The wild region of Lapland, in Finland, is located so far north that it experiences nearly endless summer sunlight, which locals refer to as the “Midnight Sun.” But when summer ends, the sun soon sets just a few hours after it rises. This unique, Arctic Circle climate produces flora and fauna found in few other places. For generations, residents of Lappi, as the Finnish call the area, have spent the summer and early fall hunting, butchering, and freezing moose and reindeer, as well as collecting as many berries, herbs, and mushrooms as possible.
Lapland’s capital, Rovaniemi, has a population of around 60,000 and multiple supermarkets, which residents could visit in lieu of storing away everything they need for the winter. But with their backyards and nearby forests offering abundant, high-quality ingredients, and grocery stores lacking beloved staples such as moose tongue and charging high prices for berries, many prefer to spend their time outdoors, preparing for winter.
Hunting With Chef Kimmo Kähkönen
At 4 a.m. on a rainy weekday morning, Kimmo Kähkönen, dressed head to toe in neon-orange hunting gear, releases a GPS-equipped hunting dog into the forest. Seated beside a bonfire on the forest’s outskirts, he follows the dog’s progress through an application on his daughter’s iPad. We’re at a campsite where Kähkönen often meets other members of his hunting club to enjoy snacks—grilled sausages, homemade Finnish bread with cheese, and coffee in a kuska, a Finnish wooden cup—while the dogs track moose and bear.
This kind of cooperation is typical in Lapland. Kähkönen belongs to Lapin Keittiömestarit r.y, an organization of some 50 chefs devoted to preserving Arctic cuisine in Finland by sharing tips on hunting, gathering, and preserving food. His hunting club shares ATVs (for transporting game) and dogs, each of which is trained to hunt a specific type of prey.
While Kähkönen is executive chef at the upscale Ravintola Monte Rosa restaurant, he often takes a month off solely to hunt. Following Finnish law, he trained and passed a rigorous test before receiving a permit at the age of nine and a weapons permit at age 15. This year, the Finnish Wildlife Agency gave him a permit to hunt two adult moose, two moose calves, and a bear in September.