Just a couple of days before the New Year Eve we talked to Viktor Timchishin, chef of Black Market restaurant in Kyiv, about his view on the restaurant business in the country. While talking we prepared a delicious dish for the holiday table.
Victor, what are we going to cook now and what do we need for that?
We will cook Wellington beef. This is a Christmas and New Year Eve dish. It is very easy to cook it at home. To do this, we need a very good meat, mushrooms, mustard, egg, puff pastry, spinach, spices and salt.
Let's talk about concept of Ukrainian Fashion Food invented by you. What is it?
This concept was formed 6-7 years ago. That time there were a lot of restaurants with so-called European cuisine: risotto, pasta, sushi, pizza, and so on were on the menu. The percentage of Ukrainian restaurants was extremely small and restaurants with national cuisine almost did not existent. It was not due to the fact that our customer was not interested in such a product, but for people it was ordinary, daily meal, that they could cook at home by themselves. So we wanted to change it. We organized the first dinner for a gourmet club with the concept of Ukrainian modern cuisine, and then it turned into a television project. We did that on a voluntary basis, for free, in our spare time. We found a channel that has agreed to go for it, found the participants of the project and implemented it. Young men (now they are chefs in good restaurants) cooked traditional Ukrainian dishes in a new, modern version.
Our cooking process: Tenderloin is pre-fried in a frying pan, as well as mushrooms. We add salt pepper. Spinach leaves are slightly fried. We put mustard on dough. Then we spread a layer of fried mushrooms and spinach on dough and put tenderloin. Wrap the dough, close the edges. Top the dough with beaten egg and put it in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes at 170 degrees.
In one of the essays of you it was said that you promulgate intellectual, healthy and modern food. What does “intellectual" food” mean?
It means a meal when you can’t immediately understand the ingredients and the process of cooking. For example, we have a mysterious dessert of two hemispheres with air-cream inside. Even many chefs do not know how it's all done. It's so interesting when you dish is intriguing not only with taste, but also with the method of preparation.
I think now it is not difficult to draw inspiration for the chef's work. Each chef has something of his own that stimulates his creativity. What is it for you?
Clean air, pure thoughts can inspire as well as dreams and good products. I always want to cook something interesting when I get really good products.
What do you think about foodpairing? (a special method of selecting the ingredients, research and creation of new combinations of flavors and aromatic compositions)
I do not fully understand the meaning of this, but it seems that this trend will pass quickly. It's interesting, and if there is a client who wants to get this kind of a product, so it has a right to exist.
Haute cuisine now is also popular. How do you percept it?
Haute cuisine for me is not very understandable and acceptable in that sense like it is in Ukraine. Haute cuisine would involve a recognizable chef with great experience, not just a person who has finished cooking courses. For example, Caesar Salad by Ducasse is available only in his restaurant. But in our country Haute cuisine has a different meaning - for example, someone adds dumplings into traditional borshch and calls it "Haute borshch".
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Do you have any favorite restaurants in Kyiv? And what do you search in a good restaurant: food, atmosphere or anything else?
I work in my favorite restaurant. I rarely go to the restaurants, simply because 90% of free time I also give to my work. I associate the restaurant with its chef. I do not take it as just a room with a meal. If I know the chef, this is a sign of a quality. I've got a set of chefs to whom I go. And if they move from one restaurant to another, I will go again to them to the new location. Tarelka (Plate) by Denis Kramarenko, Vicini Italy by Artem Urazaiev, Vintage Boutique Hotel in Lviv and Iurii Kovryzhenko are the places and chefs I go to. Kanapa is a good restaurant as well. Now there are a lot of restaurants. Someone is happy with this fact, but not me. This is not about competition. A lot of these restaurants are short-lived. Their bosses are not chefs, but simply businessmen who have extra money. I help to open restaurants sometimes, so I know how it's done.
If we talk about gastro-culture in our country is the consumer ready for what is happening in the restaurant business now?
I think that really small part is ready, about 2-3%, and the rest go to the restaurants because of the atmosphere, not because of the food. If we talk about trends, now there is a trend of Georgian cuisine, but it is also fleeting. I believe that soon people will go to the chefs, to come to the restaurant to eat, and not for the entourage. The crisis will affect the development of restaurants. Most of the one-day places will be closed; the good ones will be opening. There will be “healthy” competition and it will affect the customers as well. It will be the start of gastro-culture development.
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It is necessary to compare to be able to understand the cuisine. Even the availability of money does not mean that a person is a gourmet, quite the contrary. It's all about personal taste. Chiefs will also develop their skills and pass on local products. Now we are preparing the Australian steaks, not because we want to, but because it is a huge problem for us to find local reliable supplier of a high quality product. No one can guarantee regular supply of products, unfortunately. Our farmers want to disrupt a huge profit here and now, they do not live for tomorrow. They have no competition. Margins are huge. Sometimes it's easier and cheaper to deliver prosciutto from Italy than to buy it here. But it is also a process of evolution, everything will change.
If you had an unlimited budget, what kind of restaurant would you create? Please, describe it.
I would open some restaurant alike the one I work now at. But it is important to open it at the right time. This would be an inexpensive, accessible restaurant with delicious European haute cuisine. It is my professional dream and goal.
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What will be on your Christmas table at home?
I will probably order some food delivery from the restaurant. I have Christmas tradition to be at work. I certainly cook at home, but it is always a simple food with good products.
How do you see the future of food?
I doubt that something will change dramatically. I hope that food won’t be in tubes or tablets. As well as the TV did not kill the theater art, and technology will not displace usual delicious food. New technologies will be used for the development of cooking. I certainly do not know for sure, but I want to believe that our profession will be always prestigious and popular.
By the way, Willington beef is ready! Bon Appetite!
Interviewed by Anna Vishtak
Photos by Yulia Kurta