Chef

Christian Maurino

About
Interview

       Christian Maurino’s childhood and youth were spent in the cozy region of Provence, located between the Rhone Valley, Languedoc-Roussillon, Alps, Cote d’Azur and Corsica. The uniqueness of the location gave the inhabitants of this place a variety of natural and tasty products. Lambs fed on alpine meadows, pheasants from the banks of the Durance river, river pike perch from the cold streams of Provençal waters, marble Rabas black truffle — all this inspired Christian to choose his profession. At the age of 13, he realized that cooking would become not just his hobby, but his life’s work.

       In July 1975, the maestro first came to the kitchen as an intern under the direction of Claude Richau, the owner of a 18th-century hotel restaurant, in which French President Henri Giscard d’Esten and his wife were dining at the time. Even then, Christian set about trying to open his own restaurant, realizing that there is a lot to learn for this. Upon reaching the required age, he was accepted into the Escofier Vocational School of Haute Cuisine. With a strong character, Christian was accustomed to achieve his goals and always sought new knowledge and experimentation. His mentor, Mr. Claude Bertrand, constantly urged Christian not to be afraid to go beyond the student’s professional limits and expand his usual boundaries.

       The next step on the path to learning a profession was training at the Ritz Escoffier in Paris, then internships began in different cities of France (Courchevel, Meribel, Tignes, Cannes, Ajaccio) and preparation for a qualified gastronomic exam, which is key to becoming a cook as a professional. Successfully passing all the tests and passing the exam, Christian realized that the real rise of his career had begun.

       In 1988, Christian's dream came true - he opened his first restaurant in the resort town of Bormes-les-Mimosas on the Cote d'Azur. But this was not enough for him: gradually the kitchen turned into a real passion for the maestro and he understood that if you want to learn the incredibly difficult and interesting gastronomic science, you need to share experiences with the chefs of other countries, learn new products and secrets of their preparation.

       Conjured by this world, thirsty for knowledge and in love with cooking, Christian sold his restaurant and set off to travel the world. Having worked in Central America, in the Caribbean, in South Asia, the chief was in Russia, in Moscow. According to Christian, Moscow enchanted him, he fell in love with her as a beautiful woman and now he cannot be long without her. It was a special pleasure for Christian to see how the sense of taste in the Russian guest evolves and how people become imbued with the culture of gastronomy. Christian loved Russian markets and some national dishes, ingeniously adapting them in his own way.

       The basic principle of the work of the chef “Parisienne”, so beloved by the Russian guests, is the ability to guess the wishes of the guests and the desire to bring joy to their creations. “You need to love what you do and then the guests will also love it!” Says Christian day after day embodying his words in the most delicious and unusual dishes.
      - Cristiano, let's start with the main thing: how do you become a real cook?

       - At 13 I had to choose a profession. I wanted to create only with my own hands, so I chose between the professions of landscape designer or cook. I tried to cook and decided to go further in this particular case. Then began internships, training at the Ritz Escoffier in Paris. Then - a small Provencal restaurant, seasonal cuisine based on local products, and again and again lessons. Then I was brought to Corsica, to the Bec Fin restaurant - there I realized how much I like working with fresh fish and seafood ... I would have stayed there, but after two years I studied classical French cooking at the restaurant Paul Bocuse: long live meat, sausages , broth and cream! He returned to fish only three years later, settling in Cannes and realizing himself to be an expert in all areas of French cuisine. But I still love the fish.

        - Have you experimented with culinary traditions of other countries?

       - I myself am half Italian, I know this kitchen well. It is perfect for home - simple, tasty, the appearance of the dish is not particularly important, the main thing - more and more spacious. And French cuisine is perfectionism in everything: the guest should be delighted already from one type of dish, and cannot be disappointed when he tries this dish. That is why I say that French cuisine is an art, it is the beauty of the dish, the versatility of taste and the enjoyment of the aftertaste. And I want to do exactly this art.

        - How do you think, Moscow gourmets are able to fully appreciate your work?

       - Now yes. But six years ago, when I first came to Moscow, to a Moscow restaurant, the guests did not understand the high cuisine. They did not care what lay on the plate. It was believed that if they came to a luxurious restaurant, everyone praised. This is boring - and so I went to Morocco, where the royal family engaged me. You can imagine all the beauty with which I was met there ... But I could not even think what religion would prevent me from. I am an atheist, but the Moroccans are very religious. Everything was ritual there. I did not fit into this ritual, and it was very depressing. The invitation of Vladislav to head the kitchen here, in Parisienne - in the already tempted Moscow - was, of course, a gift. Now here I can cook my complex and beautiful dishes and know that they will understand and appreciate me - people really like the culture of gastronomy. I like that my guest expects new impressions from my kitchen. Yes, and what guests! I was invited to cook a banquet for President Medvedev. I am far from politics, I am a cook and I do my own business, but it’s still flattering for me to cook for the president of this big country.

       - How do you relax?

       - I'm going to my mother. Every three months and spend a week with her.

       - Cook for her?

       - No, that you! I can only cook in a professional kitchen. At home, there will be a real mess, this is insanity - to venture it on four people! So my family can try my cuisine only in a restaurant.

       - How and where do new ideas usually come from?

       - I love to travel, already traveled half the world. On the road, I never stop in hotels with their mode and a menu adapted for tourists - I immediately go to the market. It is important for me to understand every product, every spice, herbs — I touch them, look around, smell, try. This is the only way to understand the culture of a place. Hence the inspiration for experimentation. For example, when I came to Moscow for the first time, I did not know about borsch or dumplings. Now I am cooking real Russian borscht, but I add a drop of truffle oil at the end. Well, consider it as an autograph! And I make dumplings - with foie gras and shrimps. And Russian smoked sausage is something! After trying it, he decided on a revolution: for the festival Beaujolais baked oysters with it. An unusual snack was made, and the guests appreciated.

       - In general, how far can experiments in traditional French cuisine go?

       - Exceptions must confirm the rule. The main principle is one: respect for the product. A man grows carrots, he works on it, spends his strength on it, and I have to respect the work of this person. I have to respect the meat that comes to my kitchen, because it was also grown by someone’s work and cares. Only by respecting the product, I can cook a good dish out of it. And you will try my veal with truffle and the simplest side dish, and feel my respect for you, I will give it to you through a dish that I cook with my own hands and with my head.

       - What is ahead: strengthening the position of French cuisine in Russia?

       - I will continue to create and travel. And when the time comes to retire, I want to transfer my knowledge to those to whom they can come in handy. I traveled the world and saw talented children who had no prospects, simply because their families did not even have enough money for food, not so much for education. I want to transfer my experience to those who feel called to themselves