While travelling in Lapland, I met Esa Nilivaara, a reindeer herder and owner of NiliPoro restaurant in the small town of Levi.


Esa's roots are grounded in Sami's traditions. - the Sámi people are the indigenous inhabitants of this nordic land. Traditionally, their livelihood was often based on semi-nomadic reindeer herding.


The farm is a short drive from the town centre, here Esa's reindeers roam free. Not everybody can be a herder in the region. The job continues to be passed down through generations. Outsiders may be welcome in the community, but only if the whole association of herders in the area agrees by vote.

The restaurant offers locally sourced meals based on the recipes passed down by Esa's mother. The reindeer meat is paired with local mushrooms and berries from the nearby woods and freshly baked bread.

"We serve reindeer in many different ways, all meat is from our own herd, and it's processed here in Kittilä. It is local and fresh. Our reindeer delicacies are made by old traditions – with hints of global trends".


Go Back