What does Azerbaijani cuisine mean? Sarkhan Mammadov Executive Chef at Marxal Resort & Spa in Azerbaijan, will let us know.

Sarkhan Mammadov is a executive chef with a degree from an architecture and engineering university. We have met him.


You are a very experienced Executive Chef, with a degree from an architecture and engineering university. What prompted you to switch to the chef profession?


As I was studying at the University of Architecture and Engineering, I felt I was still looking for the right job, I ended up working as a dishwasher sort of by accident at one of the newly-opened hotels in the area. On my first day the chef told me I have real “chef’s hands” and I have a future. I offered to train me, so I started taking my first steps towards becoming a chef on that day.


Where do you find your passion for being a chef?


Passion is very different for everyone. Some people choose this art form to make money, but that has never crossed my mind. Being a chef is impossible without love for what you are doing. During holidays everyone wants to enjoy a great meal with their families, and if a chef is working hard in the kitchen, that is love for the work.



Currently you work as Executive Chef of the Marxal Resort in Azerbaijan. What is your culinary set up there?


I am the kitchen manager and executive chef of the entire complex, which is a very large area. We offer international cuisine throughout the entire complex including “Nuxa Restaurant” which showcases our national cuisine, but we have various restaurants, kitchens and varieties available.



Iran, Turkey, Georgia, Russia and the Caspian Sea surround Azerbaijan. How do these neighbors influence the kitchens of Azerbaijan?


Azerbaijani cuisine is above all else full of richness and diversity. Interestingly, neighboring countries love Azerbaijani cuisine as their own. For example, I can say that there are plenty of dishes similar to our pilaf but only our types of pilafs utilize the art of baking.


How would you describe the best food in Azerbaijan?


Years later, I can still taste in my mind my grandmothers food she cooked for me as a baby. This is Azerbaijani cuisine, flavors that persist throughout the years.


How has the kitchen changed these days?


In some restaurants, any cooking method can be switched or altered to a customers wish, but the Azerbaijani cuisine keeps its flavors, heritage and tradition.



How would you describe your own culinary style?


I would say with my food, there is a special kind of magic. For example, how can you impress an Italian guest with pizza or pasta when they are his main meals? It’s possible in my kitchen.


Can you share some of your favorite creations with us?


It’s not my creation exactly, but I have a very special approach to the dish “Fish Piroqu”.



Do you have a special cooking techniques?


I often like to utilize low temperatures and extensive time techniques in my ovens, this always seems to yield exceptional results.


Do you use any lesser-known or rare Azerbaijani spices in your cooking?


I enjoy using saffron, fennel seed, kekikotu, nan, reyhan and some others.



If you could write a cookbook on Azerbaijani cuisine, what would it be about?


I’m actually thinking about doing that and am in the middle of some initial planning. In any case the name of the book will be ‘Chef Sarkhan’s Delicious Dishes’.


Thank you Sarkhan Mammadov.


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