Globally local

The travel and event management specialist Go Arctic is the latest business to join the Arctic Food Lab network. Established in 2008, the enterprise is owned by Sipe Åqvist together with Kirsi Eskola. Åqvist says that sourcing locally has always been at the heart of the company’s ethos.

“Depending on the season, we employ 7–27 people and a host of freelancers in event management and travel services,” says Åqvist.


Pancake and artisan bread the Arctic way

The company offers a wide range of event management and travel services and, in addition, it also runs a chain of cafés with branches in locations where they will best serve local and global visitors. The cafés Vanha Hamina in Ii, Tunnelmatupa in Koiteli and hotel restaurant Liminganlahti have been carefully designed to create an inviting haven to spend time in and relax. The café products showcase local cuisine and produce.

“The pancake has been our flagship product since we opened our first café. It is a delicious, traditional sweet loved by both adults and children. The traditional archipelago bread is made at our kitchen to a recipe brought to us by chef and co-operation partner Mikko Törrö, and most customers agree the bread is simply divine.

Åqvist says that their own-recipe pancake is always made from locally produced flour and, for example, the Liminganlahti branch uses locally produced organic eggs. All products are made from the best ingredients available. The sandwich filling made with the archipelago bread is made of salmon and egg, and both the bread and the sandwich are highly popular.

In the Arctic Food Lab products, special attention is paid to the ingredients. In fact, one of company’s conference packages is built around Arctic Food Lab products with all catering throughout the day based on Arctic Food Lab products. Åqvist does not find focusing on local food too much of a challenge. Certainly, sourcing locally takes more time and effort, but is well worth the trouble.

“The new conference package has been enthusiastically received by our customers. It is important for us to be able to order certain products directly from the producers. This is something we are working hard on to improve even further.


The local approach is part of all Go Arctic operations


It is a central value for the company and, according to Åqvist, their aim is to use locally sourced products and to partner with local partners as much as possible. Go Arctic also serves as an agent for Oulu region travel guides and tours, so the local history is indeed at the centre of the company’s operations. One of our most popular event management products launched by Go Arctic is its local version of the amazing race concept.

“The event is based on the Oulu dialect and local curiosities and phenomena, such as the Bobby at the Market Place statue, air guitar playing and local chocolate. Covering the areas Myllytulli, city centre and Ainolanpuisto, the race has proved a hit product for corporate away days. We are producing a new edition of the race for next autumn, which will include Pikisaari and even Hietasaari.

In the kitchen, creating the menu is team work, involving a large number of people in addition to the kitchen personnel.

“The same goes for our event organisation,” says Åqvist. “We are happy to listen to the ideas of the entire team in our planning.”

Go Arctic’s offers event organisation, away-day and conference services to b2b customers. The company’s other key business areas are the café-restaurants, guided tours and entertainment agency as well as travel services for international tour organisers.

“Conference services form a large part of our service portfolio. Our company has two divisions: Go Arctic Events and Go Arctic Travels. Our service offering is quite extensive but all of the elements support each other. Our personnel are extremely qualified – it is a pure joy to work with such professionals.

AFL was the answer

Åqvist says that communicating about the sustainability of their products was a challenge. Therefore, Arctic Food Lab could not have appeared at a more opportune time. The Go Arctic team hope the brand succeeds and that the network is joined by as many members as possible.

“AFL is a brand that immediately tells the customer that your services and products are local, fair and sustainable, and right there at the café where the customer makes their choices.”

The Arctic Food Lab offers northern Finnish flavours and experiences. It is a brand dedicated to the food of northern Finland showcasing products and ingredients grown and produced in the region. The Arctic Food Lab programme shows the richness of northern Finnish cuisine and the vast potential of the pure, Arctic ingredients through local high-quality, uncompromising expertise. Look for the Arctic Food Lab label on packaging and products in restaurants and shops. The Arctic Food Lab label helps visitors from near and far recognise and learn about locally produced food and the local food culture. The Arctic Food Lab is part of the Oulu 2026 European Capital of Culture programme.

Contact us:


To join the network, contact:

Niina Keränen
Project Manager
+358 400 163 987

For other inquiries about AFL, contact:

Heli Metsäpelto
Head of Community

Local food is a way of life

Ostoferia ravintoloitsija Jussi Kurkela

Jussi Kurkela, the owner of restaurant Ostoferia, explaining how everything in the restaurant is done from scratch, including spices and soy sauce.

