Sergey Miroshnikov – chef of restaurant KITCHEN in Yekaterinburg
Sergey Miroshnikov is a chef from Donetsk, who lives and works for several years now in Ekaterinburg and continually discovers Ural values, studying not only the local products and cuisine, but also the culture of the region, its nature, people, identity.
Sergey, why did you decide to become a chef?
In a childhood, my parents told me that you need to do what you are good at. At school, I had no interest in either cars or electronics. The only thing I knew how to do well was cooking. In my family, everyone cooks, my mom and dad. I was taught that both men and women should have this skill. At the age of 11, I started cooking and feeding my family after work.
How many years have you been a cook?
I graduated from the culinary college, then entered university and immediately went to work on the sixth day. Since then I have been working in the kitchen for about eight years.
Why did you decide to leave Ukraine and move to Russia?
I left after the beginning of sad events in our country. Before I left Ukraine for Russia, I managed to work for a year and a half as a cook and every six months I changed my area of responsibility. So, I worked on all parts of the kitchen and got a good experience. I was invited to work in Sochi, and at the age of 19 I had to head a restaurant. The manager and the chef had a falling out, the chef left, and I took his responsibilities upon myself. It was a difficult process, since my team consisted of very experienced old-school chefs, who were 40 years old. The most difficult thing for me was to win the authority of mature cooks.
What did you take from this experience?
I realized that the most important thing is an individual approach to everyone. It is very important to communicate with people correctly. A team is generally the most important thing that exists. If you are in the circumstances when you cannot change a team, make it suitable for you. I began to make my relationship with every member of the team. This experience taught me to be flexible. In that short period, everything worked out for me and it was a great progress. I took work at home and did not sleep at night. For me it was the door to the big world, and I tried very hard to do everything efficiently.
What project are you working on now?
I work as a chef in restaurant KITCHEN in Ekaterinburg. I came to an already working restaurant and I got certain problems that needed to be resolved very quickly. I can compare this with the leaky boat into which you were put and you need not only to row, but also to bail out the water.
What are the features of the project KITCHEN? What makes it different from other places?
The concept of this restaurant was originally built around jerked beef. We were the first in the Ural region trying to reproduce the Italian and Spanish delicacy groups and add local items in the form of marinades for the pickle. In the center of the restaurant we have a large room in which we successfully make products such as jamon, chorizo, bresaola and venison. During the year, we learned to do a lot of things according to the recipes of our Spanish and Italian colleagues. Many people from different regions of Russia come to our restaurant for internship.
We also try to add more interesting local positions to the menu. For example, we have Chelyabinsk pike perch with kelp sauce and fried fern. This is a local fish with algae that grows in the water and together they represent the watery element, so one dish tells a certain story. In this dish there is a lot of zinc, which helps fight the radiation background, because the environment is very bad in the Urals. Therefore, this dish was designed specifically for the Uralian people. This taste you can try only here.
I also go to the forest and collect fir branches, on which we fry potatoes. It gives a local taste to the dish, this is our signature. Our restaurant actively uses the principle of locality.
Tell us about the forest dinners that you organize. What is it?
This is one of our new directions. We go out with the guests to the forest, collect the various ingredients for our future dishes and then prepare them together. It may be different roots, young foliage, cones.
Now, many chefs are so similar because they use the same modern equipment and new technologies. I decided to turn to the old techniques and to draw people’s attention to unusual products. For example, at one of our dinners, we cooked dishes in clay, baked fish in ashes in a cooling ash. The fish is filled with ash and cooked for a long time at a very low temperature. Due to this, it becomes very gentle. To give the dishes a forest flavor, I smoked them using pine needles. Our winter dinner was held in a wooden guest house. We cooked food in the fireplace and on the grill.
We take our guests out of the city and return them to forgotten values and techniques. After these dinners guests feel themselves very inspired and relaxed. Such a pleasure cannot be obtained from a simple meal in a restaurant. And the most important thing is that everyone can feel involved in something new, big and interesting.
What inspires you to create new dishes?
I often visit various art exhibitions and study how artists convey colors in their works. Then I try to bring this vision to the plate. Artists are learning colors, geometry, architecture, and cooks do not know a lot about this.
Are there any interesting types of serving that you use in your dishes?
Once I visited an exhibition of stones, where I was insanely inspired by the creations of our nature. These were semiprecious stones of the Ural region. For example, there was jasper, which is mined in the Ural region, it is considered the most valuable in the world.
After the exhibition, I went in search of the person who can make for us a line of plates from stone. I had an idea to serve dishes on the stones to remind guests and townspeople about how their city was built and to emphasize the perception of food, which can only be obtained in the Urals. I selected all the stones for our dishes personally.
Where do you buy products for a restaurant?
Products are my headache, as I am limited by the legal framework, logistics and other circumstances. For example, now we are launching a new menu, and for two weeks I was looking for a homemade chicken, from which it would be possible to make special consomme. I found a supplier, but was forced to refuse, since he could not prepare all the official documents for this product. I often drive myself around the small shops in the city, looking for interesting products, and then giving the task to colleagues to find the same product from suppliers. This is an important job with every single product. First we approve a quality product, then we are looking for someone who can deliver it to us without interruption and with a good price, and then we introduce this product into the menu.
How do you feel about farm products? Do you use it in your kitchen and which ones?
There are not so many farms. Almost none of them can provide the necessary documents and offer us favorable prices and delivery terms. Therefore, we practically do not use farm products. There is no state support of farming in the region.
Which chef would you like to cook with in the same kitchen?
I would like to work with Heston Blumenthal. At the beginning of my journey, he was the first standard for me. He was one of the first chefs who began to combine cooking and creativity with numbers and exact sciences. A person comes to work in a complex, it is a sign of professionalism.
What advice would you give to a young cook?
My advice to young cook is to try to get into the best place in the city, in the country, and do not look at the position. At the very beginning you need to get to place with high level of professionalism. Thus, a person sets a high standard, which he will raise in the process of life. The second advice is not to be lazy and study professional literature.
Sergey, thank you for the interview!
What is your plan for your future as a chef?
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