Saint Petersburg


Cordiality and Mercy


Izo Dzandzava is, perhaps, the Ginza Project’s most in-demand brand chef. The restaurant life of St. Petersburg would be simply unthinkable without her Georgian cuisine...

How many restaurants you now run?

“Suli-Guli”, which opened recently, is my eighteenth, and the nineteenth is almost ready — it will open in late autumn. I always try to stay within the bounds of traditional Georgian cuisine. In that sense I am old-fashioned, but I think that the true cordiality of the cuisine cannot be conveyed and preserved in any other way. And I am also very careful in my attitude to classic flavours — classic recipes in a modern presentation. I don’t like the word “original” when applied to cuisine, but the menu of our new restaurant will definitely include some of my own inventions.

How often do you regret that you swapped professions from being a doctor to a chef?

I don’t think I have ever regretted it. I reckon that at any moment I could go back to the medical profession — be a nurse at a boarding-house, for instance... I really love my first profession. I like helping people — supporting and caring are in my blood. On the other hand I value highly the experience I have gained in my present profession. The two professions are very different, but there is a place for mercy even now.

What made you change professions?

Happenstance. My husband and I once visited his friend Dmitry Sergeyev (founder and co-owner of the Ginza Project — ed.). I didn’t even know what he did for a living. It was fate, I suppose. But it wasn’t Dmitry who first saw some talent in me, but his sister Marina... I am very happy that they and Vadim Lapin believed in me. I began my practical experience as a chef at the “Terrassa” restaurant. When I first came, stood and watched how it all worked I realized that it wasn’t easy, but I am one of those people who either does something well or not at all. And I couldn’t let down the people who had faith in me.

At what point did you realize that you could be successful?

Believe it or not, I still doubt myself: am I doing everything right? Is everything turning out as it should? These complexes will never leave me.

They are not complexes. Clever people always doubt themselves...

Thank you for the compliment. But the chefs I work with are completely different. They have travelled a long way, studied a great deal, but I have just breezed in from another world... By the way, I didn’t immediately take on the very tough working regime that I have now. I opened my first restaurant, and a year later I was asked — perhaps another one? That was in Moscow, and I found it very hard. But I managed . The third restaurant opened eight months after the second, and the next — seven months after that. Then came the time when four restaurants opened simultaneously in Moscow and St. Petersburg! Thank God we opened them all OK. And now I realize that there is nothing to be frightened of in my profession.

Where St.Petersburg

July 2018

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