Evgeny Vikentiev – Russian-born Chef is now cooking in Berlin
Evgeny Vikentiev – experimental chef and one of the brightest representatives of modern Russian cuisine. His kitchen is built on a modern approach, new techniques and local seasonal products. To date, he is the head chef of the Hamlet + Jacks restaurants in St. Petersburg and the Wine Cabinet, and recently opened the Cell Restaurant in Berlin. His story.
Evgeny Vikentiev – Chef’s Portrait
Evgeny, how and when did you decide to become a cook?
I loved to cook since childhood. Then I decided that it is possible to transform your love from childhood into something that would further do this. I have modern parents, you can almost say they are “Foodies”. They love to cook and know a lot about food. This also greatly influenced the choice of my profession.
Today, Evgeny Vikentiev managed to work in the kitchens of St. Petersburg Il Palazzo, La Maree, Grato, EM Volna and undergo internships in Michelin-owned Il Vescovado Giuseppe Rickebono and 41 * experience Albert Adria.
Until you opened your restaurant, you worked in many different restaurants. Based on your experience, what can you advise to career-minded beginners?
Choose places not based on what money in this institution can be earned, but solely rely on valuable experience and the kind of knowledge you can take out..
It is necessary to gain experience as quickly as possible. Work with strong staff, good advanced chefs, who can motivate them for further development and activities, and provide the necessary knowledge base that can be used already in independent navigation.
Which internship or work experience was the most experienced?
It’s hard to say. As mentioned above, all internships provide some knowledge, a boost of energy. All internships were variously steep and without them, of course, it would be hard to do something if you don’t see how it is done in the West.
In Russia now, too, there is a good level of restaurants, and it is growing very quickly. But just try it as it happens there to compare and carry out something for yourself.
All internships are good, you need to choose a Chef that suits you in spirit. Write him a message that you want to learn from him, and be sure to go and do not hesitate.
October 30, he opened a new restaurant “CELL” in Berlin. Fine Dining institution in Charlottenburg.
I originally liked Berlin. The concept of my institution is based on the fact that I want to work not only with local ingredients, but also to bring their different tastes and influences from around the world in order to unlock the potential of a local product.
Berlin is a big metropolis where a lot of nationalities live. I wanted to put together a team consisting of completely different chefs, and from different countries and each of them could bring something new and interesting aspects. Berlin is a fairly open city to everything.
I also like the number of art events in Berlin, the place is very advanced in terms of modern art. I closely intertwine my gastronomy with other art forms and the atmosphere of Berlin is the most suitable for this.
What is the culinary set up of the restaurant?
I have two menus. The first is called “Time Steps” and the second is “Roots Religion”.
“Time Steps” is a seasonal menu with the best products that we can collect from local farmers and reveal them from a global point of view in their dishes. Also, one ingredient from one dish goes into the next one showing the transition of the season, time is tying everything together.
Our love for vegetables is realized in the “Roots Religion”. This is a vegetarian part of our menu with vegetables, dairy products, cheeses, but without the use of meat and poultry.
You know how to cook cuisines from different countries, what kind of cuisine do you like to cook most and why?
It’s somehow a bit difficult for me to define a cuisine by nationality. I worked in different restaurants, for example, in an Italian restaurant and in a Mediterranean restaurant in St. Petersburg. But if it will be determined by which countries I like to cook, it is difficult for me. I love to just cook. I became a chef quite early and chose my direction in which I work now.
In terms of consumption, I like Mexican and all kind of Asian cuisine. This is what I eat if I have a free minute or have a weekend and I go to dinner with my wife.
What are your favorite products?
I do not have a single favorite product, I like all the products and it is difficult to single out one of them or a number of products.
That is, any good, cool, seasonal product that is sustainably growned and being in my kitchen is my “favorite” product. By this I cannot make favorites.
There are, of course, ingredients with which it is easier to work, while others are more difficult, well, in general, there is no such thing that I would single out, but some would not like.
All this is like paints or notes. All of them are necessary in order to create some kind of finished composition, in this case a gastronomic one.
You cook with regional products. Has it always been so important to you?
Since I became a chef, it has become important for me to cook with regional products. We began to do this, long before we had bans on the importation of foreign products, an embargo.
It is interesting and cool. First, we can get, for example, fresh fish, meat without the use of frost.
In Germany, I do not use frozen food at all. That is, basically there is no single frozen product that I use in my kitchen. Of course, you can only be happy about that!
It is also important to use local products. Again, for example, if a restaurant is located in a tourist city, like Berlin or St. Petersburg, then people who come to visit us are interested in trying something that grows with us. Well, working with the products of the country where you are located, you develop its gastronomic history, create a new round in its development.
What are your future plans?
So far, I have a just one plan: to finish my Berlin restaurant to make it work in full. Because the project is not simple and completely new and therefore requires the infusion of great powers and energy. Otherwise nothing will come of it. Of course, now I have only plans for it. And it’s too early to talk about the future.
Thank you, Eugene!
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