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Hello, Suomi! Working in Finland: Angola-born Teresa Kuango talks culture, customer service and… the strangest Finnish food

Waitress Teresa Kuango started working in restaurant customer service in Angola. She loves working as a waitress and wanted to do the same work in Finland. First, she studied the Finnish language and work culture for three years. In 2012, she started working as a temporary restaurant worker in Helsinki at Musiikkitalo, Chico’s and Messukeskus until she got a permanent job at HOK Elanto’s restaurants.

The biggest challenge?

In the beginning, working was challenging due to my insufficient Finnish language skills. I was afraid to talk with a large group of customers.

One day, I served a larger group, but I said something wrong in Finnish. One of the customers bluntly corrected the mistake and the others started laughing at me. I started to panic and walked out of the situation. Then I decided to face my fear. I handled the situation, and since then, I haven’t been afraid of any kinds of situations at work. Now, many customers have become friends and are like my little family.

Your favorite Angolan ingredient?

I miss fresh fish that is taken directly from the sea. In Finland, I have not yet managed to get fish that is as fresh as the fish in Angola.

The best thing at work?

I enjoy giving every customer the best possible customer experience. This means focusing and giving your best whether you’re tired or having a bad day.

Teresa Kuango
Teresa Kuango brings joy and energy to the workplace. PHOTO Mia Heiskanen

The best feedback you’ve received?

I am often told that I have a sunny personality and that I am clearly in the right occupation. I truly feel that I was born for customer service!

The biggest mistake?

Once I got a customer’s order wrong. However, the customer ate the wrong portion without complaints until I noticed the mistake. I went out of my way to apologize and explain what happened. Usually, it helps if you admit the mistake, apologize and offer something as compensation.

I bring to the work community…

Energy and fun. I never stand still, and if there’s a quiet moment, I clean and organize places.

How would you improve the Finnish service culture?

I wish the attitude towards work would be a bit more relaxed and work would be done with more joy.

Meatballs with gravy, mashed potatoes and lingonberry
Teresa Kuango is not a fan of meatballs and mash. PHOTO / bdspn & sbossert

What is the strangest Finnish food?

Meatballs with cream sauce and mashed potatoes. I don’t like the texture of meatballs, and the whole combination is a weird mess. My other dislike is herring. Although I love fish, the taste of silli is an absolute no!

READ MORE: Hello, Suomi! Working in Finland: Malaysia-born chef Boo Niinivaara talks surprises, challenges, people

Teresa Kuango


  • Teresa Kuango
  • Waitress
  • Restaurant HOK Elanto Restaurants
  • Born in Angola

  • Tilaa Lehti

    Inspiraatiota ja hyötyä ruuan ja juoman ammattilaisille.

    Tilaa Aromi