Evgeny studied cooking at a Moscow culinary college, but he always says that his gastronomic worldview was greatly influenced by his grandfather who lived in a Smolensk Region village. His career history includes apprenticeships in the French restaurant Le Mas Candille and at Hong Kong’s Mott 32, as well as the position of chef de cuisine at Volen Sports Park in Moscow Region and Poehali (Let’s Go!) restaurant. Evgeny is the brand chef of Moscow and Siberian branches of SiberiaSiberia restaurant. Among his more exotic skills is organization of a 400-person New Year’s Eve dinner at one of Monte Carlo casinos, when Evgeny flew from Moscow along with 1,500 kg of foodstuffs.

I am in charge of three SiberiaSiberia restaurants, in Moscow, Tyumen, and Novosibirsk. Their menus are 70% identical, but there are certain regional differences. For example, in Tyumen, 30% of dishes on the menu are cooked in a wood-fired stove. In Moscow and Novosibirsk, we don’t have one. The public is pretty much the same: Tyumen has rather well-to-do residents, in Novosibirsk, this is basically the only such restaurant in the city. As for Moscow — well, it’s Moscow.

As a boy and teenager, I would spend four or five months a year in Smolensk Region, living with my grandfather in a village. That’s where I fell in love with fishing and hunting and learned to cook some things on an open fire. The village is in a deep forest, there’s only one house there, my grandfather’s. He still lives there today. It’s seven kilometers to the nearest village — hard to take regular trips to the shop. So, we had to often cook with game, with fish, and with whatever we grew ourselves. Of course, we didn’t cook anything fancy, but for my restaurant career everything about working with game came in very handy.

SiberiaSiberia is about Russian cuisine from many regions, in particular, the northern ones. Some of the recipes we know from childhood, some we probably saw in the movies. But the majority of recipes come from encyclopedias and books that were published during the Soviet years.

The most popular entrées that I created are, probably, roasted venison and braised boar with pearl barley: a salute of sorts to my grandfather who taught me to understand the meat well.

Many guests are interested in trying out stroganina (shavings of frozen fish or meat) that they read about in the books. Or Indigirka salad — a very-very old Yakut dish. Obviously, both the stroganina and Indigirka are not the fruit of my labors, these are traditional Northern cold appetizers. There is Indigirka River, and that’s where people began making this dish by cubing frozen fish and mixing it with cooking oil, salt, black pepper, and onions.

I am a working chef. I’m not about sitting around and working with the documents. I like to be at the stove, in the kitchen, I want to know and understand everything. If you are not at the kitchen, you are not in charge of it because you know nothing about it.

I often talk to the guests. Some want to know where the fish comes from, is it true that it comes from this or that place. Some still believe the stereotype that omul is banned in Russia because harvesting it at Baikal Lake is banned. In truth, it comes to all regions of our country from Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). Or they ask, if the hunting season is closed, how is it that we have venison? Not everyone understands that there are farms. So, you have to explain moments like that.

My main superpower is communication. I can find common ground with any person. Even if something is bad in the kitchen or somewhere else and people see that there’s no good way out of this situation, I always say: “Don’t worry, everything is going to be fine now!” And that brings peace.
I cook because I like doing it. And it so happens that I don’t cook at home, for a family — I cook for many people at once.

I’m glad that there are more and more Russian restaurants. If you look back to the early 2010s, there were plenty of Italian, Japanese, French — really, whichever you wanted — restaurants, but there were almost no places with Russian cuisine. Today, that trend has changed, everyone has a better attitude towards Russian cuisine, and the food itself became more interesting. The most important thing is not to overdo with the tricks. Nobody is forcing you to make basins full of Olivier salad, but it’s foolish to depart from traditional values. And in this regard, I feel proud — people come to a Russian restaurant, and they are served very Russian food.

Guide restaurants with  Evgeny Kuznetsov participation