The graduate of Moscow Art Theater School. Holder of marketing diploma from the City University of London. Maxim spent more than 20 years managing media, telecom, and IT companies. Today, he manages Moscow and regional projects of the Ginza Project restaurant holding. He is also the founder and brand chef of Rybtorg restaurant.

I worked as a top manager, mostly at various telecom projects. Then I helped Vera charity foundation to build Moscow’s first children’s hospice – Lighthouse. And then, I became the first person to offer the general public fish from Seychelles – and that was a big departure from everything else that was happening on Moscow market at that time. And I made this journey from a modest Captain Maxim online store to where I am now.

I was invited to the Rybtorg project that hasn’t even opened yet. My future partners wanted to establish a chain of fishmonger shops. And they saw me as a potential vendor, because I made quite a splash online with my Seychelles fish of incredible quality. I told them that nothing will come of it because there isn’t much money in fish retail – or the scope would have to be really huge. I told them that they should open a fish restaurant with a small shop. That’s how my story with cooking, being a restaurateur and chef began.

It should be said that at that moment, I knew nothing, it was a total gamble. I puffed out my cheeks and said, yes, I can do this – knowing nothing about the restaurant business. I was a professional consumer of restaurants, but I had no idea how this business works. Thank God that we had a huge flow of visitors from the very start, so I had to learn very quickly under pressure – that’s the best way.

Admittedly, I had been able to put together a very decent selection of fish and seafood in a compact menu. Plus, I was one of the first people to do such a project at Patriarshy Ponds. After that, several more fish and seafood-oriented projects appeared there.

There have been quite a few times when I wanted to transform our shop into a sitting area, but I just cannot bring myself to do it, because there are plenty of clients who, I think, have never even been to the second floor. They simply buy food at our shop and believe that this is where you get the best fish. I guess. I keep an eye on the quality. It’s really very simple with fish – it has to be fresh, and it can’t lie around for long: it should either be thrown out or you should really try to sell it. Because fish is only good for two and a half days.

We have a great waitstaff who sell well, who know how to talk about the really delicious things. The waiter is the restaurant’s main salesperson. That’s both good and bad. They only sell those things that they know the guests will like, because that ensures that they’ll be tipped. And therefore, we have to regularly pester them to offer other things on the menu as well. But it’s hard to pull the waiters off course because they are directly dependent on the guest’s pleasure. They know they have a perfect dish up their sleeve, something that everyone likes, and that’s what they offer. We are actively working against this.

We are like a family at the restaurant, so it’s not the fear of punishment that affects people’s behavior, it’s the fear of disappointing each other. There is management from fear and management from respect. I like it when people don’t screw up because they want to be on par with the everyone else. All people are different, each with their own personality. Four people have been with us since the opening – it’s going to be seven years soon. Once, somebody took a month-long vacation and the guests were left languishing: “Where’s our Serezha? What happened to Irakly?»

The world is in search of harmony. We are not very good at it, but the nature only strives for one thing – to grow and live in happiness. Everybody needs somebody – you’ll find that everywhere. In work, in love, in life – everyone wants happiness. It’s too bad that nobody teaches us to be happy when we are young. I think that such subject should be introduced, starting with kindergarten. The most important thing is to articulate what it is you are looking for. As soon as you have that picture in your head, everything will come together.

Guide restaurants with Maxim Polzikov participation