Hotel Telegraaf's Chef on High Wire
Vladislav Djatšuk, head chef of the hotel's Tchaikovsky restaurant, spoke to ERR's Stuart Garlick about his upcoming turn in a crane-suspended micro kitchen 50 meters above central Tallinn.
Dinner in the Sky is returning to Tallinn after a very successful 2013 season. The concept, which has proved popular in Estonia and many other countries, involves a gourmet meal, either a light lunch or a multi-course dinner, served by renowned chefs on a table suspended around 50 meters in the air, overlooking local landmarks. Diners are securely strapped into racing car-style seats, in which they can sample premium-quality food whilst overcoming any sense of vertigo. It will be in Tallinn June 10-15 in the Rotermann Quarter and August 12-17 on the square where the Art Academy used to be (Tartu mnt 1).
Restaurant Tchaikovsky head chef Vladislav Djatšuk, who will be sharing cookery duties with the Finnish chef Jouni Toivanen, disagreed when it was put to him that being in the center of a ring of 22 hungry diners, hanging above the streets, might present additional pressure to even an experienced cook. "There's more pressure when you're alone in the kitchen," he said, "and in Tchaikovsky we try to work as a team - it's not possible to just focus entirely on one thing, you always need to look all around and sense the guests' feelings."
Pressed on how the challenge might be different to working in his own kitchen, Djatšuk said, "There is a challenge because in your own kitchen you can do everything with your eyes closed, but with this you're outside, and 50 meters up, so it's a little bit different, but I've done some other events, so it's not so difficult."
Djatšuk, in 2009 Estonia's first finalist in the prestigious Bocuse d'Or cookery contest, explained the philosophy behind his food. "It's Russian-French cuisine, but in my style. French cuisine I learned through experience, as I worked in France. I also worked in the Scandinavian countries, so the food's got reduced sauces, it's a bit lighter than typical French cuisine, but it depends on what we have on the market." His childhood in what is now Belarus continues to influence his creative process, but in a subconscious way. "Belorussia is my childhood taste. If you go deep inside a dish, it's not a copy-paste from someone else's dish, it's something from within a person."
As for Dinner in the Sky, Djatšuk plans to bring the approach that has served him so well into the cramped confines of a suspended micro kitchen. "I will try to bring the philosophy that I have at Tchaikovsky. I'll also try to bring the atmosphere we have. Obviously it's totally different at a pop-up restaurant, but I'll try to keep the high level of food. There will nonetheless be similarities with the full sensory experience Tchaikovsky tries to provide to diners. "We have live music in Tchaikovsky, and with Dinner in the Sky you can see and hear so much, it's a real experience. Everyone is very positive, it's something new, and I think it's a new way of gastronomy, and possibly I can bring something back with me to my kitchen."