgetting that I have a massive apple allergy. Apart from protecting my new bubu, gloves were my bestfriends today. I love the smell of apples, but the juices that splashed to my face and eyes, had of course developed some allergic reactions. 'All in a day's work' as they say.
It is such a lame excuse for a cook, I know. But it has to be done. And so it was. :)

Powering through with all the help from my back-from-canary-holidays lunch partner. Dippis is the man! If only he will learn to calm down and relax more. He gets me into a frenzy too and I end up not enjoying my meals. But after a week with Chef Eelis, I am slowly encouraging Chef Tummy to calm the f**k down. Let's see, end of year is coming soon.

Today's menu were meatballs and pasta in tomato sauce, pizza, and Thursday pea soup. Super uh-may-zing!

Will try to get more pictures of tomorrows buffet.

17. Battle wounds!

This is one of those days when something can really just go wrong.

Karma is such a bitch! I cut myself because I stole some coriander from the catering department. haha. But you know what? Chef Eelis drove me to the clinic. For that, am grateful. I am just a mere trainee in that kitchen. There wasn't a need to give me a ride to that clinic. And yet, he was chivalrous enough to take me there. So to Chef Eelis, Kiitoksia paljon.
Luckily, I don't need any stitches. But it is still such a waste of time getting all the insurance papers done for nothing. The doctor saw me, but didn't do anything. Didn't even prescribe any medication. Just changed the dressing and sent me off my merry way. Asked me if I want a sick leave paper, I said no, and that was it! Now I am left with 4 pages of freaking forms to fill up.  Oh what joy!

 Beautiful pork bellies prepared by Chef Eelis at 4Catering Pyynikki. :)

16. SOUS Chef

For this week, my lunch partner is no other than the sous chef himself. A rare find of a gem called Eelis from the magical land of Rovaniemi. He might be related to Santa Claus, I have yet to find out.

It is such an honour to be working along side a very talented chef. And I will always treasure the experience and the knowledge he has imparted even without him trying. I am truly indebted.

For tomorrow, we are serving a special Indian lunch buffet. We are making Chicken and Lamb curry, cauliflower and potato in tamarind sauce, and lentils soup. And yes, we made it together with Chef Eelis and Michael.

With my classmate, Michael.

15. LEAF = Excellent customer service

L - Listen
E - Empathize
A - Acknowledge
F - Fix

These are the four cornerstone of an excellent customer service. I used to teach these to my trainees back in the Philippines where I managed several restaurants. These are very important skills to be equipped with especially when dealing with difficult guests/customers. Today, we faced similar situation at the restaurant and this cutie patoutie host/waitress Lissu was at the receiving end of it. Our guests aren't that difficult, but they wouldn't accept the chicken saying it was raw. I know it isn't, I cooked it! So I came over, took the plates away, said my apologies and fixed it. I put new ones in the oven, made sure the pink veins are gone and served it on their table. Said my apologies once again, thanked them for telling us the problem and a graceful exit all in my chefs uniforms glory. With subtle handling, the guests were appeased, said thank you for the good service and left with the lightest of hearts and a promise to come back.

                  The cutie Lissu

Being in the hospitality business is not for the faintest of hearts. Patience, kindness and the proverbial ways of satisfying others must be a virtue from within.  Otherwise, you shouldn't be in this career path. 

Oh well, tomorrow is another day!

Baked chicken with coriander cream sauce

14. Who needs rest?

We can all rest when we are dead!

Am sure I am not the only who have called in sick even when not. But I tell you this, being sick last week made me miss the kitchen so bad. For the first time in my working life, I actually mind being sick. Because for the first time, I really couldn't go to work because I was sick. When I was testing mobile phones, I can still do it at home even when I am sick. With my laptop, paracetamol, tissue papers and juices lying right next to me.  But now, I cannot contaminate the food I will serve. And I cannot afford to get my co-workers sick either. So I was confined at home for a week and feeling miserable that I couldn't go to work!

The consolation? I got to cater for one of my extra babies who got married over the weekend. Here's the red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting covered in sugar fondant.

13. Herbed!

There are days when everything that can go wrong, must go wrong! The word of the day is "Rectify". You just do everything you can not to let the day get you. And herbs are always a wonderful tool to rectify taste. Try it everyday. It's good for you.

