Chef Restaurant Chef — Dmitry Shurshakov about the Russian-French gastronomic seasons
Russian-French gastronomic seasons — a joint initiative of restaurateurs of Russia and France.
In 2011, held the second time, in the best hotels and restaurants in Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo.
The goal of the project is to acquaint the French public with truly relevant Russian cooking.
Russian-French gastronomic seasons — this is how it was officially called.
But in fact, officialdom was very little and a lot of cooking in its purest form. In our case, it was just two people, me and my assistant, and from August 29 to September 3, inclusively worked in the kitchen of a classic French restaurant.
And the restaurant, located in an absolutely tourist place, is in Nice — that is, no jokes: guests order your dishes, pay money for them, and they should like them.
Everything is very serious.
And it was an experience for me that cannot be overestimated.
First of all, I understood what the French expect from us. They do not need any dancing, no explanation — they still understand in their own way.
That is, if a dish needs some explanations, they must be given — well, they do it all and always. But in general, they understand everything and are friendly.
Yes, this is the main thing: do not think that we are in their eyes some freaks, some underdeveloped. We are in the eyes of the French — carriers of an important culinary tradition, and they are absolutely not against this tradition to get acquainted.
Yes, they may disagree with something — well, this is normal, but on the whole, they all wonder what we are doing here and what we live.
Yes, a French gastronomic critic came.
I tried everything, praised everything, he liked everything.
Only we didn’t agree: he just yelled that carp is by no means a gastronomic fish. In France, it is generally a fad that there are gastronomic and non-gastronomic products. Say, foie gras, truffles — this is yes, and carp — no, by no means.
But Scandinavians proved that you can work with anything, even with moss, even with cloudberries.
So the French need to somehow break themselves, or something.
Then it turned out that the critic simply does not like this carp — it just does not like the taste.
Products there are very different. Elemental gelatin, for example.
We in Moscow use German, we are accustomed to it, and here the French — at first it does not freeze at all, and then it sets like cement. Some products I had to replace something, invent something on the go. Cod liver, which we successfully use here in canned form, is a super-product, but the French throw it away.
They brought me fresh cod liver, I saw it for the first time in my life — how to cook? what to do with it?
Nothing, processed in peanut butter, turned out beauty. Cheese fresh and could not find exactly what you need — they took the youngest chevre, almost cottage cheese. Bitter chocolate — twelve kinds, try to choose!
With the mushrooms it was funny.
They bring eight kinds, ask “what do you need specifically?” I took all eight.
Kitchen equipment is good, but some things that are obvious to us are simply not there. No grinder, no juicer.
I ask: “And what, do not you order freshness from you?” They answer: “No, we have water here and wine”.
Someone brought the meat grinder from the house, remember, there were such — you twist the handle, and the stuffing comes out.
Juicer confectioner Pascal brought.
Yes, still fresh eggs in their restaurant kitchen can not be by definition. Only separated come, separately proteins and separately yolks.
Such a law. Conveniently, of course, but I needed fresh squirrels — I brought fresh eggs, separated the whites from the yolks, and said, “I’m sorry, I have to.”
Nothing happened without scandal.
In general, we approximately on the third day adapted both to the kitchen and to the products. The two of us came to the clock when the kitchen was empty, from three to seven, to a siesta, and did everything we needed.
All had time.
French colleagues — without their support, nothing would have happened. We put that cod liver for the night in a convection oven at a low temperature, and early in the morning some more manipulations had to be done with them — this was the morning shift, we just asked once and explained once.
In general, no one forgets anything, everything is done thoroughly. And everyone treats with understanding — people came to someone else’s kitchen, you need help.
Sebastian Broda, chief, said: “I understand you. I think, but how I would come to your kitchen — probably, I would only look around for two days. ” Although it is, I think, for the sake of a word of wit; cool chef.
They generally have an iron, reinforced concrete rule that the chef should cook himself — and he is not ashamed to clean the vegetables.
I really like it a lot.
There was one overlay with waiters. Our tour began on Monday, and by Wednesday, I see, they are ordering worse and worse.
I went to the head waiter, asking: what, the waiters advise our menu?
It turned out that no — not out of malice, but because the waiters are not very aware of what we offer.
That is, they do not have tastings for waiters. The Maitre d’hote gathered them all at five minutes, I conducted a tasting, explained everything — the waiters were shocked, but by Saturday the guests ordered fifty to fifty dishes from the main menu and from our offer.
This is very cool, yes.
Strange thing, but in France there is no understanding that in the heat it is necessary to prepare some special dishes. And I made just such a menu for the heat. Eggplant caviar with cold fondue went straight on.
Beet gazpacho with mustard ice cream, too. Because at plus thirty I do not want to eat lamb stew, but I want something like this, something fresh.
We in “The Seagull” make almost the same menu, well, a little bit more subtly.
Cote d’Azur is a place where Russians have been known for quite some time. There are plenty of Russians there.
The main hit of the season — Yolka, the song «Provence», is being played everywhere. But you understand what the resulting stereotypes. Different, yes.
And at the farewell dinner, I said that I very much hope that now the French have seen another face of Russia. Yes, I really think so.
No, in fact, how else?
If you work without such a supertask, then it is better not to work.