Born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1988. Graduated from one of St. Petersburg’s catering schools. Right after graduation, Evgeny went to work, adding to his track record St. Petersburg restaurants Il Palazzo, La Maréw, Grato, EM, Vinny Shkaf (Wine Cellar), Hamlet+Jacks, Berlin’s Cell, and a French yacht, among others. Evgeny often finds himself the center of attention: in 2017, he won Aerfolot (Russia’s national airline) culinary competition, in 2021, his restaurant Beluga was awarded a Michelin star, and that same year Evgeny was named Chef of the Year and Breakthrough of the Year by the judges of Russia’s national prize Palm Branch of the Restaurant Business. When he’s not in the kitchen, Evgeny plays the synthesizer in the music collective Acid Orchestra.

My career began for real under the tutelage of Giuseppe Ricchebuono, the chef de cuisine at Il Palazzo, an Italian restaurant at Fontanka River in St. Petersburg. As soon as I learned that Il Palazzo’s menu is being updated by the chef who has a Michelin star for a restaurant in Italy, I knew that I wanted to be there. After joining Giuseppe in the kitchen, I saw the products of the highest quality, thoroughness, attention to detail, I would even say, a pedantic approach to the process — all the things that are necessary to create Michelin-level food. After Il Palazzo, I worked at La Marée in St. Petersburg, Grato in Italy, a yacht in France, at the EM restaurant of Edward Muradyan — it is one of Russia’s oldest restaurants to offer only tasting menus. And then the time came for me to open my own projects and become the chef de cuisine. Together with some people I knew, we launched the Wine Cellar, and then our flagship establishment, Hamlet + Jacks, where I was both a chef and a partner. Sometime later, I opened the Cell restaurant in Berlin — and spent 18 months flying between Germany and St. Petersburg, until I ended up in Moscow. Alexander Rappoport had long known me as a chef, and had told me later that he visited my restaurants many times. And so, I call a meeting to announce that I’m leaving Hamlet + Jacks. And literally 15 minutes later, Rappoport’s assistant is writing to me that he wants to get in touch and invite me to head his Beluga restaurant. After I joined, the project was transformed dramatically and this is probably my greatest professional achievement. To take an established restaurant, a Moscow landmark and retune it — that was a difficult task. My food was very different from the stuff that was served at Beluga before I came. Together with the food, the audience changed as well. But these new guests that came, there were more of them, and they were more open to gastronomical experiments. Of course, it wasn’t easy. Moscow restaurant public is more conservative, it’s enough to look at the projects that have opened in recent years. They are all similar, with very flat cuisine — bereft of authenticity, smoothed out, just so the guests will like it. St. Petersburg is bolder in this regard. After all, Moscow is the merchant capital, and St. Petersburg is the creative one. I think that this is somehow written into the cities’ DNA. It’s possible that’s why I was invited to join Beluga, and that’s why there’s so much interest in this project now. Many of our guests say that it doesn’t resemble anything that Moscow has. When I came here, Moscow was becoming more and more uniform. You could see it for yourself if you walked around the Patriarshy Ponds, went into the restaurants, and tried to find some differences in their menus. Mr. Rappoport has a more creative approach than many of Moscow’s restaurateurs. I guess that’s why he decided to play a trump card. And, as we see, he got his money’s worth. I was able to change Beluga’s vector, to make it more gastronomical and less conservative — without losing the clients. In economic terms, the restaurant hasn’t done any worse. And I am prouder of that than of the Michelin star we received. After all, I didn’t do anything special to earn it. I worked at my level and, based on results of this work, I was recognized by the world’s most authoritative gastronomic guide. It’s important for me to always feel a breath of life at Beluga: we update the menu often, change certain positions. There are two approaches to growth, Japanese and Chinese. The Japanese approach is about growing deeper. The Chinese approach is about growing wider. For now, I prefer the Japanese one. Right now, we serve a tasting menu that’s called “Novels of Current Art.” There, I use the lens of gastronomy to explore the trends in other art forms. You live through certain events in your life, and you reflect on this subject: in your new tasting menus, if you are a chef; in your albums, if you are a musician; in your films or paintings, if you are an artist. We should live our lives in a greater variety of ways. The more experiences you collect in the process, the greater the inspiration.

Guide restaurants with Evgeniy Vikentyev participation