Film festival nearest thing to Michelin stars so far in Estonia

Imre Sooäär.
Imre Sooäär. Source: ERR

Friday sees the inaugural Estonian film festival of food, with the opening movie, ''Michelin Stars: Tales from the Kitchen'' playing at Sõpruse Cinema in Tallinn's old town.

Gourmet and former MP Imre Sooäär appeared on ETV daytime magazine show Ringvaade to talk about the movie, and the lack of Michelin starred restaurants in Estonia.

Mr Sooäär said that he had been to many Michelin-starred eateries, and that for some people, racking up meals at any and every such establishment is a lifestyle, and not just about eating, but the whole experience.

"You go there to learn and enjoy it and come back with it," he said.

The business is so serious, he said, that restauranteurs have committed suicide on the issue of losing, or not being awarded, the coveted seal of approval.

However, this is not a phenomenon likely to affect Estonia's food scene any time soon. The nearest Michelin-starred restaurant is in Copenhagen, Mr Sooäär said.

''The head chef of that restaurant [the two-starred Noma], René Redzepi, is a trailblazer in putting Nordic cuisine on the world map,'' said Mr Sooäär, noting that the waiting list for a table can be as long as six months, with dinner for one costing around €250-€300, excluding wines.

The small size of the Estonian market is the main factor behind its lack of Michelin-starred restaurants, Mr Sooäär said.

According to the Flavours of Estonia restaurant guide, the top dining venues in the country at present include NOA Chef's Hall in the Pirita district of Tallinn, Alexander, at the Pädaste Manor on the island of Muhu, and Hõlm, in Tartu.

The film festival of food runs until 14 April. More information is at the Sõpruse cinema site; the original interview is here (both links in Estonian). 

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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