“Add a little bit love to each dish”…When you go to take an interview from a chief cook of the restaurant you imagine a big strict man with moustache more than 50 years old with a bad sense of humor and awful character. The chief cook of the restaurant “Myasnoy udar” breaks all templates.
When he entered the room I didn’t believe to my eyes and few seconds I was thinking that was a mistake. This is not a chief cook! Chief cook is not a nice and young guy; they have a paunch with a dirty stain apron that they don’t take off even before going to bed. While my brain tried to do anything with this suddenly cognitive discord Roman won my favor. He has a lot of charm and positive mood (sorry but he should be a Hollywood star and act in movies with Mila Jovovich). This is too strange thought I looking around. He even has not got a moustache, – mentally I told to Gogol. Existential fall, - I thought. Let’s know why Roman Vladimirovich is not like everyone.
If be honest I imagined that the chef must be big man with a fat rosy cheeks. One look is enough to understand that this is a chief cook! I saw chief cooks only at the book cover “Three fat man”. And you…you are different. I would say you are a singer or an actor, but are not a chief cook! May be you have started to work recently?
I have started my restaurant career in 1998 year. From those times I was a helper on the kitchen and opened new restaurants. My career started in the casino where I practiced as a waiter after watching a movie “Cocktail” with Tom Cruise. After 5 years I left the casino as a manager. That year I graduated the Institute of trading and economy with engineer specialty in St. Petersburg. Then I worked in best restaurants of St. Petersburg with different chief cooks which left me many positive moments of life. Participation on different international competition gave me a confidence. After there were openings of some restaurants, new menus and everything was in a whirl.
Why you have chosen this profession?
All descendants in mother’s line were chief cooks and technologists, so it wasn’t a hard choice. After the 9th form I studied for a conditioner and then I entered the university and school of sommelier. I like cooking and searching for new taste combinations. I think it is the most important.
Sometimes it happens that the café is not good enough but the food is perfect and vice versa. How do you think what is the reason?
Good dish is formed from qualitative products and good combinations. Many restaurants want to save money on delivery, freeze products, don’t control the quality. There are a lot of problems but the main is a human factor.
For example, you came to New York. What will you do first? Will you go to the restaurant?
Of course! I always try to know novelties in restaurant business, taste dishes of different countries cuisines. Definitely I would go to Michelin restaurant.
How would you estimate the restaurant? What will be criteria?
Usually restaurants are estimated according to service, cuisine, atmosphere and other criteria. I pay attention to the menu, waiter professionalism and even on the toilet. I think that people come to the restaurant not only for food, but also to relax. You will want to come back again to the good restaurant.
Are there any indications of a good restaurant?
They are: whole atmosphere, waiters’ charm and sanitary norms. A good restaurant is not afraid to show the kitchen to visitors. Also I think each restaurant should have its own trick.
I think if I was a professional chef cook I couldn’t visit other restaurants quietly. I would estimate – this is not enough salty, this one is without pepper and the third one is too much saffron. No rest - only estimation!
I try to visit restaurants to relax not to criticize. Otherwise it would not be pleasant to hear to my companions. Another case if I go to the restaurants with my colleagues.
Chief cook is a creator, an artist. Where do you take an inspiration?
Creativity is directly depends on the mood. Sometimes I need a restart.
One chief cook complained on espionage. He said that idea, decoration are always stolen. You put your heart and soul to the dish, don’t sleep all nights and it is just stolen. Have you faced with it?
Of course it happens. But a self-respecting chief cook will never copy the dish completely. Rather he would create it referring to his own experience. I had a situation when other restaurants sent their chiefs. But my menu is open for my colleagues because if you want to copy the dish you will probably do it. The matter is will they cook it as tasty as I.
William Pokhlebkin said: “Food is a problem not for a stomach but for a heart, the problem of national soul revival. There are dishes that haven’t disappeared from Russian cuisine for thousands years as for example shchi with black bread. Roman, do you have shchi in your menu?
William Pokhlebkin is an outstanding person. He made a lot for Russian cuisine development. I have shchi in my menu and I serve it with meat patties which are baked every morning. And I cook shchi on a good fat broth.
What the most popular dish for foreigners? More often Russians order salad Caesar, don’t they?
Yes, we have top-dishes that compose a profitable menu. Everything depends on visitor. Is he ready to try new tastes combination or he wants to eat well-known dish.
Why is there no master class with chef cooks in Kazan? For example master class from the best chef cook of molecular cuisine. I think it would be a great show and people would like it.
According to St. Peterburg’s experience I can say that our people are not ready for such innovations although many restaurants use some elements. I have studied molecular cuisine for very long time to say that it takes a lot of money and PR-actions to implement it.
Roman, do you cook at home? Or you hate the oven at the end of the working day?
It depends on mood and free time. In general I like cooking and sometimes I work out some dishes at home. I have well equipped kitchen and I can do for example sorbet with liquid nitrogen in one minute or an omelet from mango.
Next question worries me a lot but I haven’t an answer. Why Russian cuisine is not popular in the world? The answer was: “No sale”. It hurts me for our borsch and pelmeni. What is your opinion?
Anatoli Komm propagandize well Russian cuisine in new look. It is very famous in many countries. I am a patriot and think that it is not so bad. Many people eat shchi and borsch. There are good restaurants with Russian cuisine that maintain reputation.
What was the most extravagant dish you had done?
Bitter sweet fois gras with honey pesto on the mango and chili pillow.
What was the first dish you had cooked? How old were you?
When my mother was out of home I couldn’t stay and ate cakes which were her order. In three hours I had to do new. I was 11 years old.
What cuisine do you prefer: Russian, Italian, central Asian or French? Why?
Russian and French. Russian is preferable, but French is more interesting in service.
What do you think about many culinary TV shows? Do you watch it?
Real work is rather different. I have no time to watch it.
Tell us please about “Cook alliance” site www.cook-alliance.com
This site is interesting for everyone who likes to cook. There you can find many interesting people and ideas.
How do you think Roman, when Kazan people will start to order not only meat and meat but ravioli with leek and fois gras, veloute from sweet pepper with ginger and lavender honey?
I will do my best to accustom them. (Roman is laughing).
What will be your wish to our readers?
Add a part of your love to the dish and eat it twice. First time with your eyes and then try it.
Crab “Severen” with a trout and saffron sauce.
Ingredients (in gram):
Spaghetti - 6
Crab meat – 26
Champignons – 50
Shallot onion – 54
Mozzarella cheese – 14
Cream 33% - 30
Eggs – 60
Aubergine – 30
Trout – 210
Kura Sami - 2
Garlic – 2
Spices – 2
Salt – 2
White vine – 20
Oil – 8
Boil spaghetti half prepared, wrap it by form and freeze it. Cut crab meat, champignons, shallot onion and fry it on oil. Add cream and cheese and then cool it. Add egg yolk and whipped white of the egg. Fill frozen spaghetti with this mixture. Put one lay of spinach. Freeze it. Make a mousse from trout, white of egg, cream and brew saffron. Fill the form with spaghetti. Put stewed spinach on trout filet and a slice of fried aubergine with garlic. Wrap it in the form greased with butter. Cook on the white vine steam. Bring frozen crab “Severen” to doneness on steam. Make a broth from perch. Fry onion and champignons. Add vine, broth and cream. Steam out. Filter. Add brewed saffron. Decorate with Kura Sami, aubergine skin and spaghetti.
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