Nikoleta Koleva – experienced chef with an originally degree in business administration. Read her Story here.

 

You are an experience chef; with an originally degree in Business administration. Why did you “entered” the culinary world?

I used to work in the corporate world but at one point I had some sort of existential crisis and started questioning my life and the future. I decided that I needed a big change so I moved to China to work as an English teacher. I guess it doesn’t get bigger than this. There I found the food distasteful; therefore I had no choice but to learn to cook. I discovered that I enjoyed it. A friend, who was a chef and an owner of an Italian restaurant, gave me the opportunity to be an apprentice in his kitchen. I loved the environment. Later I decided to become vegetarian and to move to Malaysia for work as I heard good thing about the people and the country.

 

In Malaysia you gained experiences as vegetarian and vegan chef. What was your greatest learning out of this time as chef in Malaysia?

In Malaysia I worked in many places with many different people from all over the world. I worked very hard for many hours but I knew that it was the thing for me. Although at the beginning I cooked with meat it was hard for me as my lifestyle changed. Despite the fact that it was hard to gain experience I wanted not to cook meat any longer. Perhaps that greates experience was being bold with spices and flavours as most of the people that I worked were Asians and they enjoyed and used a lot of spices. I can make a curry or dal in 10 min and my fried rice can impress any picky Asian taste.

 

 

Back in Bulgaria you kept cooking as vegetarian and vegan chef. Being a vegetarian chef is not easy; being a vegan chef makes it even more difficult. What is most difficult to cook vegan?

Because most of my woking experience was in Asia where tipicaly ovens are not used, therefore vegan pastry is still a struggle.

 

You gained experience as well as Executive Chef in Romania. What are the major differences between the Bulgarian and Romania kitchen?

Not so many differences, only I found the Romanian cuisine too plain with more North and North-Eastern European influences. Bulgarian cuisine is extremely influenced by the Greek and Turkesh.

 

Today you offer culinary classes on raw food, with Food connection Cooking School in Sofia, Bulgaria. What is the concept behind?

It is a great place. It is a culinary school for amateurs and food enthusiasts. I also had a lot of professionals coming to gain experience. There are different themes from ethnique cuisines to pastry and pasta making. People cook together and then eat what they made.
I am grateful that there is a high demand on my classes.

 

How would you describe your culinary style today?

I use influences from Asia and Mediterranean style of cooking. I am more oriented towards raw chocolate and raw dessert making.

 

 

Can you share 1,2.. of your actual favourite recipes/ dishes with us?

Recipe for Raw Chocolate Truffles with Creamy Peanut Praline Filling
Ingredients :
For peanut cream

  • 30 g (3 Tbls) of cocoa butter melted
  • 20 g (2 Tbls) of coconut oil melted
  • 100 g of peanut tahini
  • 2 Tbls coconut flour
  • 1 Tbls lucuma (optional)
  • 2 Tbls honey or other sweetener of choice 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • pinch of salt
  • 50 g roasted peanuts crushed finely for crunch and decoration
  • For raw chocolate (base)
  • 200 g cocoa butter
  • 150 g raw cocoa powder
  • 100 g sweetener of choice
  • ¼ tsp salt

The cream: blend all the ingredients together, except the crushed peanuts, until they are completely incorporated. Mix in by hand the crushed peanuts, leaving about 1 tbsp. for decoration in the end. Allow the cream to set in the freezer for about 20 minutes so you can easily work with it. Then shape into balls. Put on a tray covered with a baking sheet. Leave them in the refrigerator again to set while making the chocolate.

The chocolate:blend all the ingredients in a bowl. Chocolate should not be too dense to be easily enrobe the filling. Using a fork, immerse the ball in the bowl and remove it by leaving the excess leak. Do not drag the fork to the wall of the bowl. Gently pull the fork on the edge of the bowl and put the finished truffle on the paper. Sprinkle with roasted peanuts before chocolate becames matt. Repeat the process. When you finish enrobing, let them first set at room temperature to avoid cracking and, if necessary, refrigerating for 10 minutes. You can enrobe your chocolate once again once it’s set for a thicker chocolate coating.

Storage: up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

 

Any place in the world you would like to work as chef one day?

I am always happy to be back in Asia. Apart from there any other place except the very cold northern parts of the world.

 

Nikoleta Koleva, thank you