Stanislav Bukhanov about being one-man band. Brand chef of restaurants in Siberia, leading expert in carving and professional food-stylist.
Stanislav started his career at the age of 13, becoming cook ‘s assistant in a Japanese restaurant. During study at the college he began to take an active part in the championships, interning and working in top restaurants in Moscow at the same time. The last few years he worked in Siberia with two projects – the restaurant at the hotel “Three Owls” at the ski resort Sheregesh in Kemerovo region and at the chain of restaurants Vladimirov Resto in Krasnoyarsk.
Stanislav, tell us a little about yourself. What is your hometown, where did you grow up, where did you study to cook?
I was born in St. Petersburg. In a childhood my sister and I moved to Stavropol, where we were living with our grandmother, while our parents worked in Moscow. Then we moved to them. I have studied to cook at the technology college №14 in Moscow. In my opinion, this is the best college in the city.
How did your career develop after your studies?
I started working as a cook at the age of thirteen, right after school, before I went to college. Then I studied and worked at the same time, I almost had no days off. I have been learning everything in the process of work.
As a student, I became involved in carving championships. I started working in the VIP-masters culinary school under the direction of Alexander Kislitsin. I worked there for about two years, helped to give classes on carving and chocolate. I also worked at the Nostalgie restaurant in Moscow. There was a period when I gave a large number of master classes in Russia in different regions.
I also took part in the cooking show “Real Food” and CHEF TREND as a food stylist. I worked for about 3 years on various projects related to food design. This helped me to develop a vision of how to serve a dish and to make it look beautiful. In addition, I was engaged in consulting with my own company PRIME CHEF.
Why did you decide to become a cook?
I have never had a big craving for cooking. At the same time, it was interesting for me to help my parents when we cooked food for the holidays together. My parents are sculptors and artists, creative people. Thanks to them I got a passion for art. I finished six classes of art school and thought that I would be a designer.
Once I saw interviews with restaurateurs Igor Bukharov and Anatoly Komm on TV, where they told about their work. It made a big impression on me, and I realized that I wanted to connect my life with the restaurant industry. I realized that I would be able to realize my potential in this area both as an artist and as a restaurateur in the future. I knew that this was not an easy path, and that I should become a cook in order to learn everything from the inside.
What projects are you working on now?
The last few years I have been working in Siberia. Now I am the brand-chef of the restaurant chain Vladimirov Resto in Krasnoyarsk. I have been working in this restaurant group for three years. Besides that, I am the brand chef of the Three Owls Hotel at the ski resort in Sheregesh in Kemerovo Region.
Since 2018, I joined the Jucker Farm team. This is a Swiss company, which has branches in Germany and Switzerland. This company has many different farms that produce milk, meat, vegetables. These farms have their own restaurants and exhibition parks in which we hold festivals in the fall season. I have many tasks on this project. For a few days I only do carving, on other days I just cook. I like it a lot because I constantly do different things. At the same time, we are not in one place, but we are moving from Germany to Switzerland and back. Therefore I plan to go to Germany every autumn to work on this project.
Are there any peculiarities in work in Siberia? Have you encountered any difficulties while working on projects in the region?
The biggest problem in Siberia is connected with products. It is very difficult to get fresh products here. I really like the nordic and northern cuisines. Here you can cook very interesting cuisine, but as a chef I am not satisfied with the quality of frozen products. Unfortunately, I cannot influence myself on product quality in Siberia.
For the past two years, we have been doing a great job of finding high-quality products. We are looking for the best vegetables, mushrooms, fresh venison and fern. The texture and taste of the products are very important to us, so we try and test everything. Every product goes through our thorough study and quality control. At the same time, suppliers cannot always guarantee consistent quality. That is why I have less time for creativity, because I have to look for products.
Another problem is the qualification of cooks. When we hire new people, we have to train almost everyone from scratch.
Nevertheless we have also positive moments. For example, people in Siberia like to eat tasty food, they eat a lot and love alcohol. For business it is good. We found a positive response among the guests when we began to organize gastro – dinners. People are very interested in it.
How can you appreciate gastronomic tastes of your guests?
People have begun to come to our hotel for the purpose of gastronomic tourism. Many people come to our ski resort not to ski, but to get a new gastronomic experience, to try interesting food. They live in the hotel for a week and visit our dinners every day. We have achieved very interesting result.
What approaches do you use in work with your team?
I develop my employees. We have our schedule and every Monday we watch a video dedicated to the service, we learn five English expressions and organize short meetings where we discuss current challenges and how we can solve it. I not only show the chefs how to properly serve the dishes, but also try to explain them the idea, the concept, why exactly this serving is now in trend. I need my cooks to think the same as me. Then my kitchen will be 100 % cool, the way I want it.
It is important to note that my team, which works at the ski resort, has seasonal work. They are like real sailors who come here in the taiga for the whole season from November to April. They work and live here. If you do not want to face psychological breakdowns of your employees, you need to competently manage the team and direct the energy of people in the right way. We often go with team to the forest and collect decor for our dishes – moss, cones, pine trees. For us, this is a real team building. We make sure that the team is always positive, that it is interesting for them to work and they want to return next season.
Tell me about your passion for carving. Why did you choose this field? Where did you study this?
I have been engaged in carving for more than 10 years. When I was 17 years old, and I was in college, the carving was developing. I realized that I really want to learn carving to be different. I wanted to be the best in this field. During my studies I realized that if I did not take part in the carving championship and didn’t do something extraordinary, no one would notice me and no one would know about me. At my first championship inside our college I took second place, then at the Russian championship I won first place. After that, people from restaurant industry began to pay attention to me. They started to invite me to participate in events. I realized that I already knew, and I could develop my functionality. Carving gave me the opportunity to realize my creative potential.
Later I began teaching carving for other chefs. I taught for about two years and taught about three hundred students from scratch to the professional level. After the course my students began to open their own carving schools. During this time I became a champion, taking a bronze, silver and gold medal at the championship in Erfurt, in Germany. I participated in all the famous carving competitions in Russia and everywhere won prizes.
Now I would like to develop in this direction, working abroad, because carving is in demand there. Abroad I have the freedom for my imagination and people help to realize my ideas.
For the last few years you spend most of time in Siberia, meanwhile your family live in Stavropol. How do you manage to keep a balance in work and personal life? Would you like to move to Stavropol and continue your work there?
The balance depends not only on me, but also on my wife, who supports me. For me the city in which my family lives is the city in which I rest. I want to come there and completely relax, not to think about work. I would not like to associate my career with Stavropol. Although the city has a great advantage. There are a lot of fresh and inexpensive products, meat, dairy products and vegetables. But I love Siberian cuisine and I like working in this complicated region.
Would you like your son to continue your business or you see another profession for him?
Of course, I would be happy if my son continued my business. I could give him all my knowledge. But I will completely accept his choice if he chooses some other profession. I believe that the greatest success is when a father transfers information, experience to his son and shares his failures. Then a person makes fewer mistakes, loses less time at the start of his career.
Thank you so much, Chef Stanislav!
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