Dima Borisov: "Our history of working with farmers began many years ago. To be more accurate, at the very beginning we had our own farm with a herd of Angus bulls and so on. However, our restaurants' demand started to surpass what we could produce. It became clear that these are two completely different businesses – and you need to choose just one.
I chose restaurants.
In parallel, we were actively engaging all those who were interested in producing a high-quality product. This happens all over the world: restaurateurs create demand and support farmers, thanks to which farmers can make products of stable quality. This is a long process, which, of course, is not yet completed.
The main problems are the same: almost no-one can handle our volumes and offer smooth logistics. Every day more than 7,000 people eat in our restaurants. These are tonnes of products per month.
However, there are certain achievements, too. For example, Kozyatyn has some excellent beef. We buy it there for our steakhouse and then keep it in special aging chambers. There are also several small farms in Ukraine that produce excellent lamb.
We have collected more than 50 Ukrainian local cheeses in the art and gastronomic space "Ostannya Barykada" ("The Last Barricade"). We have ripened cheese of unique taste, a wonderful line of goat and buffalo cheese. To collect them, we have traveled all over Ukraine, from Transcarpathian Region to Bessarabia.
Few people know that Ukraine is now one of the key exporters of various delicacies: from foie gras (Snyatyn, Ivano-Frankivsk Region) to sturgeon caviar (farms in Kyiv suburbs) and snails (Vinnytsya Region) and so on. By the way, one of the farms produces specially salted sturgeon caviar – a GASTROFAMILY line - for our restaurants.
Ukrainian alcohol is a separate story. For example, the bar in "Ostannya Barykada" is 100% Ukrainian. It offers local single malt whiskey, Ukrainian grappa, calvados, and so on. All cocktails are made using these drinks.
Year after year, Ukrainian wineries make me increasingly happy. The most interesting ones are in the south of the country: from the Kolonist to the Prince Trubetskoy Winery and modernized Shabo (by the way, this winery produces our private label, GASTROFAMILY).
We can already offer a competitive list of Ukrainian wines, which is a nice shock for guests.
At the same time, it is necessary to understand that the path of supporting local products is by no means the easiest one. You should not only think about stability, volumes and logistics all the time but, in fact, develop the gastronomic culture of your guests by introducing them to local specialties."
Photos provided by Dima Borisov