Local food is a way of life

Jenny and Jussi Kurkela, the owners of Ostoferia, make everything from scratch in the restaurant kitchen. If there is something they don’t know how to do, they will learn. The atmosphere in the recently opened Winebar Kurkela in Pikisaari’s Vanha Villatehdas is warm and inviting. The Kurkelas came across the space by accident, and they could not resist the location in Pikisaari, surrounded by culture and the beautiful maritime landscape.

“We’re aware of the richness of local ingredients. We’re literally surrounded by water and wild nature, and Lapland is right there on our doorstep. We prepare everything from scratch, even spices and soy sauce.
The Kurkelas admit that such a devoted approach to their art of cooking is a challenge in terms of supply and margins, but worth the trouble. They strongly feel that being able to serve food, knowing that that every morsel on each plate comes from a known location nearby, is worth the extra work.

“The volumes are so small that we really have to be careful how we use the ingredients. We’re already planning menus until the end of this year and thinking what we can do with the ingredients we have or that are still waiting to be grown.

Global take on Oulu cuisine

The Ostoferia menu does not feature local home cooking as such, but the same flavours and ingredients are served with a modern twist. Many of the customers come to the restaurant to enjoy the carefully crafted menu made with high-quality ingredients.

“Some have said it’s like eating their grandmother’s food. Though we’re not serving modernised versions of traditional home cooking, we do use locally produced, pure ingredients. Our dishes reflect our vision of good cooking.
Ostoferia also supports local breweries. Some of the wines are European “old world” wines, but we also serve Finnish berry wines.

“We make our non-alcoholic beverages ourselves here at the restaurant and combine them with the menu. There has to be a lot of choice, just like with food.”

Avid foragers, the Kurkelas pick their own mushrooms. There is no food wasted because all the ingredients sourced are also used.
“We come up with new ideas every year and think of new ways of using up ingredients. We just figured out a great way of using mushrooms in a stock.”

Vanha Villatehdas

Winebar Kurkela is located in Pikisaari

The Kurkelas have attracted plenty of attention among customers and colleagues with their approach. It is probably the only restaurant in Finland with such absolute dedication to locally produced food. The couple points out that a restaurant that favours locally produced food is not the same as a restaurant that serves nothing but locally produced food. In this restaurant, the development and innovation work behind the scenes never stops. Expanding the business is a challenge precisely because of the uncertainty of supply and sourcing. In fact, the couple are calling for new local producers in the area. For locally produced food to become the norm, there should be many times more producers than there currently are.

“Some don’t even think of mentioning a product they grow in tiny amounts. It might then come up accidentally in some other conversation that they have exactly what we want and have been hunting high and low for a long time. It’s important that the quality of the ingredients remains consistent. For example, we refuse to use farmed fish, and happily we have a supplier who can provide us with the type of fish we want.

Earlier, the couple spent a lot of time finding and foraging for ingredients, but having now found trusted partners, they can concentrate on the art of cuisine itself. Jussi Kurkela says that they are not the only ones interested in a similar restaurant philosophy and he hopes that it will be easier in the future for other similar restaurants to open.

“A proper network of local food restaurants and producers would make everyone’s lives easier.”

Ostoferia ravintoloitsija Jenny Kurkela kaataa vettä lasiin

Jenny Kurkela says that many of the customers come to the restaurant specifically for its carefully crafted menu made with high-quality ingredients.
Looking for local producers

Proud of local offering

The Kurkelas feel that the local customers appreciate their efforts. The menu is deliberately adventurous and they are determined to continue in the same style in the future. The couple are visibly proud of their work and ingredients. They are excited about the Oulu2026 project and hope that it will bring a lot more tourists to Oulu.

“We should all be proud of what Oulu has to offer.

The Arctic Food Lab is part of the Oulu 2026 Capital of Culture programme. The Artic Food Lab is a brand promoting local products and ingredients. The trademark can be applied for products and ingredients from Oulu and the Oulu2026 region.One of the goals for the Artic Food Lab label is to help international visitors and guests to recognise and learn about locally produced food and the local food culture.

Tutustu: Arctic Food Lab – Oulu2026

Restaurant Ostroferia 

Photos: Ostoferia