 Fennel seeds                                             Parsley and Thyme

I have been making loads of pesto recently and darn, pine nuts are so freaking expensive! And today, I made roasted red bell pepper pesto. My oh my! It was delicious. It will go to my tuna pasta salad tomorrow. Goodbye, diet. :)

12. Catering for a Caterer!

As I have promised Chef Bull, I didn't tell anyone in the kitchen that my catering was actually for the staff party of 4Vuodenaikaa. And they were quite surprised to see me at the place when they arrived. Ready with their surprise snacks. Chicken Siomai with super duper hot Asian chili paste and prawn crackers.

At first, I kind of felt that I might have bitten off more than I can chew. I said yes to the catering as soon as it came out of Chef Bull's mouth. After I came home, I felt nervous. Should I have said yes to it? I will be catering for a caterer. Worst, I will be feeding a roomful of chefs! God was I scared. Yes, I am confident with the food I serve. But these are Finns! Yes, my in-laws like 'em. But these are high caliber chefs. Yeah, I went back and forth with these emotions, that in the end, I was so sure I had gone crazy!

My assistant for the day was Sugah Mama Hanna. A trainee from Tredu. I get along well with her and she was a huge help. She was also in on the secret and we have been talking about the menu for a few days before. So she has a fairly good idea what will be served and how it will be served. I am truly indebted.

Chef Bull had a few more surprises up his sleeves though. He has hired a beautiful woman to teach us how to do a fire performance with lit up batons. And after a few mishaps, and the unrelenting rain, THEY were asked to do a catwalk - on hot COALS! I say THEY, because I was too much of a coward to walk on hot coals that I refused. I even threatened that if they want to eat later, they shouldn't push the cook to walk on it. haha. Yes, I was a chicken!

But the highlight of that night for me, was the long lasting oohs and aahs from these chefs after their first bites. I was so overwhelmed that they genuinely liked the food. I even made a joke to our wonderful Herra Eero that the buffalo sauce isn't soup, as he ladled one after another onto the siopao.

Our Maitre d had some problems though with the chili. His own words: 'Omppu, what did you put in that chili? It just keeps on burning and burning!' hahaha. I warned them when they came in, that it will really give problems in the morning.

As a cherry on top, everyone was well fed and happy. So I was happy too!

11. Three weeks after


Three weeks into the professional kitchen experience and I get to do my own catering once again.

Working in my own kitchen.
Using my own equipment.
Making my own food.
Darn! How I miss it.

Today, I will be making: (for catering)
Vegetarian spring rolls
Garlicky and buttery prawns - My mommy's recipe.
Chicken Wings - breaded, fried and crisped with buffalo sauce for dipping.
Longanisa -  a Filipino chorizo
Pork Siopao Asado - Steamed buns with sweet pork fillings.
Pansit Bihon - Stir fried rice noodles.
... Cheesecake!
Vegetarian Spring rolls


I am not in any form discrediting the food we serve in the restaurant, please don't get me wrong. Being in this environment only strengthens my convictions of getting my Adobo out there. (I use capital A for my Adobo as I mean it like you would mean your mojo while pertaining to the Filipino dishes I make). And yes, I am very lucky and I feel so blessed to be a part of and in the company of this amazing chefs. So I am trying to learn as much as I can.


Pansit Bihon

Yesterday, in the midst of cutting veggies, making bechamel, and stirring the soup pot, I heard a voice. No, not that kind of voice!!! You know? Like an epiphany of sorts. That I should really forgo finding my own small place. Anyone willing to invest?

                       Garlicky Buttery Prawns

10. Why fresh always sells.

With this opportunity, I am slowly realizing why my food sells. It is always fresh. Made with the freshest ingredients. Cooked on the same day it is served. 

It is not always practical. It is tiring. But I serve with a purpose. To put smiles on the faces of the people eating my food. 

There's nothing better than hearing people say how they loved their food, to cure the aches at the end of the service.
There's nothing better than seeing all these clients leaving the restaurant happy and satisfied, to take away the muscle pains. It is all worth it. I promise...

That was my station today. With wok egg noodles. And of course, my special "jakkara". (step-up)

 I was asked by Chef Handsome to make focaccia yesterday and of course, I just had to do it at home for my number one fan. Rosemary and garlic topped with fresh tomato!

p.s. Chef Handsome said my focaccia was very good! :) Score!!!

9.Hat's off!


I am tired, but am smiling from ear to ear.
I am hungry, but I made food for a hundred people.
I couldn't feel my feet, but I could feel the love.

What we served today on the Filipino Lunch buffet is what I do, who I am, and what I live for. I am overwhelmed by the patronage of friends who took time from their busy office lives to come to 4Vuodenaikaa for an hour long lunch. Some of them even got lost but persevered to find the place. Some even had to take 2 buses just to get there. I am humbled. Your kindness leaves an everlasting sense of warmth inside of me. You have no idea how this is fueling my desire to better myself in making delicious food and introduce to you our wonderful Filipino dishes.

