• Sweden edition
'Now I know just how Ingrid Bergman felt'

'Now I know just how Ingrid Bergman felt'

Published: 30 Dec 2011 12:46 GMT+01:00
Updated: 30 Dec 2011 12:46 GMT+01:00

Paavo Turtiainen answers the phone from his apartment near Ground Zero in Manhattan.

It may seem an unlikely place for a humble Finnish farm boy to call home, but then again Turtiainen's entire career could be characterized as unlikely.

According to his own account, his long-time friends and previous employers, Swedish screen legend Ingrid Bergman and Swedish producer Lars Schmidt, found him, like Moses in the reeds, at the airport in Helsinki “in a basket”.

The famous Swedes whisked the unassuming 19-year-old away with them to Paris, where Turtiainen took command of the celebrity couple's kitchen.

As Turtiainen puts it, Bergman and Schmidt “adopted” him and taught him how to navigate among the rich and famous.

Eventually, he became their personal secretary, assuming primary responsibility for building up and organizing both Bergman's and Schmidt's private archives.

Turtiainen later settled in New York, where he continued his career as an event planner for screen legends, royalty and other eminently recognizable clients.

Now Turtiainen's unlikely career has been detailed in a new documentary film ”Paavo – A Life in Five Courses” by Finnish director Hanna Hemilä, which is set to air on Friday, December 30th on Sveriges Television (SVT).

TL: What has your association with Ingrid Bergman and Lars Schmidt meant to you?

PT: They and their families became like a second family to me. This continues today even after Ingrid and Lars have passed. My association with them has affected other people who deal with me.

When first I applied for a green card in the US, I went to the US Embassy in Helsinki and found myself sitting across from a petite lady behind a big desk. Before her, she had a huge pile of material that belonged to the application.

Yet, she ignored most of the papers, looked over them and asked, ”So, how was Ingrid Bergman as a person?” We talked about this for about a half an hour after which she just signed the papers.

TL: What is your personal memory of Ingrid Bergman?

PT: There are so many memories, but one in particular concerns the four months I spent with her working from morning to evening helping her to sort her papers, letters and photographs.

She was very distraught. This sort of thing brings out both good and bad memories, and of course there were things she regretted.

I was only 24 at the time and, as she looked back upon her considerable body of work and the life she had led, she got me thinking about what I was going to be and do with my life.

Having now looked back on my own life through the making of the film, I know just how she felt.

TL: What has been the reaction to the film so far?

PT: It is the reactions from the people I don't know that are most surprising.

Mine is really a story of Finnish farm boy ends up being successful in Manhattan, and it's all been because I am prepared to 'float,' meaning not be fixed in my ideas about who I am, rather just look forward and keep my eyes open.

I think many people are moved by that story of not being stuck in conceptions about oneself, taking opportunities and opening up to possibility. They find it courageous.

TL: What is the most important piece of advice you would give to an aspiring chef and event planner?

PT:It's heavy work. There is nothing glamorous about it – as television seems to portray the culinary world these days - and you know it when you see everything packed up in the middle of an empty room, which just hours before was a glamorous party.

The film shows how much work goes into one of these events. Yet, it is an adventure each time.

Food is not an exact art and this is what makes it exciting. You can have an idea, and the end product can be better than what you started with, because you are always totally open to something new.

You get a very close look into other people's lives working with events planning. The most important thing is to use that opportunity to make the client look as good as possible.

TL: What is your favourite dish or ingredient from your mother's kitchen in Karelia?

PT:My mother and father were very poor but everything we consumed was grown on the farm.

We picked berries and mushrooms, and ate fresh foods. We had it all there - there was such a spontaneity and freshness about it.

I try to bring that inspiration into my recipes.

