Think of a restaurant. A restaurant out of the ordinary. A restaurant where frog legs are served with French cançons or dessert is hauled from a window for you on the street. A restaurant barbequing 137 kilos of meat, just for the fun of it. Or a restaurant where kids are being chefs cooking their own meal and eating it like they would – with fingers. Four times a year, there is a very special day. The Restaurant Day, when all of your and hundreds of others restaurant dreams, and sometimes a bit more, turns true for real.

The idea is simple, really. On a Restaurant Day anyone can set up a restaurant, anywhere, for a day. This means ordinary people get to play chefs and sommeliers for a change resulting a whole lot of fun and food plus wonderful meetings and memories, even odd ones.

Restaurant Day sprouted from Helsinki, the capital of Finland, for about two years ago now growing mainly through social media to a global movement for ‘food for all’. Restaurant Day is, indeed, extra ordinary as it still after two years of popping up to the streets and opening homes or backyards grows and gains momentum from up north in Iceland to down south of Colombia and everywhere in between. It is a festival for food from Ivalo, Singapore, Jerusalem, Poznan, San Diego, Yekaterinburg, Lisbon and Victoria all the way to Tokyo.

This time, a Chili Dream Come True pops in Israel, Finnish buns are baked by the Pacific Ocean (Pulla), homemade banana pancakes are served in Mexico (Mi Casa), fresh goose eggs in Canada (Goose Egg) and some get to eat outdoors under the sky in Japan (Unter Dem Himmel). Restaurant Day has, in fact, been to every other continent except Antarctica. Frozen yoghurt bar – anyone?

What started as a fun-and-food-for-family-and-friends-kind-of-thing, is now a global movement making and shaking a difference for the food culture of tomorrow. Nominated as the Cultural Act of the year 2011 in Helsinki, Finland, and the Food Event of the year of 2013 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Restaurant Day is getting bigger and tastier than ever.

Four Saturdays a year (in February, May, August and November) are devoted for the taste of joy and play, creativity, spontaneity and community. On Saturday, May 18th 2013, a total of 1701 one day restaurants open up in 30 countries. 454 of the restaurants open in Helsinki, and yes, it will still be for the fun and food of it.
Join the 24-hour food feist wherever you are! Hungry, if I may say.

The article was published for Visit Finland in May 2013


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