VLADIMIR OLKINITSKY – ADEPT OF THE URAL CUISINE: IF YOU BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU DO, SOONER OR LATER YOU WILL SUCCEED
Vladimir Olkinitsky adept of the ural cuisine. If you believe in what you do, sooner or later you will succeed. Read this interesting story.
How did you manage to become the most famous chef in Yekaterinburg?
I do not know if I am the most famous or not. I have never refused to participate in all the events that I was invited like forums, competitions, exhibitions. After a while people began to talk about me a lot.
Who took the initiative? Did you find out about events or you were invited?
Since 2009, I began actively visit exhibitions, competitions and after that people began to invite me for master classes. In 2013, I opened my own restaurant «Polecafe». It was very famous, Russian magazines wrote about this place. I was the first chef in Yekaterinburg, who opened a restaurant himself. After that, a wave of popularity began.
How conscious was your career choice?
This choice was not conscious at all. I did not even think. I finished 11th grade at school, I was not going to enter anywhere. Parents sent me to study at the culinary school. For me it was unexpected. I went, passed the exams and entered this college. After 2-3 years, I became involved and got a passion for cooking. At the very beginning I did not want to be a cook.
How did you get the passion to cook?
I started working as cook in 1999. In 2003-2004, I was invited to the restaurant “Troekurov”. This is the most famous Russian cuisine restaurant in Yekaterinburg. The chef who is still working there cultivated love of cooking, food and taught me everything.
How did you get to study in Norway?
In Yekaterinburg in 2013 there was a competition. The main prize was a trip to Norway. And I won it. I went to study at the Norwegian Gastronomic Institute in the city of Stavanger. We spent several days in different places where we attended workshops and got to know everything.
Is there any difference in the approach to culinary education in Russia and abroad? What is it?
Of course, there is a difference, and it is enormous. These are completely two different worlds, and everything is completely different. In Norway, I was a few days on the educational program. There is a different attitude to products, other techniques of cooking and using products.
What have you learned in Norway? And how did new knowledge influence your work later?
There I was taught to respect the products, that everything needs to be used. Zero waste production has become very popular in our country nowadays. I discovered new equipment, learned about new combinations of products, what can I do with them. After this trip, my idea of cooking changed dramatically. 80 % of what I knew before this trip, I had to forget safely. Right after Norway I opened my own restaurant, because I wanted to cook the way I saw it, how it could be done differently, in a new way.
And what approaches, besides conscious consumption, do you use in your work?
These are the principles of seasonality and locality, which determine when and which products are best to use. The dish that guest receives at restaurant should tell him about where he is, the time of the year and which country it is.
Tell us about your experience of participating in the television project “Battle of the Chefs”
The “Battle of the Chefs” project was a completely new experience for me, because I don’t like shooting and working in front of the camera. I participated in two battles, in the first I won, and the second I lost. In the first battle, each cook had to prepare three different dishes in an hour. In each of the dishes we had to use the selected product – it was cheese. It was necessary to choose three types of cheese. In the second battle, the main product was pork.
I was not aiming to win at that moment, because I treated it like a TV show. Later I learned that, it was possible to get into the next stage.
What project are you working on now?
Now I am preparing a menu for a wine bar in Yekaterinburg. I’m also working on the launch of my new project.
What will be the concept of your new restaurant?
The basic idea is to use an open fire. Many dishes will be cooked with it. It will be an affordable and understandable food with an interesting modern form of serving.
You are known as an adept of the Ural cuisine. What is Ural cuisine for you? Are you trying to develop this cuisine in your projects and how?
Ural cuisine for me now is like a personal brand. I worked a lot on the Ural cuisine, traveled around our region and searched for different recipes. For me, the Ural cuisine is food prepared from Ural products by Ural chefs in the Ural region. Those local recipes that were used earlier are already hard to reproduce. Now you can use some technologies and elements of those times. My task is to rethink old recipes and present them in a modern way, which the guest want to buy.
What are your favorites among local products of the Ural?
I love pickles, sour cabbage. In the Ural, there is such a cabbage, that you cannot find anywhere else, either in Moscow or in other regions. I love salty milk mushrooms. This is what I would have been proud of when we talk about the Ural food. It is also forest game, roe deer, elk.
Where do you buy it?
At the market. There are people who have been working with these products for many years, I trust the quality and know what I am buying.
Can you name the local unique dishes of the Ural cuisine, which could surprise even a Moscow guest?
It is difficult to say, since many of our dishes can be found everywhere in other regions of Russia. The same famous Ural dumplings will not differ from any other dumplings. I would emphasize the Ural potato shanga made from sour cream dough. It is a small open pie. This is a truly Ural product, which, with an interesting presentation, can surprise even guests from the capitals.
What advice would you give to chefs from other regions who want to develop their local cuisine?
I would advise not to be afraid, to try, experiment, communicate with the older generation. When I traveled around the region, I talked with old women. They told me how and from what ingredients they used to cook. We must not be afraid of new combinations. We should base on the traditions and do something new.
Previously, many people told me that Ural cuisine did not exist and it would be difficult to sell it to guests. But I think I managed to do it. At first it was unprofitable. Guests preferred to go and try Japanese, Italian, Uzbek cuisine. Few people chose Ural cuisine. Promoting local cuisine is not so easy, you need to be prepared for this, you may have to sacrifice something. If you believe in what you do, then sooner or later everything will turn out.
How has Ural restaurant industry changed in the past 5 years? What restaurants can you recommend?
The market is developing. Every month new restaurants with an interesting concept are being opened. There are new participants from other cities – Novosibirsk, Tyumen, Moscow. I would recommend such restaurants as Cibo, Barboris, Gastroli, Soika, Metis.
What trends can you name?
Now there are many places with an Asian focus. For example, the Tao restaurant with modern Asian cuisine. I plan to go there soon.
Thank you! Good luck with your new project!
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