Tareq Taylor’s 5 Things to Know about Estonian Food

Source: Renee Altrov, Visit Estonia

Tareq Taylor’s 5 Things to Know about Estonian Food

Tareq Taylor is a well-known TV chef who always has a smile on his face. Tareq has worked on TV shows such as Trädgårdstider (Garden Times), Go'kväll (Good Evening) and Tusen år till julafton (A Thousand Years To Christmas Eve), and Tareq Taylor's Nordic Cookery (on the Swedish channel TV4) has broadcast in more than a hundred countries. In 2017, he won Kockarnas kamp (Battle of the Chefs) on TV4; by the finals, he had won the most medals in the history of the show. He has thirty years as a cook to his credit and he currently operates the restaurant Kockeriet in Malmö.

During his Nordic food journey, the chef Tareq Taylor embarks on a culinary tour through the Nordic countries and cooks food from every country, Estonia included, in order to gather his very best taste experiences from those countries. Tareq’s recipes are known for being based on organic, locally produced ingredients, preferably directly from the nature.

Estonia is experiencing a culinary rebirth. Old traditions such as smoking and fermenting, drying and pickling are being revived by innovative cooks. Estonians are discovering their culinary past at home as well, through their own cooking. Estonia could be the hidden culinary jewel of the North – says Tareq Taylor in his series Nordic Cooking.

He visited Tallinn in October 2017 and discovered the city’s historic treasures as well as its thriving culinary culture.

In November, Taylor returned to Estonia in order to explore the countryside first before he made his way to Tallinn for a dinner visit at the home of the Liivak-Praks family with three children who love traditional Estonian food but are also open to trying new innovative dishes. The children also got to help with the cooking.

Tareq Taylor also became curious about the activity of the company Tagurpidi Lavka whose cars and employees make a 200 km and 6-hour drive on Estonia’s roads twice a week to collect all the organic produce that city dwellers have ordered via Internet from small-scale farmers and producers in the countryside. He simply wanted to find out how it all worked in practice.

The restaurant Leib Resto ja Aed works locally with locally grown organic produce from small-scale farms. In the summer, there is grilling in the garden in the courtyard but while Tareq Taylor was there, he cooked and sat inside the cosy restaurant.

When the weather allows, the guests crowd in the outdoor seating area and on the lawn with their glasses of sparkling rhubarb wine. The restaurant Leib Resto ja Aed is one of the trendiest in Tallinn.

Photo: Leib Restoran Facebook

The 5 important things to know about Estonian food are:

#1 Estonia’s food culture originates from the countries around the Baltic Sea

The Danes, the Finns, the Germans and the Russians have all contributed to the traditional cuisine – and the Swedish most of all. Have the Estonians really found a way to pair øllebrød, blood sausage, sauerkraut and Russian potato salad with pickled herring?

In Riisa Village in the Soomaa National Park, Tareq eats well-known Estonian dishes with centuries-long history, the ingredients of which the neighboring countries can recognize from their own traditional home cooking. But neither mulgipuder made with barley, potato, pork and butter, nor kama, a typical dessert made with coarsely ground cereals and fermented milk, is daily fare in our times.

#2 Meat lovers find their paradise in the Estonian cuisine

Tareq visits a ‘lifestyle restaurant’ outside Tallinn where he makes an exquisitely tasty tartar of lamb cut by himself. Meat such as pork, chicken, boar, roe deer and fowl is the basic ingredient in most of the traditional dishes.

Estonians always keep their minds open to new culinary ideas, so be prepared to expect the unexpected!

#3 Enjoy what the nature around you has to offer

At the Soomaa National Park, Tareq tries his hand on pike burgers with pickled vegetables and guelder rose fruit – berries that taste like lingonberries. One of the secrets of good Estonian food is simplicity albeit with an abundance of ideas – using everything that the surrounding land can provide.

You’ll find locally produced fresh vegetables, fruit and berries everywhere and they are frequently used in cooking.

#4 The traditional is combined with the modern at the best taverns

Tareq cooks at the restaurant Leib Resto ja Aed in Tallinn’s Old Town. Leib means ‘rye bread’ in Estonian, and the black home-baked bread has a profound significance for every Estonian. It embodies everything pure, warm, simple and honest – precisely the feeling that the creators at Leib Resto & Aed want to convey by cooking creative, seasonal dishes with great passion and simple Estonian ingredients. The guests should definitely taste the crème brûlée with roast leib and the leib ice cream!

If you enjoy hefty portions of pork and cabbage in all its forms, Kuldse Notsu Kõrts (The Golden Piglet Inn) is the place to visit. Handmade sausages, boar meat dishes, grilled piglet, sauerkraut and fried potatoes in every manner possible are served in the cosy, rustic environment. The recipes go back to the Middle Ages and the friendly serving staff wear traditional folk costumes.

See which are the 10 best restaurants in Tallinn.

#5 The food revolution lives throughout Estonia

The new generation of chefs is leading an emerging food revolution in the capital Tallinn and further across the country. The same delicious recipes and excellent ingredients that are used by the chefs at the best restaurants in Tallinn, Pärnu and Haapsalu can be enjoyed at food festivals and trade fairs held throughout the year:

You can also taste Estonia at any of the 30 best restaurants in the country.


The visit of Tareq Taylor's Nordic Cookery in the Soomaa National Park became a unique experience for the master chef and his team.

Last updated : 02.03.2022

In category: Food & Drink & Nightlife