Vuoden kokki 2023 – Chef of the Year Semifinalist Sishir Bhattarai

Sishir Bhattarai studied cooking in Vamia from 2018 to 2021. Now he is getting ready to compete in Vuoden kokki -competition. It was his first year applying to the competition and he got chosen to the top 12. The semifinalist of this year will compete in their next round in Turku on the 24th of April.

I had made my intentions of taking part in this competition already when I was doing my work practice from the school in the restaurant Hejm. I thought that I will develop my skills till 2023 and give it a shot . I tried practicing a couple of times to create a dish last year as well but didn’t apply. This year I knew more about flavors and texture and overall combination so I made it through.

From Nepal to Vaasa

Sishir´s cooking interest comes from home, and he used to help his mother to cook for the family at home in Nepal since he was a teenager.

When Sishir was living and working as a cook in Nepal, his brother lived in Helsinki. He had a friend who had mentioned about a possibility to study as a cook in Vamia, so Sishir ended up in Vaasa and Vamia to study as a cook.

How was it to study in Vamia?

It was fruitful. On top of that I was interested in cooking, and I wanted to get some theoretical knowledge as well.

After graduation he started working as an extra chef in restaurant Hejm and has been working there permanently for two years. Now he is working at restaurant Fröj.

Practicing for the competition is tough

Sishir started to practice for the competition in the middle of February.

It’s a pretty tough competition and I’ve been practicing a lot. I’ve done my notes about the dish on paper in my free time and practiced before I start my shift at work. There are long days, seven days a week and no days off. Also, it takes a lot of research about the flavors.

Each year the semifinalists have different tasks with different items. This year it was seafood, scallops as a main course and opening oysters. It also included many other mystery tasks. Semifinalists need to use their own imagination to create a dish and figure out the recipe themselves, where flavors and the components should work well together. Everything should be perfect flavor-, taste-, texture- and lookswise.

I don’t have a huge experience from working background or level of knowledge yet. Luckily, I have got a nice head chef here in Fröj. I’ve learned many things from him. I have worked with him for three years now.

Source of inspiration

The inspiration in the cooking field for Sishir is Nepalese and Scandinavian fusion. He uses different kinds of spices along with his own cooking style.

For the competition I made the protein in two different ways where the main ingredient was pork. The first one was kind of Scandinavian and for the second I made dumpling with Nepalese spices. The task should be out-of-the-box and no one else thought of it.

Sishir has plans to have his own restaurant one day but right now he is eager to gain more knowledge and technique. He would also like to work in some other Scandinavian country like Denmark and Norway as well.

Would you recommend the cooking program in Vamia?

Yeah, I would recommend it. If you like cooking or want to be a good chef, there are good teachers in Vamia. You can also develop your language skills besides cooking. I learned a little bit of Swedish and Finnish. If you like something, you go for it. Nothing is impossible if you have consistency and self-discipline. Also, I remember chef Matias Åhman once said: If you snooze, you lose. That’s exactly how it is.

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