A look at Harri Heikkinen opens our new series of profiles, which we hope will offer an introduction to those Chemigate employees our customers may not have met yet. In these lighthearted articles with lively pictures, we will learn more about the hobbies that the person featured in each profile enjoys the most. You never know – some readers might find a new favorite pastime. At the end of each article, its subject gives a tip about a colleague who has an interesting hobby.
Harri is responsible for Chemigate’s production operations, with three units’ operations managers reporting directly to him. He is also responsible for making sure that Chemigate remains able to display a quality management certificate above its copying machine. Harri’s passion is good food and cooking. Let’s see whether there’s…
It’s a Friday afternoon when we walk into the Heikkinens’ kitchen. As he piles up all sorts of ingredients on the kitchen counter, Harri explains that he is the chef de cuisine in this household whenever he has time for cooking. He expands, “Cooking when you aren’t in a hurry is inspiring. Of course, there are times when you have to settle for making something quick and easy, but that’s something that the entire family takes part in.”
Interest in the culinary arts was passed on to Harri by his mother, who knew all the best recipes for traditional Finnish dishes. His father participated by bringing home wild game from hunting trips in the vast forests of Kajaani, in eastern Finland. As do many others with a keen interest in something, Harri seeks new challenges by extending his repertoire. “At the moment, I’m into Asian seafood dishes,” he explains.
It is with seafood that Harri has decided to kick off today’s feast. He begins by spreading chili-and-ginger paste on blue mussels, before sticking them in the oven, where they remain for only a little while. While the mussels are cooking, Harri fries some bacon in a pan, which is followed by scampi and scallops. These contribute to making a beautiful salad, perfectly complemented by a sauce with horseradish and aioli. Noël en Alsace Blanc will be served to accompany this.
Taking notes would be easier if we took breaks from cooking to enjoy the food and wine, but this proves a forlorn hope. All the day’s courses are to be cooked without breaks.
Harri is cool, calm, and collected by nature, a real no-nonsense kind of guy. Efficient movements, which are so characteristic of him, come into their own here. This controlled efficiency would be familiar also to those who know Harri only from work circles. His effortless multitasking is a result of his perfect command of the tools and utensils he uses. No time is wasted on perusing recipes either. “I haven’t used recipes for years. I form a vision in my mind of the flavors I want to create, and that’s what I then work toward,” explains Harri, while frying chanterelles for a soup.
The next course is that chanterelle-and-reindeer soup, served with warm rye-bread sandwiches. The dish will be washed down with beer. This is certainly not the first time I’ve tasted mushroom soup, and I’ve even tried my hand at making warm sandwiches, but the flavors of Harri’s creation are something else. The way they come together to create a harmonious entity is designed to make your mouth water.
While cooking for just himself doesn’t inspire Harri, he really enjoys preparing delicious food for others. He recalls, “It all got started when I was a student in Oulu. A good friend of mine turned up with some sausages and asked what we should do with them.” The word soon got around, and in no time Harri’s pizza nights were competing in popularity with the local ice-hockey team’s matches. Harri is still in touch with the friends he made while a university student, and the group gets together wherever in the world they happen to be. Friends are important to Harri.
“Can’t go wrong with cream!” our chef exclaims while pouring cream and sprinkling seasoning into the day’s main course, moose stew. A minute later, he’s cleaning the chopping board and wiping the surfaces. Now his fluid movements are accompanied by running commentary befitting a TV chef. He shares some tips and tricks of the trade related to cooking. For example, “you get crispy bacon by placing it on paper towels, which soak up the drips.” Since Harri isn’t a chatterbox by nature, it seems that the idea of our series of profiles is working. People are usually happy to talk about the things that excite them.
The sound of the Amarone bottle popping open serves as an invitation to sit down at the table, where the conversation moves on to favorite meals and eateries. “The traditional Finnish dish of fried whitebait and mashed potatoes is my specialty,” says Harri. This may sound like a contradiction, coming from a man who explained moments earlier that restaurants’ tasting menus are his favorite culinary treat. He especially recommends Restaurant Hugo, in Oulu.
The next memorable experience is offered by the parsnip purée served with the main course. A little maple syrup added by Harri gives the dish extra depth of flavor. After the moose stew and potato muffins, Harri serves a shot of Finlandia Lime vodka to aid digestion. We raise a toast to our shared view that eggplant is the most pointless vegetable.
While we savor our ice cream and chocolate sauce, we decide it’s time to discuss our next profile victim. It comes as no surprise that someone who enjoys delicious food and beverages is also a lover of music. You don’t need to be able to sing or play an instrument yourself to appreciate these skills in someone else. So, Jari Immonen, will you accept the challenge of being our next subject?
Scallops, shrimp scampi, bacon, salad, and garlic-and-chili-gratinated blue mussels Salad dressing with aioli, horseradish, and cream White wine: Noël en Alsace Blanc, from France
Chanterelle-and-reindeer soup (with cream, chanterelle-flavored cheese spread, and Koskenlaskija cheese spread) Rye bread topped with butter, brandy-and-nut butter, and mature Emmental cheese Red wine: Cantina Zaccagnini, from Italy, and/or beer
Potato muffins (made with potatoes, bacon, and cheese) Moose stew (using round steak, onion, cream, and seasoning to taste) Parsnip purée Red wine: Amarone, from Italy A shot of Finlandia Lime vodka
Ice cream, strawberries, cape gooseberries, and dark chocolate Coffee V.S.O.P. cognac
What is the best way to give a good impression of a person or, in this case, personnel? Letting them tell everyone about themselves and their interests, i.e., the things that make their hearts race. During the summer of 2019 we will begin a series of stories where the doers, the innovators, the chemists, the operators and the supers each will present themselves and their passions.
At best a company is more than the sum of its parts. And when the parts are actual human beings success requires good chemistry.