Uilliam Lamberti became famous in Moscow for working in a trendy Novikov’s restaurant “Galereya”. Today he patronizes the kitchens of BlackBerry and “Balcony” restaurants opened this year by a new trendsetter in the field of trendy places construction– the Ginza Project company
Simple or complex
It depends on what do you want. When I wanted to work in the restaurants with three Michelin stars – I did. I never wanted to make my own restaurant to be similar to them. Because those, who consider stars important, have this quality, which confuses me a lot, – they do only what they assume is necessary, and if somebody else doesn’t like it, that’s his/her problem. And this is right, otherwise our profession wouldn’t have had such a status and wouldn’t be compared to art. But what really turns me on is when people come to me to eat pasta with tomatoes – once, twice, thrice, when I can sit and talk with the guests, without any pathos, this is a softer version of the relationship between the chief and clients, which is impossible in, speaking conventionally, Michelin world.
New or regular
When I was just starting, French cuisine was in trend, no one have heard about Spanish cooks, and French approach, words “nouvelle cuisine” – “new kitchen” and French last names were the most relevant. And I went to work in France, where learned to understand the kitchen. Learn to respect food. Respect starts with little things. Well, for example, you’re going to fry a duck liver, and it was waiting for this moment for three hours at room temperature. When you fry it, it’ll be OK, but it has already started to oxidize in the warmth, and this is bad, so it must necessarily be kept in the fridge until the very moment of cooking. Those are the little things, but the most important ones. And a new kitchen is not a set of any specific skills. It’s a state of mind. You just take the knowledge and move on.
Italian or American
Many Italian chefs cook Italian food exceptionally. I never wanted to be called an Italian chef, never worked in an Italian restaurant and even when open my own restaurant I won’t be an Italian chef. There’re too many products, technics and places in the world that I’m interested in. Today I can cook lasagna with meat ragout, tomorrow – with fish and not in the conventional way at all. In this context, I find far more interesting, of course, this American, New York or California culinary concept. It has everything, absolutely any product, and those are quite a products I’ll say, and furthermore a complete openness. Of course, not all the restaurants there are delicious, but the cuisine philosophy in the end and gives the message, which you find nowhere else.
Russian or foreign
I’ve recently read an interview with Gordon Ramsay, where he stated something like “when a foreign chef goes to work in Russia, that means it’s his last chance”. How not to believe such an authority – three Michelin stars and all that, but I recalled of how he came to me in the “Gallereya” and I fed him burrata. He was very pleased, came to my kitchen and asked: “What was that?”. I’m just saying, that anything can happen in life. And by the way, an average Moscovite, who regularly visits restaurants, is better versed in Italian cuisine today than average Roman in any non-italian cooking. But, despite its cosmopolitanism, Russians still mostly want the native. I fully understand – at home people want to eat like at home. And for Moscow restaurants it’s difficult enough to get along without borsch on the menu. Here do what you can. That’s why all menus are so much alike, so are the products – the same for everyone. And they are actually the same, because all the suppliers bring them for all from the same places. Then – everyone manage them in the way they come up with.
Restaurant or store
I’ve experienced a lot during my chef’s career, and came to the point, where I became interested in working on the new level. It’s not enough for me to be in charge of the one restaurant and make up dishes. Being a chef – is one thing, but manage the production – it’s a little different capacity. And in general, be able to lead is a separate profession. And it’s no exception for the chef. Cookery store is a different story. This is massive meals supply, far more responsibility. In the culinary sense, here we are following the path of least resistance, it is clear also that if you cook three tons of soup a day, it cannot be any tricks with textures and temperatures. And if in a restaurant you easily serve any meat of the most delicate preparation – for a third, a fourth, in the store you will not succeed. It must be an exact average rate. The head starts working on how to achieve it. Cook it not at 120 degrees, but at 85 – so it becomes softer, and then – three minutes – at 120 degrees to form a crust on top and not on the inside. And so on. And now there is a technology related to gasmodified atmosphere, and it allows to store, for example, the medium-rear steak for some time. By the way, there’re a lot technologies, designed for production, which could be implemented in the restaurant and vice versa. At some point I even engaged in a detailed study of vacuum technology in relation to cooking and preserving food with the Food Institute. And I have the corresponding patent. There’re things to surprise Gordon Ramsay besides burrata.
Beef Rossini in the Russian style
Author: Alexei Zimin
Author: Natalia Savinskaya
Photographer: Ivan Pustovalov