Sales packages of the Artisan seitan

Vegan-curious seitanists

What exactly is Artisan seitan? Do you dare to eat it, or is it perhaps some cult? Virna Food’s Artisan Seitanists and owners, Virve Räisänen and Juha Teivonen, explain: “We want to make tasty, sustainable food. Vegetarian food is becoming more commonplace, and many options are available.

For example, mothers often ask how to feed their kids who have become vegetarians. Seitan is also an excellent product for athletes, as it is high in protein, low in fat, and good in fiber”.

Virna Food produces artisan seitan in their Kerava factory. Seitan is a vegetable protein made from wheat originating in Asia. It can be used like meat in many different recipes. Virna Food has developed a method which makes the artisan seitan exceptionally soft and succulent. It is an additive-free and pre-flavored fresh product. 

“Seitan is still a bit strange to broad consumer groups. We are doing pioneering work in professional kitchens. In the past, the seitan was presented as fast food, such as a substitute for kebab meat. Consumers and decision-makers are amazed at how versatile ingredient seitan is. Our product is packed as wafers, so the customer can decide whether to fry them, eat them cold or warm, cut them into cubes, or crumble the seitan into soup. It has been wonderful to learn that some customers have also started to use our product in baking”, says Virve. For example, the food service of the city of Kerava has developed various recipes from Virna’s products, like casseroles.

Team of Virna Food holding signs with text "Made in Kerava" and "I'm veggie-curious"
The team of Virna Food’s Artisan Seitanists: Mounir Nachid, Virve Räisänen, Päivi Ruusula and Juha Teivonen
Made in Kerava

Virna Food ended up in Kerava by chance. “We looked for a new production space for a long time, and at first, we thought we wanted to stay in the capital area. However, we found a space in Kerava that met our needs at a low cost, and in retrospect, that was an excellent choice. Our new location is only a 2-minute drive from a motorway. The lifeblood of the entrepreneur is that the goods move quickly and efficiently.” states Juha. 

“Kerava is perfect for small producers. Now that we have settled here, we have noticed how many active entrepreneurs there are. Made-in-Kerava has become a brand. It is a sales pitch that we are from Kerava.”  Virve continues. 

Päivi Rusula, who works as Virna Food’s event and sales coordinator and states Kerava as her hometown, agrees: “Local production is a huge deal here. In every household in Kerava, you can find local food brands such as Kokkikartano and Savuhovi. We are a small village in the middle of a city and a short distance from the metropolitan area.”

“We collaborate with local entrepreneurs and educational institutions. For example, we participated in the “My future” event in January, where 9th-grade students learned about local businesses and working life. We received great feedback!” Virve adds. The City of Kerava organized the event with the local entrepreneur association, a vocational institute, a business development center, and more than 30 companies and employers.

Chef Mounir Nachid holds a package of the Artisan seitan

The wheat used in the production comes from Italy, as the protein content of Finnish wheat is too low for seitan production. “High-protein wheat was cultivated experimentally here in the 80s, but consumption was so small it was not profitable. Things may change one day! However, oats, seeds, broad beans, and vegetables are domestic, and the packaging is also made in Finland. According to Virna’s core values, every product is nutritionally sound, meaningful, and necessary.

Our main product is “Porcini & caramelized onion”, the first seitan granted the heart symbol of healthy food. Our “Tomato & basil” has a flavor that suits everyone. There is also a lot of demand for vegan wedding catering, as the seitan is perfect for a festive table. Initially, our festive seitan ham was made for the Christmas market, but now it is available all year round – for any celebration like Mother’s Day or Easter”, says Virve. In addition, Virna Food’s product family includes seitan pie, porcini pasty, vegan ham, and various groats and cubes intended for professional kitchens.

Sales packages of the Artisan seitan

“We now also have a new product in stores, Roasted Garlic & Chili, which we expect to succeed. The product was tested for the first time at the traditional Garlic Festival in Kerava.” continues Juha.    

The recipes have also been designed in cooperation with other producers in the Helsinki Ring of Industry area – and Virna Food and Gary Renegade, a fava bean entrepreneur based in Pornainen, participated in the Finnish Vegan Challenge campaign. This summer, they will run a barbecue campaign together.  “There is a local event called “What on earth” organized in Mäntsälä that opens the summer season. We will promote fava bean sausage, seitan barbecue steak, and broad bean barbecue steak. We have also found a tremendously good bakery in Uusimaa. They make the Seitis pie with our recipe and ingredients. ” Virve says.

In the future, Virna Food plans to participate in food fairs in, for example, Tallinn, Milan, and Berlin. “Our goal is to be an international brand because the product is good, and the demand is huge. Currently, the facilities are sufficient, and production can be increased. All being well, the factory gets too small one day – hopefully quite soon.” Juha laughs.

Virna Food

Virna Food produces artisan seitan in their Kerava factory. Seitan is a vegetable protein made from wheat originating in Asia. It can be used like meat in many different recipes. Virna Food has developed a method which makes the artisan seitan exceptionally soft and succulent.

Santaniitynkatu 6
04250 Kerava
FINLAND

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