”Paavo – a Life in Five Courses” will air on SVT 2 at 8pm on December 30th, January 3rd at 11.40pm, and January 8th at 10.45pm

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Grounded flights strand Swedes in Tel Aviv
Photo: Matt Rourke/TT

Grounded flights strand Swedes in Tel Aviv

UPDATE: About 270 passengers planning to fly to Stockholm are still stranded in Tel Aviv, and airlines have stated that flights will likely be grounded on Thursday as well. READ  

The Local List
Top ten: Swedish taboos
The butter knife is for butter. Photo: Mats Sandelin/TT

Top ten: Swedish taboos

From standing in line to taking your hols in the off-season, Sweden is a society with customs and faux pas, the Danes might say taboos. Here is a list of ten to watch out for. READ  

Fears mount for Swede kidnapped in Ukraine
A tank in Horlivka. Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky/TT

Fears mount for Swede kidnapped in Ukraine

A mediator who handles prisoner exchanges between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels said on Wednesday that he feared for the life of a kidnapped Swede. READ  

Vattenfall cuts losses despite 'tough market'
Photo: TT

Vattenfall cuts losses despite 'tough market'

Swedish power group Vattenfall said on Wednesday that second quarter losses had been cut despite trying market conditions, forecasting that energy prices were unlikely to recover in the "foreseeable future". READ  

Swedes 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Swedish actors Peter Johansson, Anna Sahlin and Måns Zelmerlöw. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Swedes 'most beautiful' in the Nordics

Who is the fairest of them all? Swedes are, according to the rest of the Nordic nations in a recent survey. READ  

My Swedish Career
American teams up with Swede to beat cancer
Matthew Volsky holding the Gynocoular colposcope which is used for screening cervical cancer. Photo: Gynocoular

American teams up with Swede to beat cancer

When Matthew Volsky first came to Sweden he didn't think he would stick around. Six years and a pioneering invention later he tells The Local about the medical device which is helping save lives around the world. READ  

Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Arla organic milk. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth

Swedes are spending more and more of their food budget on organic foodstuffs, with major supermarkets reporting double digit increases, according to new statistics. READ  

Swedish police warn of rogue pregnant cow
The cow pictured is not the one in the story, and presumably not cranky. Photo: Mike Groll/TT

Swedish police warn of rogue pregnant cow

Police in southern Sweden have issued a public warning about a pregnant cow on the loose, after two people were sent to the hospital after a hustle with the heifer. READ  

Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
Photo: Mark Lennihan/TT

Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax

With EU countries' treatment of Bitcoin varying vastly, Sweden has asked for clear EU rules stipulating whether or not the cryptocurrency should be taxed. READ  

Google in failed bid for Sweden's Spotify
Photo: Spotify

Google in failed bid for Sweden's Spotify

US Internet giant Google tried last year to buy Sweden-based streaming music service Spotify, but pulled out due to the beefed-up price tag, according to a media report on Tuesday. READ  

Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Blog updates

22 July

Det (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! “Det” is a personal pronoun that can be used in many ways, and it might me confusing if you always translate “det” to English “it”. In this article I will do my best to guide you to how to use “det”. Det replacing a word, a phrase or a clause Let us begin with the less confusing..." READ »


22 July


"Today (22 July) my Prime Minister, David Cameron, and UNICEF, are hosting the world’s first #GirlSummit in London. The Summit’s aim is to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end the appalling practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child Early Forced Marriage (CEFM). This is a high priority for the UK government and the Prime..." READ »

Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Finest.se
People-watching July 15-16
Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
What's On in Sweden
Photo: Lisa Mikulski
Hope springs eternal for expat pet shop owner
Princess Estelle steals limelight at mum's birthday
Swedes risk infants' lives by covering up prams
Swede runs for office just using Bitcoin funds
People-watching July 11-13
Malmö mayor slams Danish beggar ban
Swedish anti-abortion midwife sues county
Swede's salary chopped for Facebook use
Northern Sweden warmest in 90 years
'Victoria Day': Crown Princess Victoria turns 37
Mona Sahlin to fight extremism in Sweden
EU tells Sweden to cover up snus flavours
Swede snags assassin role in Tom Cruise film
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at: