Aleksander Yourz: Any Restaurant Should Have a Soul

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Aleksander Yourz painting with food

Young and ambitious are the most frequent adjectives you will hear about Aleksander Yourz. The Odesa native has managed to work as a chef in Montenegro, as well as gained broad experience in top restaurants in major Ukrainian cities. Nowadays he is the chef in one of the classiest restaurants in Odesa — Bernardazzi. We asked Aleksander to share his forecast as to culinary trends, to tell about his career and what it takes for a restaurant to be successful.

When was the first time you considered being a chef as a career?

That’s an interesting question. Probably every person has thought about it one way or another since childhood. My path had different periods: at the very beginning, I wanted to be an architect and a designer. I’ve been painting graffiti for almost 15 years and still do it. Besides, I began painting with food using sauces, syrups and other materials. This is the second dream of mine that came true.

In fact, food became a big part of my life quite spontaneously. My grandma has always told me that I am great at cooking and she still says it now. She also said a great thing: “The kitchen is warm, you are fed and well-paid there”. That’s why I decided to give it a try.Aleksander experimenting with cuisineI started out as a dishwasher, and cleaned vegetables too. The fact that you have to feed a large number of people per day is fascinating - this process and the rhythm of the kitchen charmed me. So that’s how it started. Today I’m a chef and I incredibly enjoy my job as well as the creativity that lies in it.

In your opinion, what is essential for a perfect restaurant?

Aleksander on the kitchen at workFor me, a perfect restaurant is the one that has a heart and a soul. When you enter a ‘plastic’, faux restaurant where you don’t feel love, you don’t want to come back. I think it’s great when you see the chef in the kitchen and the administrator in the hall - and you can talk to them both. That way, you come for the people, not for the picture created by a dude who got a load of money. Any restaurant should have a soul.

What do you enjoy the most about your profession and workdays?

I enjoy the rhythm - as a chef you are always in motion, creating new dishes because seasons change and autumn & winter products absolutely differ from spring & summer ones. It’s a rhythm that gives you a chance to truly feel being alive all the time. When the restaurant is packed, your meeting calendar is full, a team of cooks responds “Yes, chef” to you and you all applaud each other at the end of service - those are the moments of the greatest satisfaction from the job. It’s ineffable and I love it.

The pan-Asian cuisine is a huge trend in Kyiv these days. What about Odesa? What trends should we expect in the near future?

Dishes in Bernardazzi in OdesaI am really glad that people in Odesa have chosen wine as the new direction. I wish there were more young chefs who would prepare delicious meals and open their own restaurants in the city - that’s when things will work out for us. I actually believe in future of Pan-Asian cuisine in Odesa. It’s a very nice cuisine that tastes great if you serve it right, just like any other in the world. However, I think Odesa has different trends than Kyiv - we go separate ways.

Do you like experimenting in the kitchen or you prefer traditional recipes?

We use classics a lot - it’s actually evident from our menu. For instance, Vorshmak is included in the new positions. I took the traditional taste and recipe but served in a new way: I made a chip from unfermented dough with Borodinsky bread flavor, mixing in malt and cilantro. Then we made an Aioli with wasabi and honey. We marinated herring ourselves, adding melted brown butter and cow cheese. Then we mixed it all in a thermomix to make a perfect mousse. All this is placed on the top of the chip with the apple and cucumber tartare.

What dish would you recommend the first-comers to your restaurant?

For those who first come to Bernardazzi, I’d recommend choosing something made from the products you like. Some like fish, some meat and some enjoy vegetables. We have worked hard on every dish for a long time and mastered it many times. That’s why choosing just one dish would be unfair.

Photo sources: Aleksander Yourz, Bernardazzi restaurant. All images belong to their rightful authors.

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