Chef at Culinary Studio «Kartata Potata»
I’ve been cooking since I was about 8, I remember I was already in the second grade and my parents began to go on tour with the theatre very often, and I stayed at home with friends of my mum, babysitters and relatives. But my main friends were neighbours in a communal flat, in the very old area of Kiev — Podol. I enjoyed meeting them in the shared kitchen. There I realized that domestic work and food could cheer me up. I’m 35 now, and I enjoy washing my floor, doing hand washing and spreading condensed milk and raspberry jam on waffle cakes.
When I was in drama school in the UK, I couldn’t afford lunches in a canteen and I cooked pasta with herbs, thai rice and soup. During lunchtime I took out my lunch box and ate what I cooked — it was funny, but everyone thought I was posh, cool and had very picky eating habits. My path to the professional kitchen led through the kitchen sink.
An Italian restaurant in London refused to hire me to work at their kitchen, but I got work as a dishwasher. After my classes in drama school, I worked night shift at the restaurant. And I never got tired of it. Now, when I have my own cooking shows at the TV, I come home and cook dinner with huge pleasure after shooting 15 shows a day. I do not understand how one can get tired of the kitchen. My mother, grandmothers and aunts are the same.
My mother taught me to feel what I cook. She was the best cook in the world. She cooked crabs in a bath-tub, pickled cucumbers and tomatoes in the fish tank and nothing could stop her, even the absence of dishes, pots or ingredients. She and my dad used to borrow money for dinners and manage to cook real feasts for us.
And today, I love to cook and eat green borscht by my mum’s recipe. I have to calculate the proportions for my recipes, but I hate doing it. Usually, I have everything in pinches, handfuls and on eye. But just like my mum, I would like to pass on my knowledge and experience in the kitchen with the smallest detail to others, so I have to calculate. Even when my mother was paralyzed during 6 years — she taught her nurse all of her recipes and secretes.
Now only two people cook exactly like my mother — nurse Mila and me. My husband loves when I cook Mexican food, the eldest son — donuts, baby boy — cherry muffins, my dad loves my soups, and I love tea with lemon and sugar. Tea with lemon in Ukraine is the only food that is considered to be the cure for everything. I think preparation of food and drinks is a way to demonstrate caring and love. After all, when your friend feels bad, all you have to do is to offer a cup of tea — and the life will get better at once.
For me, cooking is a mixture of chemistry, physics and love.I’m grateful to my lucky stars that I was able to turn my passion into work that brings me fun, money and recognition. I am very happy.
Why are men considered to be better cooks?! Because if you give a chef a whole salmon — he will make an incredible stuffed fish. And if you give the same fish to a woman — she will make soup for a couple of days from a head and a tail, cutlets for the whole family out of belly, and filet will be left for steaks. Because she is a domestic manager, not just a cook.
But when people say: «Your husband is probably so happy because you’re such a great cook!» I always say: «My husband is happy and smiling because I joke a lot!» I never thought that it is valuable — knowing how to cook. I think it is valuable to be able to do something good for people. Asp with herbs, lemon, white pepper and a side dish of fried celery and thyme. By the way, I did not buy this fish — it’s a gift from a friend. This is a very simple dish.