How long have you been at the restaurant?
I have been working at Kaspar’s since January 2016.
Which was the first restaurant you worked in?
My first job was at Restaurant Korsaar, Tallin Estonia. I still benefit from the skills I learned as a commis in the gard manger section. Executing extravagant fine dining dishes and being part of the team is what initially drew me into becoming a chef.
What was the last London restaurant you went to, apart from your own?
Maze by Gordon Ramsay.
What or who has been the biggest influence on the way you cook and why?
My greatest influence and mentor is Executive Chef Andrew Stansbie. Andrew was instrumental to my growth and progress as a chef. I still keep in very close contact and always look to Andrew for guidance. I attribute many of my skills with being a chef to working with Andrew. Not only is Andrew a great chef and mentor but also a great friend.
What is your personal signature dish?
My signature dish is a modern interpretation of a borscht consommé. As a young boy I was obsessed with helping my grandmother make borscht. I loved the flavours and aroma when cooking with her. After working in French fine dining cuisine as a young chef, I neglected and was not interested in my native cuisine. As my confidence grew and I realised the importance of family and tradition in cooking I have been constantly refining a dish of the classic flavours that my grandmother introduced me to with the refinement and modern twist of modern fine dining.
Which other chef’s) do you most admire?
Magnus Nilsson is a chef I admire. His ability to have such great cuisine in such a remote part of the world is very inspiring. I really admire fine Nordic cuisine, as neighbours in the country of Estonia I never thought such global admiration would be so close to home. It keeps me inspired to see chefs do what is close to their traditions in a refined way.
What’s the best part of your job?
I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction working in different parts of the world. The ability to work with a team from so many parts of the globe is also a great part of what we do. I have learned so much about so many cultures just by immersing myself in different kitchens with different teams. I now have friends all over the world.
And the worst?
Sacrificing time with my girlfriend and family is by far the most challenging part. I would not give it up for anything though. I cannot express what it means to me to be a chef, unfortunately it is very hard for your loved ones to understand the dedication and sacrifice involved.
What would your last meal be?
I would organize a dinner with all of my family and enjoy the company with traditional Russian cuisine.
The greatest meals are not only about the food but the company you keep.
Do you have a chef’s shortcut that you can share with us?
There is really no shortcut being a chef. The key is to be very organized. Repetition and hard work are the cornerstones of this work. I would say constantly analysing how you do things and being willing to change is the most important skill.