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Estonia’s innovative food scene serves up a delicious future

It’s not all IT and digital marvels – today, fusing tradition with innovation puts Estonia on the culinary map of the world.

Estonians will be the first to joke that this nation runs on potatoes, sour cream, and cool tech startups, but recent developments show that the country’s food scene is keeping up with IT when it comes to innovation.

In 2023, Estonia secured its third Michelin star and continues to expand its list of restaurants included in the world’s foremost guide to fine dining. And Estonia’s top chefs have been taking the country’s fresh, clean flavours on the road, too: This February, Team Estonia made its debut in the Culinary Olympics.

Held every four years in Germany, the IKA/Culinary Olympics brings the international culinary elite to the world’s largest and oldest culinary art exhibition where professional chefs compete in several categories.

As the Estonian team’s performance shows, the world is paying attention.


The path to Olympic glory is long – and delicious

The Olympic path begins months, even years, before the event itself. National teams tirelessly work on their menus, with the painstaking preparation culminating in several days of exquisite feasts.  Over 1,200 participants from 55 nations presented over 7,000 menus this year in Stuttgart. Competition is fierce – only 24 national teams make it into the finals. Each team starts with 100 points, with judges deducting points for mistakes. Multiple gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded in each category based on the scores.

The Culinary Team of Estonia – consisting of President of the Estonian Chefs’ Association Taigo Lepik, captain Marko Sõmer, pastry chef Merle Jakobson, Denis Golik, Maksim Ivanushkin, Kirill Beljakov, Anna Šaluhhina, Lauri Ööpik, Karl Markus Lehtoja, Koit Uustalu, and German Macharashvili – took home a bronze and silver medal from their Olympic debut.

Damir Tomicic, co-founder and CFO of Axinom, was one of the investors enjoying the excitement on the spot in Stuttgart. “I must say, it was truly a remarkable experience,” he says. “While Estonia has long been renowned for its digital solutions and innovation in the IT world, it has now demonstrated its prowess in the realm of cuisine. With a big heart and a strong motivation to succeed, the Estonian team has climbed the culinary ladder, showcasing unique flavours and innovative techniques.”

Smoked sturgeon and leek terrine, squid ink crepe with zucchini, and green pea jelly with sturgeon caviar

Tradition interwoven with modern techniques

Enhancing tradition with constant innovation is strongly in focus. As a prime example, the culinary team highlights Estonia’s love of mushrooms in their menus. An ancient favourite of foragers, mushrooms today can be cultivated at scale through technological advances for food and wellness.

“It’s been an honour to witness Estonia’s journey to the top of the culinary world and I have no doubt that this is just the beginning of even greater achievements to come,” Tomicic says. With clean food, a high percentage of organic farmland, and some of the cleanest air in the world, Estonia is in a prime position to start showing the world what flavours it can offer. Judging by the latest developments, this is indeed only the start(er).

If you want to get in on the action and make some delicious investments, read more about opportunities in the Food sector in Estonia or send us a request for e-Consulting.

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