ANDREY NESTERENKO – NATIVE AMERICAN CUISINE IN MOSCOW
This last year we saw the opening of a new and modern restaurant named “Chinook” offering Native American cuisine. The restaurant owes its name to a delicacy of the highest class: In Russia it’s one of the most valued of the red fish types, better known as the King Salmon, and in America – as it’s Native American name “Chinook”.
It is a wild fish and biggest type of Salmon in the world. “Chinook” is a joint project led by a young, ambitious team with extensive experience in the gastronomic, and service-oriented industry Andrey Nesterenko is the executive chef of the restaurant.
Did you always want to open a Native American restaurant? What interests you in this cuisine?
To be honest, I never thought about working on or in a restaurant with such a concept. It was all quite by chance. When the concept was set in stone, a period of reading tons of literature and watching documentaries began.
How did you find your way into cooking professionally?
Both my mother and grandmother were former cooks, and as I was a child they would jokingly say I was going to be a chef, but that was never really on my mind. After completing a program of higher education to become a financial expert, I was trying to find my way and was working in various different industries. I was a courier, a salesman at shops, worked in an advertising agency and also as a supplier. However, as fate would have it, I found my way into the kitchens of the restaurant “Melange” in Kiev under the leadership of Ruslan Kucherenko and head chef and manager Soroka Elena Alekseevna. There I found myself peeling potatoes, chopping garlic, shortly thereafter an official prep cook and that’s how it all began.
Tell us a bit about the Native American cuisine. How did you acquire all of this knowledge?
As a kid I was always into stuff like cowboys and indians, and drawn to Native American subjects. I enjoyed many books, the legends and loved to watch films about those times. As we were building the restaurant I had a good amount of time to revisit and learn even more about the Native American culture.
What are the main ingredients and products used in this cuisine?
The main ingredients in my kitchen are sweet potatoes, corn, black rice, squash, a lot of meat and of course Chinook Salmon.
How do you combine the dishes, for example with the Chinook salmon?
Salmon is a pretty versatile fish and fits well with both sweet and savory dishes. It’s quite easy and interesting to work with because it is so flexible in terms of flavour combinations.
Do all your purveyors originate in Russia?
The most are based in Russia. All of the meat served in the restaurant is Prime beef, and in my eyes, the best on the market. Almost all of the fruits come from the Dominican Republic. Acorns are ordered from Poland, because I bought all the ones that were in Moscow. (Laughs)
You also offer the Peruvian cuisine in the restaurant. What was behind the decision to integrate this cuisine?
Actually, we have moved away from the Peruvian cuisine because our concept has transitioned at the base level. Our focus is primarily on the Northern American indiginous cultures.
Is this the first time you have developed a restaurant from the foundations to the opening?
No, not the first time. The experience of developing a restaurant from the foundations to opening was already there. So I already knew the principles and how it should progress. Of course, since then I have learned a lot more with construction, design and engineering projects.
Were there any setbacks in the process? What would be great to know in advance?
I would love to know how to get people to do everything with quality and on time.
In your opinion, what qualities should a great chef have?
I think first and foremost, a good kitchen chef needs to be an excellent manager, coach and psychologist all in one person. Even for a very experienced chef, if you can not build proper management in the kitchen,it becomes very difficult to get ahead, develop and stay in tune. Also, the ability to put together a great team is very important!
If it’s not too confidential, what are your business plans for the future?
There are specific goals, but no plans. Everything is running as it should. I am more than happy with what I have at the moment.
The “Chinook” is a modern restaurant with 2 stories, (for 66 guests and 40 guests) an open kitchen and a separate bar for 50 people. A fascinating culinary adventure and an amazing opportunity to experience the cultural tastes of the American Indians without having to leave Moscow. A new destination for an unforgettable dinner with family or friends, a date, a celebration, a business function, a loud party or for a culinary Master Class.
Has the restaurant “Chinook” piqued your interest? Then check out more information on Instagram: Chefkoch@chef_andreynest, Restaurant@chinook.restaurant