Born in Morocco. Graduated from Moscow State University of Nature Development. Brand chef of Sumosan chain of restaurants and co-owner of Buba by Sumosan chain. Speaks seven languages. For over 15 years, he’s been cooking at Chelsea FC home games. In 2019, for two weeks cooked at the first Winter at Tantora festival at Al-‘Ula, Saudi Arabia.

I came to Moscow in November of 1992. It was scary, but I really wanted to leave Morocco and try to live on my own. I studied hydromelioration at the institute at Timiryazevskaya metro station, and some acquaintances helped me to get a job as a dishwasher at a Japanese restaurant. That’s how I was introduced to the Japanese cuisine. Finding a job in 1994 was close to impossible even for Russians, and even harder for the foreigners. Work was hard. But I was lucky because I spoke English, and the restaurant had Japanese cooks who had their interpreter from Japanese to English, and we could communicate. I earned 200 dollars a month and looked with admiring envy at the kitchen hands who earned 100 dollars more. I thought to myself, why don’t I learn as well? The chef told me: “If you want, go, look, help. But your main job is dishwashing.” Before that, I didn’t even know that I can cook. And now here I was, approaching the guys, asking questions, looking, trying. Some told me to get lost — they were worried about losing their job to me. But I am a kind of a person who doesn’t like to lose. And I set a task for myself: if others know what the Japanese are teaching them, I will know that as well. And I managed to become first a kitchen help, and then a cook. I like solving problems that are almost impossible to solve. In late 1997, I was introduced to Sumosan. At that time, they had a Korean chef. Once again, knowing English helped me a lot. I started out as a cook, then became a sous-chef. When Sumosan had just opened, many consultants came from Japan to Moscow because we were doing something that other restaurants didn’t do. We had a great chef and I wanted to soak it all up. By that time, I was already passionate about the Japanese cuisine. My main achievement in Russia is that I became the chef specifically at Sumosan. I wanted to prove, to show to everyone that I can achieve things that nobody else could achieve. We really worked a lot. But it was work that brought pleasure. There is a big difference between working with pleasure and working because you are forced to. We brought to Moscow things that haven’t been available here before: in terms of service, in terms of food, in terms of products, in terms of quality. We had the task of giving people an experience that they haven’t seen in Moscow. It was mind blowing. We had our own logistics. We received our products two-three times a week. And if other places served California sushi rolls with imitation crab, we were the first to make them with real crab meat. If people ate frozen salmon, we were the first to bring fresh salmon to Moscow. If people ate colored tuna, we were the first to bring the real stuff to Moscow. We were always the first. I can vouch for that. If somebody wants to argue, I’m ready. Restaurateur Alexander Volkov had this vision from the very first day — he wanted to bring Sumosan to London. His daughter Janina who lived in London and wanted to open a restaurant there said that she needed my help. That’s how I, a self-taught cook, who learned everything from the consultants in Moscow, moved to England to open a restaurant and make a name for myself among great chefs. For me, it was a great challenge. London is another world. The clients are different, there are other great chefs to whom I’ll be compared. I had to jump to a very different level. We opened in May 2002, and thank God, we are still doing pretty well there. These days, I mostly live in the airplanes. Many vendors with whom I work deliver products around the world. It’s very important for me that the quality of dishes is the same at every Sumosan. In Dubai, Courchevel, London, or Moscow you will find people who know and love us. And this gives me the energy that supports me. I love what I’m doing.

Guide restaurants with Bubker Belkhit  participation