I do not forget! I will not forget....

.... That 4Vuodenaikaa gave me a staging place to serve you.
I will be forever grateful for this wonderful boss, for allowing this event to take place.
For giving me this opportunity to show what I can do.
And with this, comes growth and development.
For that, I thank Chef Bull.

.... That my sous chef did not disappoint.
Who was still working 'till late in the night.
Who had my back.
Who didn't make feel inferior, and allowed me to shine.
For that, I thank Chef Tummy.

.... and to the rest of the staff of 4Vuodenaikaa, who made it all possible, I am indebted. You are wonderful people and together you make one wonderful place to work!

The Veggie Springroll magic!
Thank you, Mary Jane and Luvie!
Chicken Adobo

Antti's plateful of happiness! (literally)

8. Pinoy ito!

Chef Tummy turning Pinoy for tomorrow! He was akin to learn how to make pan de sal but he couldn't make them into a smooth ball like I want. He put his hands up and asked to wrap the springrolls instead. Haha. And they weren't the same sizes. I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that today, he was learning something from me. 
I couldn't boil my adobo the way I would have wanted it but it is working out well. It looked and tasted the way I wanted it to. 
Ceviche will be phenomenal, because the salmon is so fresh and the sauce so spicy! 
My helper for the day, while prepping the ceviche.

And this?

... I had a sudden craving for pan de sal! Haha. So I am making it for tomorrows staff breakfast. 

See you tomorrow Tamperelaiset!

7. Pick-a-boss!

Well, Chef Bull isn't officially my boss. But if I am to choose a boss after Wim (my current boss), I will choose him. He took me today to buy the ingredients for Friday Filipino lunch and apparently, they are expecting 100pax for this lunch as they have been advertising it. More than twice the target for normal Friday lunch! No pressure there, boss.

Chef Tummy is more than a pretty decent chef. He is very good. So I wasn't expecting him to have a hard time with the menu that the boss is giving us. But he did. And I hope I helped him out of it by rectifying the lunch for tomorrow.

It is rather challenging and stressful in a different kind of setting. The feeling is real though! We get a list of food to make, and we have to concoct it. Make miracles, more like it. I do learn everyday. And it felt like my very first restaurant managerial job back in the Philippines. I look forward each day to coming to work.

I was the soup lady today, by the way. And it was delicious! I always make this chicken noodle soup for Ria when she is sick. Very similar to that, with garlic, onion, ginger, sesame oil and broken-down eggs, sans the noodles.

Oh yeah, these knives might just be from Ikea, but it feels like they were made for my hands.

6. Where are your eggs?

I remember going to the original owner of the Pyynikin Liha, this serious looking father figure, who is about in his 60's and asking him in my carefully thought Finnish; "Missä teidän muna on?"

The look on his face turning red, horrified to down right laughing with a snort! I was of course appalled at myself after my husband told me what it meant when I reached home. To my non-Finn friends, it meant "Where are your testicles/balls?"

Today, I was the Omelette Lady, and this was my station. Very happy looking tomatoes with mozarella and basil added later.

Just so you have an idea, this is Chef Tummy and he is that tall. My head doesn't even reach the top of that tiled wall.

And this is Chef Gorgeous tasting the salmon ceviche I made for them. 

I thank God everyday that I am in the company of these wonderful people with golden hearts and amazing cooking skills. If happiness is being with a person who loves doing the same things as you do, multiply that with 10 and that's how I feel!

5. Filipino Lunch Buffet 30.10.2015

Oct. 26, 2015

It is official. We are serving Filipino Lunch Buffet at 4Vuodenaikaa on Friday, 30th of October. It is located at Pyynikintie 25, 33230 Tampere. Bus 25 goes there from the city center. You can get off at the Trikookuja bus stop.

1. Shrimp Sinigang
2. Vegetarian springrolls
3. Salmon ceviche with salad greens
4. Chicken Adobo
5. Vegetarian stir fried - Chop Suey

'Twas a kale day for me. I have only prepared it once before, but I think it turned out quite well. Mixed in with roasted potatoes and served with 2 fish meatloaf. Chef Tummy did a good job on this. Thumbs up!

Salmon Ceviche - Kilawing Salmon

4. My balls aren't the same size....

October 24, 2015

... but neither are yours! Falafels are a cheeky treat.

