Because I am Russian
Alexey Semyonov, the chef at Russian Pub believes that all women have a gene for cooking and that Russian cuisine is soul food. The latter can be sampled at Tverskoy bulvar 10, where he works day and night, at creating the recipe of the perfect pelmeni.
Why did you become a chef of Russian cuisine?

The answer is very simple - because I am Russian <laughing>.
To tell you the truth, it was fate. When I was a boy, there was very little food on the store shelves. We used to take the Tula train to Moscow to get sausage ("kolbasa") and people would come back with backpacks filled with sausages. There was a riddle: "What's long, green and smells like a sausage?". Answer: The Tula train. My favourite cake, which I made often, was from pancakes layered with homemade strawberry jam. Later on, when I was a "pioneer" at school, I made pancakes, selling them at 10 kopecks each. After school, I decided to become a chef, but wasn't accepted into the college. So I started working as a cleaner for them - they took a liking to me and took me in eventually. I graduated from there with Honours.

In the army I was a bread-cutter, not the cook - but still in the kitchen. When I came back from army, there weren't that many restaurants in Moscow yet, so being a chef was a prestigious occupation. I started out at a cafe of some people I knew, and in just a year and half, I was working as a Chef in a restaurant. So it works out that I've been in this profession since 1999.
During my internship in France, one of the French Chefs suggested, that I cook Russian cuisine and focus on local products. I live here, that is why my cuisine is targeted at Russian people who have become well-versed in food. Nowadays, patrons are impossible to fool. They travel and see a lot more than a cook, who doesn't earn enough to travel.

A Chef is a person who gets recognition straightaway or never. Unlike artists, whose artworks get more and more expensive after their death. That's why you should always be improving your skills.

Our country is multinational and multi-religious. I think that at the moment it's the most expensive cuisine in the world. That's because it used to be based on everything that the forest and waters gave us: white fish, black caviar, sturgeon, game animals, etc. All these products are expensive now.Besides this, a lot French and Italian Chefs were invited to cook in Tsarist Russia.

Our cuisine is closely connected to the French one: crab necks instead of shrimps, grouse, exquisite sauces, truffles. And we alway cooked it in the Russian feast manner, for big families and invited guests.

How do Chefs eat?

Terribly, this is why many of us have health issues. The job is stressful, and you have to taste everything in a mix - sweet and sour, salty and spicy. You are tasting all the day long and always on your feet. There's no time to sit down and have a meal. Sometimes I eat at midnight, so I only have a cup of tea when I wake up.

Is there anyone else who cooks in your family?

My wife cooks amazingly. Actually I think that all women have a gene for cooking. The women who don't cook are either unconfident in their abilities, or were underestimated. They just need to try and they will succeed. It's like a maternal instinct - every woman has it.

You know, a woman always cooks with soul. If the sour cream isn't supposed to be in the soup, she'll put it in, because she thinks it tastes better. A man always cooks it like it's supposed to be. That's why there aren't that many female Chefs. And in most cases they work with home cuisine, Ukrainian for example, where they can cook with the soul. Cooking according to the rules is for men
Does a Chef need his own style?

Yes, it's a form of self-expression. Some express themselves through their appearance, some paint zig-zags on the plates. Each Chef has his own passion: one likes uniforms, the other aprons, some Chefs collect frying pans, knives e.i. everything for the kitchen.

What inspires you?

I think the joy of being alive, that every day is different from the next. If you sit and do nothing, you will be overtaken. This is why you should always be pushing forward. The Chef should be setting an example in the kitchen, by constantly sharing his experience and inspiring the younger generation.

How will Moscow restaurants look in 10 years?

I would actually like restaurants to still be around. And for people to have the opportunity to dine out more than once a month or once a year. 20 years ago, your average Russian didn't go to restaurants at all, but today, in some cases, it's cheaper to eat out than to cook at home. It would be more attainable if property rent prices in Moscow were more reasonable. Then people would be able to open family run restaurants all around the city. At the moment paying rent "eats up" everything.
Alexey making the longest ravioli in the world. August, 3 2013. St. Petersburg.
What is your dream?

I want to reach certain peaks in a professional sense. But, as the expression goes, the higher you fly, the harder you fall. One of the peaks has already been conquered. We're in the Guinness Book of World Records with the longest ravioli. That happened in St. Petersburg in 2013. We beat the previous world record set by the Swiss (around 17 meters). Our ravioli was 29 meters long!

Now I want to invent the best "pelmeni"* (Russian dumpling*) in Russia. Here at the Russian Pub, we spent half a year thinking about them and then we spent another 6 months experimenting with them. I still think we are in the very beginning of this process, but we won't stop and will succeed in making the absolute best "pelmeni".

Apart from pelmeni, what should we come to the Russian Pub for?

We have a very interesting format, which you won't find anywhere else. There's an integrated view on modern Russian cuisine as we use all the possible cooking styles. We have authentic dishes like "pelmeni", where I use old machines to mince the meat, thus going back to the roots of the Russian cuisine. At the same time we use modern technologies. For example, we don't have a traditional Russian oven, but we have a "sous-vide", which is used to cook tasty, even exceptional dishes.

Our approach is very serious concerning the food, drinks, interior, music. To really get the feel of it and understand what we're doing, you have to come and try it yourself. It's a collaboration of good cuisine and good alcohol. You can always have a delicious meal and drinks here. I have experience both in premium restaurants and in simple canteens. I do my best to cook delicious dishes, using ingredients sourced from all around Russia. For example, instead of black caviar we have decent pike caviar. In the new menu we have some unforgettable mashed potatoes with sour cream and pike caviar.Russian cuisine is soul food. We're doing the best we can so people come to the Russian Pub today, tomorrow and thereafter.
Meet the Chef at
Russian Pub
Address: Tverskoy bulvar, 10 blg. 1