Restaurant Tapio

Kuusamo’s Restaurant Tapio rises to Michelin level

Restaurateur couple’s years of hard work rewarded with the industry's prestigious star

Published 27.5.2024

The world’s most renowned restaurant recognition system, The Michelin Guide, announced the restaurants included in its Nordic Guide on Monday, May 27, 2024, in Helsinki. New to the annually published list is Restaurant Tapio, which opened last December in Ruka, Kuusamo. It received the prestigious Michelin star. Tapio is the northernmost restaurant in the guide, and in the world, to be awarded a star this year.

Johanna Mourujärvi, 33, and Connor Laybourne, 32, opened their restaurant in the heart of Ruka Village on December 23, 2023, after operating for a short time in the center of Kuusamo. The restaurant was originally established in 2018 in Posio, where Johanna is from.

The Finnish-English couple runs their tiny restaurant with a two-person team. Johanna manages the 18-seat dining room, and Connor handles the kitchen. Everything is done by themselves, including cleaning and dishwashing – they have no additional help.

– We manage because we are ambitious, long-term professionals, we both have a high work ethic, and we are ready to work longer hours than usual. We strive to be better at our work tomorrow than we are today, Connor says.

The unique ingredients of the north as the key to success

Named after the king of the forest, Restaurant Tapio offers customers a seasonally changing menu featuring northern, unique ingredients. The drink menu consists of natural wines and Finnish beers.

– Our style is modern Nordic fine dining. We focus on high-quality local ingredients and aim to keep them as simple yet sophisticated as possible by using both modern and traditional techniques, Connor describes.

Quality and freshness are guaranteed by ingredients sourced from Mourujärvi's family farm, from berries and vegetables to reindeer and wild products.

Working as a couple

Johanna and Connor fell in love while working in a hotel kitchen in the United Kingdom. They gained experience and skills in star-rated restaurants in both England and France. In 2018, the duo decided to move to Finland, to Johanna's hometown, at least for a trial. When Connor couldn't find a meaningful job, they founded Tapio.

– It's not always easy to balance work and private life. We have learned to resolve disagreements constructively through discussion. When the restaurant doors open, professionals step into their roles, and their collaboration works seamlessly, Connor says.

Years of hard work rewarded with Michelin recognition

The foundation of Michelin stars includes the quality of ingredients, the preparation and harmony of flavors, the personality of the food, value for money, and consistency. The coveted star means a lot to restaurateurs. Achieving and maintaining a high level of quality requires professionalism, unwavering focus, and the ability to handle pressure.

– I am extremely happy, satisfied, and grateful. Also relieved, as I have worked as a chef since I was 15 years old and have dreamed of this moment ever since. This recognition encourages us to create even more amazing culinary experiences inspired by the ingredients of the northern nature. I hope the star attracts both new and returning customers on a culinary journey to our restaurant, Connor Laybourne summarizes.

Ruka-Kuusamo area celebrates Restaurant Tapio's success

Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Association rejoices in the success of their newest member. Tourism in the area has been growing since 2017. The growth has brought new target groups to the area, and as a result, the restaurant offerings have evolved to meet the needs of the modern consumer. Fine dining experiences utilizing northern ingredients are a fantastic addition to the area's diverse tourism offerings.

– We warmly congratulate Restaurant Tapio on their Michelin star and welcome food travelers to experience the culinary art of the world’s northernmost Michelin-starred restaurant, says Marko Säkkinen, Chairman of Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Association.

More details: 
Johanna Mourujärvi and Connor Laybourne, +358 44 243 1631,,
Marko Säkkinen, Chairman of Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Association, +358 50 0466173,

Restaurant TapioRestaurant Tapio

The annually published The Michelin Guide Nordic Countries includes Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. It features high-quality restaurants noted by the Michelin organization and Michelin-starred restaurants in the Nordic countries.

Known for its tires, Michelin published its first Guide Michelin in 1900, which was distributed for free to all those who bought a car. Restaurant star ratings were introduced in the guide in the 1930s.

Restaurant Tapio, Mark Ellis Photography
Restaurant Tapio, Mark Ellis Photography
Restaurant Tapio, Mark Ellis Photography