Newly-starred Moscow chefs put Russia on the culinary map

Borscht, pelmeni, stroganoff: the stars of Russian national cuisine are now in the spotlight, where aficionados think they should have been a long time ago.

A new set of Michelin-starred chefs concoct tantalizing dishes based on traditional Russian specialties such as Kamchatka crab, caviar and sturgeon.

And this know-how is finally recognized by this arbiter of taste, the Michelin Guide.

“The Russian capital is a culinary gem that reveals a fabulous variety of national and international cuisine,” explains Gwendal Poullennec, the international director of Michelin guides, in Moscow.

Michelin recognized for the first time the best chefs in the country and immediately awarded nine restaurants with at least one star.

These prized stars are the result of five years of hard work by testers who anonymously assessed product quality, aroma and taste at numerous establishments, Poullennec explains.A new generation of chefs want to bring Russian culinary art to the world.

Russia is now the 35th country to have a Michelin guide. The best restaurant in the country, a fine dining establishment in Moscow, is called Twins Garden, owned by twins Ivan and Sergei Berezuzki.

It is a “historic event” for Russia, they say.

“Moscow is now on a culinary equal footing with other metropolises in the world,” says Ivan. He and his brother received not only two Michelin stars, but also a green star as an organic restaurant as well as an honor for the best service.

Chef Artem Estafiev also received two stars for his restaurant Artest-Chef’s Table.

Among the one-star establishments are Selfie by Anatoly Kazakov, Beluga by Yevgeny Vikentiev, Grand Cru by David Hemmerle, White Rabbit by Vladimir Mukhin, Biology by Ekaterina Alekhina, Sakhalin by Alexei Kogay and Savva. by Andrei Shmakov.

Mukhin, 38, of White Rabbit, sees the star as a long-awaited victory that comes at the end of a long and difficult journey.

“It’s a recognition for Russian cuisine, a distinction for me and my team, a step, a motivation to develop ourselves even more”, he confides, visibly delighted.The Michelin-starred restaurant Lapin Blanc.  The French Michelin restaurant guide has awarded its coveted gastronomic stars for the first time to the best chefs in Russia.The Michelin-starred restaurant Lapin Blanc. The French Michelin restaurant guide has awarded its coveted gastronomic stars for the first time to the best chefs in Russia.

After all, he says, consider that in Soviet times food all over the country was prepared according to a cookbook, the standards of which were strictly regulated and lacked in creativity.

Its goal is now to make Russian culinary art known to the whole world.

White Rabbit has long been known as the place to go in Moscow for anyone who enjoys Russian cuisine with a modern twist.

Mukhin’s menu offers, for example, braised white cabbage in a creamy red caviar sauce or wild mushrooms with cod.

“We live on a lot of seasonal produce,” he says.

In terms of ingredients, what angers him is Russia’s long-standing embargo on food from the European Union.

“I think it’s a shame that I can’t buy French cheese here,” says Mukhin, who has also spent time training in France.A halibut dish from the White Rabbit restaurant.A halibut dish from the White Rabbit restaurant.

Russian President Vladimir Putin banned imports of meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables from the EU in retaliation when the bloc and the United States sanctioned Moscow for its aggressive policies in Ukraine.

Many Russian farmers have since learned to make cheese like in Italy or France, explains Mukhin.

Nevertheless, the import ban makes it difficult to find good ingredients, although there is no shortage in Russia as was the case during the Soviet period.

“We now have a few private farmers who grow carrots, tomatoes, cabbage and whatever else we need without pesticides and organically, as befits a kitchen of this quality,” Mukhin said.

He says that for too long it was like Russian Roulette was trying to find reliable suppliers.

“About 70% of a restaurant’s success depends on the high quality of the products,” explains Mukhin.

Moscow has come to rely on the passion and innovation of its hardworking chefs.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin is optimistic that top-quality Russian cuisine will be just as much of an attraction for tourists from all over the world as sights such as Red Square and the Kremlin.

“Our city shows itself to tourists and Muscovites in yet another way through the Michelin Guide,” he says. Following a temporary closure due to the pandemic, restaurants are again packed in the city of 12 million people.

Along with the restaurant scene, several food courts have opened in the city’s huge market halls, serving everything from sushi to Uzbek and Caucasian cuisine to pizza.

Thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow is now the first Michelin-starred city in the territory of the world’s first communist state, Sobyanin said.

The Russian capital now has more than 15,000 gastronomic establishments.

Despite the dawn of the new era, however, the vast majority of Russians cannot afford to eat at the city’s Michelin-starred establishments.

Monthly salaries are a few hundred dollars on average, while pensions are around US $ 200 (RM833).

The owner of the Michelin Guide Poullennec emphasizes that the guide contains advice for all budgets.

Compared to other major capitals, Moscow offers good value for money, with 15 of the recommended restaurants offering meals under US $ 30 (RM125). – dpa

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