Harri Syrjänen is patron of the Best Lunch in Finland 2022 competition

Harri Syrjänen is patron of the Best Lunch in Finland 2022 competition

For the fourth time, the restaurant serving the best lunch in Finland, will be chosen. This year, the patron of the Best Lunch in Finland 2022 competition, organized by Edenred, is chef Harri Syrjänen, who believes in the power of localism in the competition.

"What works in Kokkola, doesn't always work in Helsinki"

Harri Syrjänen hopes that people, forced to work remotely by the coronavirus, will find their way back to lunch restaurants.

It's worth considering which is the best place for you to have lunch and compare the options you have. It is important that people leave the workplace for lunch to a different environment and relax with a good meal. And once you've found your favorite restaurant, it's worth voting for it," says Syrjänen.


Having entered the restaurant business in the 1980s, Syrjänen has seen the industry change and become more international.

Finland is rarely at the forefront of trends, but we have been able to pick up from the world the things that work here. Many of the world's big cities follow trends; everyone does the same. Fortunately, Finland has a lot of options to choose from" says Syrjänen.


He is pleased with how well restaurants have recovered from the corona era. But some changes have had to be made. He says that interest towards takeaways have increased and restaurants with few customer seats have been able to get a nice boost from them.

The most successful are those who understand localism. What works in Kokkola may not work in Helsinki. And what works elsewhere in the world doesn't necessarily work here. For example, in a Finnish pizzeria, it would be stupid not to sell ham and pineapple pizza when it is one of the most popular pizzas in Finland," says Syrjänen.


Remote work lunch loses out to restaurant lunch in terms of healthiness

Syrjänen and Edenred are united by the desire to show support for the restaurant industry after difficult years. The Best Lunch in Finland competition is an uplifting way to visibly show people's appreciation for their favorite restaurants. Equally important is the importance of healthy lunches for the well-being of employees, as nutritious lunches are a tangible and recurring way to keep employees feeling well.

If you eat in a Michelin restaurant once in your life, it doesn't matter how much butter and cream is used. But when a factory worker eats five days a week in a factory canteen for 42 years, the composition of the lunch is no longer a small matter," says Syrjänen.


This autumn, many workplaces have adopted a hybrid model, with part of the week spent working from home and part working at the office.

When working remotely, ordering a proper lunch or having it delivered to your home makes sense. A home-made lunch loses out in nutritional value compared to almost every restaurant lunch. The amount of energy a lunchtime eater gets is often the same, but the differences in nutritional value are staggering. A varied lunch, for example, can have half the fibre of an inferior option. There are also big differences in vitamins," says Peter Hiltunen, CEO of Edenred Finland.


Only few big cities have previously been in the top ten

The Best Lunch in Finland competition was held for the first time in 2019, when voters chose Keravan Pihvitupa* restaurant as the winner. In 2020, Mimosan Aito* in Kouvola was crowned as the winner. Last year, voters chose JJ's BBQ* in Salo as the best lunch restaurant.

Two thirds of the restaurants in the top ten are in cities other than Finland's biggest. No restaurants from Helsinki have been in the top ten in previous years. Of cities with more than 100 000 residents, only 11 restaurants have been voted into the top ten in the last three years. The best performer is Kuopio, where Hygge BRO* has made the list three times.

Among the smaller cities, Cantina viva Zapata, a restaurant in Järvenpää, has made the top ten list three times. Two restaurants from Pori have also made to the list: Mekani by Huikoo twice and Ravintola Päre once.

In last year's competition, 1800 restaurants in 120 different locations received votes. Salo-based JJ's BBQ took the top spot before the halfway point and held on to it until the end.

The win increased awareness, and the number of customers paying with a lunch benefit increased. Remote workers found their way to us for lunch and many people came for lunch on weekends also. People realized that lunch could be more than just a sausage sauce from the buffet between 11 and 12," says Jari-Jukka Kallunki, the restaurant owner at JJ's BBQ.

Grand prize of three months' lunches

As a grand prize, all those who voted in the Best Lunch in Finland competition will be entered into a draw where the prize is three months' free lunches for two. The grand prize will be drawn three times. Other prizes are free lunches for two for a month (10 pcs) and Delicard® Unlimited gift cards (25 pcs).

The voting period for the Best Lunch in Finland competition is 1.9.-25.9.2022. In addition to the competition website, the competition will be featured on Edenred's and Harri Syrjänen's social media channels and on the restaurants' channels.


*In Finnish