It is amazing that my chefs give me free reigns. I get to make these balls on my own and they loved it.  Chef Tummy asked me if I have made falafels and I honestly said no. He told me to look for the recipe and that I will have to do it for Friday lunch. So I did. I washed, I weighed, I measured, I grind, I mixed, I balled and I deep-fried 'em balls!

I was quite happy that Chef Bull (the one who interviewed me) came to me just to say how delicious the falafels are and that he liked it very much and thanked me. Am sorry, but that just felt fantastic!

Let's see what's in store for me next week. Chef Tummy (the chef who was born a year after I started cooking) is making fish meatloaf. That ought to be good!

3. Ecstasy

October 23, 2015

Chef Tummy asked me to prepare a Filipino themed lunch buffet for next week, Friday! It is usually a slow day. But WTH? It is still going to be my kitchen for a day! I must have been doing something good to be asked on the 3rd day.

This is something I consider an ecstatic moment. They are putting their faith in me even if it is on a slow day. But, I have a plan! I am going to advertise MY day. I am going to do everything I can to ensure that the food will all be gone on MY day. As a passionate Filipino cook, I am personally invested to get MY Adobo out in the world! Even if it is only in Tampere city for now. So yes Tampere! I want you to come and spend your hard earned money on a lunch you will never forget. No, make that I NEED YOU to come and enjoy yourselves on that meal I will prepare. I am going to make sure that you will be happily fed and get your moneys worth.

Pyynikintie 25, 33230 Tampere
Puh: +358 50 400 9510

Chicken Adobo offered by Apple Cooks for a catering.

2. Chicken shouldn't have snots!

October 22, 2015

I clean my chicken well. I really do! I don't care how long it takes, I have to clean my chicken. So today, I was tasked to wash about 15 kilos of chicken. That whole thigh and leg part. With some of the lungs attached. I washed and I rubbed till the chicken lost it's slime.

From the age of nine, I was taught by my mom to clean poultry by rubbing it with rock salt to take that slimy snot like film under the skin. Make sure that the lungs left behind the rib cage is taken off by simply sliding your thumb through it. And to peel off the tough yellow skin at the heel. More like the skin covering your Achilles' tendon. These things are ruining the flavours of your wonderful chicken. Remember to run it under cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper before cooking.

So there I was, on the sink with piles of chicken, washing away, while the chefs came by one at a time checking what I'm doing. Well, it took me a good 2 hours to wash em all, cut them in two pieces and lay 'em all on trays. Yup! I used a good chunk of time. I am not going to bend my virtues on this. I want those freakin' chickens to be finger-lickin good!

Image credit:  https://hdwallpapers.cat

1. Dead Tired!

October 21, 2015
2 days in a professional kitchen, and I am dead tired!

Being a mom/cook/caterer for God knows how long, has taken a toll on my body. Not in that sense. I have forgotten how to exercise because of the need to do house chores. No, not so much in that sense either. My house is always a mess. But the need to always have something new to cook, serve and eat. And that takes a big chunk off my energy. The preparation that goes into it, the work itself and the clean up after. So going into a professional kitchen was something I should have prepared my body for. Psychologically, I cannot be more than prepared.

My first task was to chop veggies for wok. Easy. I do that all the time. Except I have to chop around 20 kilos of different vegetables. In the beginning, I was chopping really fast because it was 10am and we open at 11. Until more than halfway, when one of the chefs told me it's for tomorrow! So I slowed down. Apparently, the people in the kitchen were amazed by my chopping skills. Score!

Next, I had to make chocolate mud cake. Still easy. I can do it with my eyes closed. The catch? I have to make 6 batches in one go. You know those street construction guys with drill machines to cut the ground? That's how big the hand mixer is. I looked like a dwarf with this hand mixer on a 30liter pot! And to top it all, I had to melt the butter and chocolate on this pot on top of a portable stove on top of  the counter which is already high for me to begin with. And yes, I was on my tiptoes.

Before the day ended, I was given the task to make caesar salad dressing from scratch. Not my best suit, but I shall wing it. So I was given a container to fill and counting my eggs, I took 20. But of course, they use the whites too. And I miscalculated. So in the end, the chef had to take out about 14 beaten eggs from the mixture.
And that's just the first day!
I intend to learn as much as I can from this endeavor. So bear with me!

The gooey-absolutely-delicious choclit mud cake!


We are all born to cook! I believe that. Even those who blatantly call themselves an idiot in the kitchen, will soon have to eat. Putting together a meal should not be complicated. Neither should it be snobbish or scary. It is supposed to give nourishment and satisfaction. And we all can do it! I promise. For as long as you do not burn the house down, you are already one step ahead. :)
 A gift from Peipei.

A gift from Estela.