Netflix shines a global spotlight on Turku’s food and design scene

'Restaurants on the Edge' visits southwest Finland to help a 100-year old Archipelago restaurant find new customers - and the timing of the show could help after coronavirus lockdown.

Hosts of Restaurants on the Edge arrive on Ruissalo ferry, June 2019 / Credit: Courtesy of marblemedia

Netflix is shining a global spotlight on Turku’s food and design scene, as the new season of a restaurant makeover show lands on the streaming platform.

‘Restaurants on the Edge’ brings together a chef, a restaurateur and an interior designer to revamp a business with a spectacular view, but which needs some help with style, marketing or food.

Over two seasons the Canadian presenting team have been to destinations like Hong Kong, Hawaii, Costa Rica and Malta, and can now add southwest Finland to their list of exotic locations.

And with the coronavirus restrictions for restaurants about to be eased from the beginning of June, the extra publicity comes at just the right time for Ruissalon Maininki, the restaurant of Turku Yacht Club.

A berry cocktail made for the Netflix show ‘Restaurants on the Edge’ / Credit: Ruissalon Maininki

“The show was really good for us of course, but also for Finland and especially Turku” says Turo Jokinen who owns the historic restaurant, built in 1917, with his wife Marina Björkenheim-Jokinen.

The Netflix team arrived in Turku to begin the makeover on Juhannus Eve last summer, and five days later were able to re-launch Ruissalon Maininki with live music, cocktails and food after a whirlwind production schedule of filming, painting and grilling.

“Before we watched the episode I was terrified!” says Marina.

“I was afraid they would say, like with some other restaurants, you will go bankrupt if you don’t change this or that, and the menu is crap, or they looked through reviews and found bad feedback from customers. But that’s something we didn’t have” she tells News Now Finland.

Last summer, due to production secrecy, Marina and Turo couldn’t tell anyone they’d be featured on a new Netflix show but this year they’re ready to re-open the restaurant and hope the added publicity will bring customers back.

“I think that people will be curious of course, and then I think this coronavirus crisis might also influence the way that people want to go out to restaurants and eat. This is maybe even a win-win for us” says Marina.

Hosts of Restaurants on the Edge in Turku, June 2019 / Credit: Courtesy of marblemedia

Visit Turku worked to attract the production company

Behind the scene of ‘Restaurants on the Edge’ – made for Netflix by marblemedia a Toronto production company – Visit Turku was working for months in advance to bring the programme to southwest Finland.

The episode features scenic shots of the Archipelago, of Turku and Naantali, and the surrounding countryside.

“We are happy to highlight the splendid restaurants and maritime aspect of Turku so we were glad to take this wonderful opportunity” says Visit Turku’s Lotta Bäck in a statement.

“The unique sea and archipelago views found in Turku together with the restaurant of Turku Yacht Club make an excellent shooting object” she adds.

As part of their ‘quest’ to find out more about the local food and design scene in the makeover process, designer Karin Bohn visited artisans hand-crafting fabrics and pottery; restaurateur Nick Liberato took a sauna to discuss how Ruissalon Maininki might attract a younger crowd; while chef Dennis Prescott learned about grilling wild meats and baking Archipelago bread.

“There was not that much to change on our menu. We smoke our own fish and bake the bread” says owner Turo Jokinen.

“We discussed adding more grilled items to the menu but it’s pretty hard to do, it’s not practical on a daily basis, but we can do it for larger groups” he says.

“The only thing I would have liked to see is more of the food which is at the centre of Turku when you want to buy good fresh ingredients. They spent almost a day at the Turku food market, and we didn’t see it in the final show!”

Turo says the whole television production scene was something totally new for him and he was surprised the conversations were unscripted and natural. He says the presenters were friendly and easy to get along with.

“They were filming many locations at the same time, and that is probably the reason they are three hosts because you can do three things at once” he says.

“After the first day you don’t even remember there are cameras!”

The interior of the restaurant got a design makeover for the show / Credit: Ruissalon Maininki FB