Helmi Vainikainen (1885-1979)
Helmi Vainikainen gathering ingredients for a meal at Ainola.
Helmi Vainikainen was engaged to work at Ainola in November 1907, after the first choices for servants had proved unsatisfactory. She was taken on as a nanny, but she had previously worked as a cook at Halosenniemi, and she soon became the sovereign mistress of the kitchen at Ainola. She continued to work at Ainola until the 1960s.
Normally the meals at Ainola were plain, but for feasts Vainikainen prepared her special dish of roast fowl. This was Sibelius's favourite dish (apart from oysters). The beak part had to point upwards, and the head had to be arranged artistically on the platter. Red wine, for example Chateau Paveil de Luze and Pontet-Canet, was served with the food.
Vainikainen was held in high regard and she was given wage increases as Sibelius's financial situation improved. A splendid 60th birthday party was arranged her at Ainola on 9th July 1945. According to the parlourmaid, Aino Kari, Sibelius made a fine speech for his cook: "This is not the home of a merchant, nor is it the home of a civil servant; this is the home of an artist, one that Helmi has always understood so very well."
Read Helmi Vainikainen's Memories of Ainola