Vladimir Mukhin: The man behind trendy Russian cuisine

Chef, mentor and passionate creator Vladimir Mukhin is a perfect example of young entrepreneur who brings traditional Russian cuisine back on the gourmet map from the long oblivion at international scene. I’ve met him twice and each meeting was extraordinary, thanks to his cooking talent and natural charisma.  

I first heard about Chef Vladimir Mukhin while surfing Instagram looking for inspiration for my own recipes. He immediately got my attention thanks to his unique way of cooking by combining Russian culinary traditions with modern sexy and sophisticated techniques. I started following him, enchanted by his ironic dark sense of humor, which is so visible while he travel the world and tell about Russian cuisine and local ingredients.

Picture courtesy of Vladimir Mukhin

Chef Vladimir Mukhin is a part of big cooking dynasty. He is fifth generation cook, and since childhood never doubted he is going to continue this family tradition. It was devotion, talent and hard work that brought him to the culinary elite, making White Rabbit restaurant a must-visit place in Moscow thanks to the twice participation in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2015 and 2016.

Most of the time food can look good on picture, but the taste would disappoint you in real life. The more I’ve learned about Mukhin the more I was intrigued. I knew I had to taste his cuisine to make my own judgement. And soon enough, I had a chance to do it.

While traveling to Mexico to visit my dear friend and fantastic Chef Paola Garduño, I’ve got an invitation from Chef Roberto Solis to attend a dinner hosted in the middle of ruins of Mayan Pyramids in Merida, Yucatán at HOKOL VUH. It was a special dinner with most wanted chefs in most mysterious place. My flights back to Europe was already booked, my trip was planned, I wasn’t sure I can attend an event. Even the name of Chef Rene Redzepi (forgive me, Master) was not convincing me to stay. When I found out that Vladimir Mukhin is one of the chefs to cook that night the decision to stay was made! I’ve said to myself “Mukhin, you better be good”, accepted the invitation and never regretted it!

Chef Vladimir Mukhin and Chef Alejandro Ruíz preparing Tostada of venison with Chicatana sauce Picture by Anastassia Khozissova

During this dinner I have got a chance to experience culinary magic of Vladimir Mukhin for the first time, because a true art of cooking is pure magic. I was enchanted not only by his talent, but by his easy-going personality and charm. Doing my first steps in culinary world, I look at Chefs in awe, like a student look at his mentor. And Mukhin was not an exception. But he made me forget about my shyness (believe me or not I can be shy) by saying: “Hi! How are you?” – and it felt like he knew me for a long time. – “I brought black bread malt from Russia, we are going to do Tostadas in Russian style”.

Picture by Anastassia Khozissova

Next time I’ve seen Mukhin in Moscow. I came there for a couple of days this summer, planning to leave as soon as possible to visit my mom in my hometown Saratov, when Vladimir’s invitation to attend his Chef’s Table Moscow arrived. And I said it again: “Mukhin, is better be good ” changing my tickets one more time. I knew it would worth it.

Picture by Anastassia Khozissova

That evening I arrived early, which is not typical for me. I was impatient. Vladimir walked in, forceful and confident, I knew I’m here to experience some magic again. This was not a typical menu tasting, believe me since I attended a lot of them all over the world. It was a show, an interactive passage, full of fun, humor, sarcasm, Q&A sessions and, of course, taste. You can say all guests fell in love with chef’s charisma. It was easy to ask him questions, it was natural to discuss his techniques, it was ok just to have fun – an opposite of usual prim tastings.

Picture by Anastassia Khozissova

When a couple next to my table asked Mukhin how he keeps himself fit, he smiled and confessed he haven’t hit a gym in almost 7 years, but twice a week take a fencing sessions. No wonder his style of answering the questions reminded me about fast winning touches of the opponent in this sport. Few people at the venue was tried to provoke him, he counter right back with humor and strong position. You don’t want to argue with him, especially on his kitchen!

But what about the food? It was marvelous. The name of the set “Arousal” felt provocative and intriguing. Mukhin created a menu with seasonal ingredients from Russia and other countries, which he and his team collect and brought to Moscow. The course consisted of 11 dishes and one extra special made last minute due to the gift of goose liver brought by one of the guest.

Picture by Anastassia Khozissova

The evening started with young zucchini, parmesan cheese and summer truffle – the dish which reminded me Russian cartoon “Tsvetik-semitsvetik” and guessing of the Daisy “He loves me, he is not”.

Picture by Anastassia Khozissova

Followed by salted napoleon, beluga and corn milk. A vegan dish, which I absolutely loved was Mushrooms and young almonds.

Picture by Anastassia Khozissova

On the six course, I had to unzip my dress to be able to continue with menu tasting. Mukhin and the team easily transformed simple ingredients into powerful and sexy dishes, that excited all sences, so it felt like crime to leave anything on the plate.

Picture by Anastassia Khozissova

Picture by Anastassia Khozissova

Dinner was prepared by the team of five with Vladimir Mukhin leading his own ship called Chef’s Table. After dinner, he took us for a tour to his laboratory, which he created for professional chefs. There was everything chef can dream about.  A huge library he collected from all over the world and translated to Russian language for chefs be able to read.

This place is a real paradise for culinary talents who wants to work on the new menu, could be inspired by the moment or need for a place to experiment, learn, create. It was right here where I understood how far away I am from becoming a chef.  I felt so inspired and motivated to learn and practice more. Who knows, maybe one day I will step into this laboratory to work and present my own cuisine to Moscow.

Vladimir Mukhin in his laboratory

Picture by Anastassia Khozissova

Mukhin is hard worker. He constantly creating new recipes, opening new restaurants, cooking for celebrities, hosting events and most importantly finding time to be a wonderful father of a boy and a .

Watching him is mesmerizing. I couldn’t help but ask: «How did you find energy to be everywhere and do all at once?» He smile «Energy technics, – was his answer. – Just Practice».

Picture courtesy of Vladimir Mukhin

I left Chef’s table that night in awe. Mushrooms and young almond, Salted napoleon, beluga and corn milk, Polba (Russian version of spelt) and Foie gras,  Strawberry watermelon… Testing unique menu by amazing, charismatic, energetic Russian Chef Vladimir Mukhin was a mind blowing experience.

Thank you Chef and the crew for such an inspiring evening! And for those who are traveling to Moscow: don’t forget to add Chef’s table Moscow to your agenda. I promise it’s worth it!

Yours,

Anastassia Khozissova

 

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