Born in 1973 in St. Petersburg. Studied to be a mechanic at Tallinn maritime school, graduating in 1992. Following that, Shmakov’s career did a backflip, and he began to work as a cook at passenger liners, Tallinn’s restaurants, and major international hotels. He apprenticed at Noma in Copenhagen and Chez Dominique in Helsinki. Hosted MasterChef.Kids project at Russia's STS TV channel. Beginning in 2022, Andrey takes part in the Chef on Wheels TV show. He’s been the brand chef of Hotel Metropol since 2013 and has headed the kitchen of Savva restaurant since 2015. Winner of international awards, recognized by professional rankings and restaurant guides.

I began to cook because I was often sick when I was small and would stay home. My grandmother would shape pelmeni, make belyash pastries, ferment the cabbage, salt the codfish liver — and I would help her. And when I was 13, I told my mother that I want to be a cook. Today, chefs are the new rock stars, but in 1986, at Tallinn, where I was growing up, it wasn’t a prestigious profession. My mother tried to dissuade me, “Come on, tell me, who else do you want to be?” But I was adamant: “I want to be a cook — and I will be a cook on a passenger vessel.” “What a great word, vessel,” my mother said. “Go to the maritime school, they will knock this nonsense out of you.” I graduated from the Tallinn Maritime School as a 3rd grade mechanic. The year was 1992. The Soviet Union has just been dissolved. Even mature experienced mechanics couldn’t get a job at Estonian Shipping Company at that time. I went to the company that contracted sailors to work on foreign vessels and I was immediately sent on a voyage. But at the ship, I was told: “We don’t need a mechanic at the moment, we’ll take you as a cook’s assistant.” And that determined the rest of my life. My first vessel was an LNG carrier that went from Dubai to Bombay. My first chef was Ildar from Omsk who taught me to cook and to understand what taste is. With time, I learned about Gordon Ramsey, began to follow the great chefs. I decided that I want to become a chef. I found out about Michelin. And I realized that I want that star. When we stopped at some port, I would go to the bookstores, go to the Gastronomy shelf, choose some book there, and buy it. And if I didn’t have money, I would write down the recipes into a notebook right there, at the store. At 27, I went ashore. By that time, I was already a chef at passenger liners. But if I stayed at sea, I would continue cooking simple food, and I needed to grow professionally. And then, because I needed to grow professionally, I ended up in Russia: Tallinn, where I was a chef and opened several restaurants, had become too small for me. I was working in St. Petersburg, at Laplandia restaurant, when I was told that there is this Metropol Hotel in Moscow, it was just bought recently, and the new owners are looking for a chef — “a person who knows European cuisine, who knows what is happening in the restaurant world, but who has a Russian soul.” I went to Moscow, did a tasting presentation — and I’ve been working here for 10 years already. I became the hotel’s brand chef — that’s the person responsible for all the hotel’s eating spots. I created all the banquet menus; we changed all the breakfast menus. And then, six months later, I looked at one of the banquet halls and told the owner that I like this place a lot, and we should open a restaurant there. He told me: “Let’s do it. Think about what it should be, how it should be called.” That’s how the restaurant was born and we decided to call it Savva, in honor of philanthropist Savva Mamontov, the lover of arts, the patron of artists, musicians, singers, poets, the man who envisioned and built Metropol. We opened Savva in 2015, and it worked through the end of 2018, when we closed it for reconstruction. Because of the pandemic, the opening was delayed for almost two years. We re-opened in 2020, and next year, Michelin’s inspectors finally came to Moscow, and we received a star. I was 23 when I learned about Michelin. And I spent my whole life pursuing this star. It’s like a girl who was taken to the gymnastics school at the age of four: she falls, she has strained muscles, she cries, she sees other girls going to the Olympics — and then she grows up, goes to the Olympics herself, and earns the gold. The drive towards victory is the most important thing. I had this drive. Because I am goal-oriented and hungry for knowledge. And I’m crazy about my work. I pursued this star all my life. And when I received it, I ticked the box, and the very next day, I continued to work just as I did before Michelin. But I did it, I created this star for myself.

Guide restaurants with Andrey Shmakov participation