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Watch: Chicago’s Nordic Cuisine Makes This NBA Player Feel at Home

Finland native Lauri Markkanen discovers sweet potato dumplings at West Loop’s Elske

While the NBA is based in the U.S., it recruits top talent from around the globe to play in its league. For most players, they have to leave their American cities when drafted or traded, but some travel much farther to leave their home countries. Still, that doesn’t mean they have to give up the food they grew up with.

Chicago Bulls power forward Lauri Markkanen was born in Vantaa, Finland, and drafted to the Bulls in 2017 when he was 20 years old. New to the Windy City, Markkanen joins Eater Chicago senior editor Ashok Selvam, who is introducing him to Elske — a West Loop restaurant with Danish influences that earned a spot on 2017’s list of Best New Restaurants. Critic Bill Addison writes, “The food mines the same [Danish] aesthetic, melding Nordic austerity with Midwestern warmth; it’s a marriage of thrilling highs and lows.” For Markkanen, it’s a chance to try local dishes that remind him of home.

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