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St Urho's Day Mojakka Cook-Off

Serving mojakka
Ed Jaakola (left) awaits another taster while Charlene Harms fills a tasting cup.
Photo © by Tim Winker
After the success of the 1st Ever St. Urho's Day Mojakka Cook-Off, there will likely be a 2nd Annual. (It can't be "annual" until the second year.) One-hundred fifty mojakka fans showed up to taste eight different variations of the Finnish-American soup.

There were two varieties with fish - one made with Northern and flavored with dill, the other from a family recipe featuring salmon and crappie. The remaining six were primarily beef, ranging from beef roast to hamburger, with one created using a moose roast as the primary ingredient.

The panel of four judges was all of Finnish heritage, though one was not familiar with mojakka. The judging was by a blind test... the judges did not know who made which soup, nor did they know the ingredients. The results of their efforts, and the judges' comments in italics:

  • 1st Place (tie) - Moose Mojakka, Ed Jaakola, Cloquet, MN
    "Tender meat. Secret Ingredients give it a little pizzaz. Tangy aftertaste. Traditional style."
  • 1st Place (tie) - Salmon/Crappie Kalamojakka,
    Judy & Larry Johnson, Esko, MN
    "Trout? finely chopped. Balanced flavors. Well rounded, not fishy."
  • 2nd Place - Lihamojakka, Steve Pedley, Duluth, MN
    "Good Old Days taste. Well cooked. Golden broth. Vegetables not overcooked."
  • 3rd Place - Helen's Mojakka, Alan Alaspa, Cloquet, MN
    "Mixed marriage mojakka. Made with green pepper, tomatoes and baby carrots. Hot sauce!"

Eino Retenttinen brought one each:
Kalamojakka and Lihamojakka
Eino Retenttinen brought one each:
Kalamojakka and Lihamojakka

Photo © by Gerry Henkel
Nearly 100 of the mojakka tasters cast ballots for the People's Choice Award, which went overwhelmingly to Alan Alaspa's entry, created from his mother's recipe.

All of the mojakkas were quite good, so it was difficult to choose a "best". There certainly were no losers. The other participants were:

  • Pat Ekman, Esko - "My Mumu's Hamburger Mojakka"
  • Charlene & Richard Harms, Duluth - Mojakka (beef & potatoes)
  • Pam Jurvelin, Cloquet - "Pammy Mae's Secret Recipe Mojakka"
  • Steve Pedley, Duluth - Kalamojakka (Northern Pike flavored with fresh dill)

"We were quite pleased with the turnout," said organizer Tim Winker. "We had just enough mojakka for everyone to try all of the entries. Now we'll have to challenge the Minnesota cities of Menahga, New York Mills, Embarass and other Finnish-American communities to bring out their best for a State Mojakka Cook-Off. After that we'll get the best from Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan and make it the National Mojakka Championship. Add a few entries from Thunder Bay and we can crown the 'World's Best Mojakka Chef'."

Friends of Animals The Friends of Animals Humane Society of Carlton County, Inc., and their new animal shelter in Cloquet were the beneficiaries of this event. Over $800 was raised for the charity.

Winners receive a gift certificate from Bergquist Imports of Cloquet and a trophy created by Alaspa Jewelers. Other contributors included:

- Posters. Northern Printery, Cloquet
- Door prizes. Bergquist Imports; TJ's Enterprises of Superior, WI; Mick Zengel of Duluth; Kaija Bispala Finnish Gifts of Minneapolis.
- Graphics. Don Johnson, Graphic Designer and Illustrator.
- Space for the Cook-off. Northeastern Hotel, Cloquet.
- Promotion. Tim Winker, Wink Timber Media Agency
- and

Organizer Tim Winker with Mojakka Judges
L to R: Jennika Soyring, Tim Winker, Connie Wirta, Priscilla Harvala.
Photo © by Gerry Henkel

Mojakka Judges:

  • Jennika Soyring, Miss Cloquet 2002-2003
  • Connie Wirta, features editor, Duluth News-Tribune
  • Gerry Henkel, Clover Valley, editor, New World Finn
  • Priscilla Harvala, Esko, Finnish-American poet

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