Reginald Ioos Talks about Michelin Stars, Le Cordon Bleu and Varenyky

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Chef Reginald Ioos works at the Kyiv RestArt 2018 Festival

A Frenchmen with Belgian roots, Reginald Ioos got the best from the two countries: he worked at the two Michelin-starred restaurant in Brussels and at the top five hotels in Paris while also cooking for French ministers. Nowadays, Chef Ioos teaches at Le Cordon Bleu, one of the most prestigious culinary schools in the world. Destinations met with Reginald in his natural surrounding - in the kitchen while he prepared for the upcoming culinary class at the RestArt Forum in Kyiv.

Reginald, how did you start your career in the culinary world?

I started my career before I even was a student — at home with my family. All the male members of my family cooked: I remember my father cooked a lot, and so did my grandfather. That’s how I started: as a child, I tasted everything that grew in the garden and the farm, just discovered ingredients. In such a way I fell in love with food.

What would you say makes a chef worthy a Michelin star?

Reginald Ioos cooking in KyivI never got one myself, though I worked at a restaurant that had two Michelin stars. Maybe one day I’ll open my own restaurant but nowadays I really enjoy teaching. I know for sure how to maintain a Michelin star: a lot of focus, no room for mistakes, precision, passion and, of course, hard work.

What is the most rewarding thing about teaching at Le Cordon Bleu?

It is when students come to me and say, “Chef, I have learned so much and taken so much on board”. Nowadays I even have former students that also became teachers. For me, it’s not even about the comments about my work — I like to share, train and pass on my passion. That’s natural for me.

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What is your personal comfort food?

It’s something homey. I am French with Belgian roots and I grew up on the Belgian-French border. The region has very local, unique Flemish cuisine that is rich and very intense in flavors. The food I grew up with was very seasonal: in winter, we had no tomatoes, strawberries — nothing. What we had was vegetables, celery, potatoes, carrots, leek...I was educated with the season and what was growing on the farm and in the garden.

Are you familiar with Ukrainian cuisine?

Reginald Ioos in KyivNot so much, but from what I discovered the other day. I had a chance to go to Poland and from what I tasted, Ukrainian and Polish cuisine got similarities. I’m always happy to discover more. So far I’m familiar with what I had at a restaurant when I arrived in Kyiv.

So what did you try? Was it the famous borshch?

Yes, we had a borshch. I’ve tried it before but it wasn’t like this. Here, it’s a proper soup that you eat with meat, potatoes, and bones — everything in. It was great. After that, we had your traditional dumplings.

That’s varenyky.

Yes (smiles). Some were stuffed with potatoes, some with meat, some with cabbage...I also had the smoked fish roll and a charcuterie [a plate of smoked, dry-cured or cooked meats].

I see. What did you like the most from all these?

Everything but the cheese, really. I don’t eat cheese at all, so I missed this part.

Reginald then took off to get ready for his upcoming culinary workshop at RestArt Forum 2018 to do what he knows and enjoys the best — passing on his knowledge and passion for food.

Photos provided by RestArt Forum.

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