Born in Riga, Latvia, in 1982. Completed his studies at Riga Culinary School (RTTS Riga) and between 2003 and 2009 worked at the Baltic city’s restaurants. In 2009, Taras apprenticed a lot — at Mugaritz in Spain, at La Vie in Germany, at Hanner in Austria. In 2010-2011, he once again worked in Riga, and then moved to Moscow where he became a part of the stellar team at Ragout. Beginning in 2014, Taras was the head of kitchen at both Raugot restaurants. Today, he is the chef of Touché Wine Bar & Kitchen.

I chose this profession consciously and at a relatively mature age, so I always approach the choice of establishments very seriously. When I was leaving Ragout, which was an iconic place, it was important for me to find someone I could trust, someone who would be a comfortable and interesting colleague. I decided that Touché is an interesting project because it was created by well-motivated people, not some business sharks.

When you join a major corporation, you must follow some explicit rules, but Touché is different, we are a small independent establishment. Such places have more soul.

From the very start I had greater freedom of action here. Usually, the menus at all restaurants are created using some common templates that correspond to the market laws. At Touché, I had to remember that this is a wine bar, which means we should offer lots of appetizers. Initially, there were no hot dishes on the menu. But if you see some good fish, you buy it and cook it, making a special hot dish of the day. Or you get some good lamb meat — so, you cook lamb. And this is an interesting problem because it forces you to constantly think about making something. I can’t think of another restaurant in Moscow that worked this way eight years ago. Today, we have ten hot dishes on the menu, which is too much in my view, but this is the show of our loyalty to the guests.
For that same reason we have dishes that we’ve been cooking for eight years straight. One example is beef tartare. I cannot change its composition or appearance because this tartare has become the restaurant’s signature dish of sorts. The same is with the cheesecake, however banal that may sound. It is served as camembert cheese, in the same kind of a wooden box, and the recipe includes gooseberries for the slightly sour taste.

Speaking of the trends that we could have set in motion at a certain point, we were one of the first restaurants to bake our own bread. The good kind, sourdough. Back then, few even contemplated their own bread, it was just becoming fashionable — and we were already completely self-sufficient. Baking bread daily is a big thing.

The work of chef is a lot of creativity and a lot of organizing things. There is a pile of subtle details that you must consider, and each decision always comes with choices that you have to make. I can do a good job organizing any kitchen process. Some people are better at food engineering, some are great artists, some are excellent at recreating dishes, someone may be a great organizer — and in some people all of these qualities are combined. My principal quality is my capacity to work. I am always at my workstation and ready to resolve any problems. Plus, it’s quite difficult to put me out of temper. I’ve got to tip my hat off to those who do physical exercise every day — I don’t have time for that. Which is why it’s especially important for me to use the two days off to walk around, to breathe the fresh air, and to clear my head.

Guide restaurants with Taras Kirienko participation