“Initiative of a chef” is a recent addition to this blog. With this, I want to emphasize research or special events performed by emerging chefs in the world.
To inaugurate this category, an interview with Chef Peeter Pihel about the events “20X8” at Tallinn (Estonia). For me, Peeter Pihel is currently one of the most interesting young chefs of the moment, besides his cuisine, he helped to develop and create a real “cuisine” in Estonia and to raise the standards of future young chefs. He is a true pioneer to open the gastronomy of Estonia at the rest of the world…And this work is just beginning!
Here is the story of an event born of old cookbooks found within the walls… Inspiring!
1-(Scoffier) Initially, you found old cookbooks in the walls of the Pädaste Manor and I know that you’re very interested by your Estonian’s roots? Have you discovered new things in these books?
PPihel- The biggest surprise was that already in the beginning of the last century selection of ingredients was very rich – foie gras, lobsters, different meat, exotic herbs. All these things are mentioned and used in recipes. There are also mentioned proper descriptions how to use those products and how to grow them – for example artichoke. I believe that locals use to put aside seeds for usage at home gardens and it would be interesting to observe how different bushes, plants etc. have spread. Many tips can be found about fertilization – for example it is suggested to add aspargus more horse dung, it makes higher temperature and aspargus loves it.
2-(Scoffier) How did you get the idea for these culinary events “20 X 8″ (just the old books)? What are the objectives?
PPihel- Idea behind “20 by 8″ is to step out from everyday routine, focus on something different and to re-introduce old traditions, ingredients etc. that may seem to be more or less forgotten. For now we have made total four events under “20 by 8” and the last dinner for this season takes place in the end of May.
3-(Scoffier) How do you develop your recipes for these evenings (creative process with your team, way to work…)? Are the events inspired the restaurant’s menu?
PPihel– It is pure teamwork and it is very enjoyable. I try to find the background – meet historians, talk to people, who use to work in Pädaste, check old photots etc. If I have marked the key words, then we sit down with my team and discuss in which way we are going with the recipes. Everybody learns something and widens their knowledge.
4-(Scoffier) I am curious, there is a recipe that you consider a “coup de coeur/hit”, if so which one?
PPihel- In every events are some hit dishes, I would say biggest hit has been reindeer brain and lung sausage in Zero waste dinner. We take in whole reindeer rump and try to use everithing what you can use for food. Amazing texture and we was happy with results!
5-(Scoffier) I have interviewed a year ago, since your name is recognized among the chefs (International), restaurant NEH will be open all year and you think a lot (Kitchen Crunch Blog) about the development of gastronomy in Estonia. Are people more aware of the importance of “local products” and their culinary heritage? Do you perceive a change?
PPihel- It is nice to say, that things are moving forward in Estonia – more and more chefs are finding themselves local farmer who will provide vegetables, meat, eggs, herbs etc. Restaurant concepts are getting more clear and concepts are really being follow. Lots of herbs from the wild nature are being used – in Estonia it is very easy, 15 – 20 minutes by car and you find yourself in the middle of forest which offers rich harvest. In my blog, I write about subjects and things in Estonian culinary world that could develop even faster. For example, I think that young chefs in Estonia should go and see what is going on in the big culinary scene, discover a world lot more and educate themselves in top restaurants. I really mean TOP restaurants! But overall I think that things in Estonian culinary world are heading on the right direction.
To sum it up – not only chefs but the whole society in Estonia have started to value and appreciate their roots. Estonians know how to make good dark rye bread and it is more and more popular at home!
1. Pädaste Manor/Alexander Restaurant
2. Neh Restaurant
3. Kitchen Crunch blog
4. Best Emerging Chefs (Q+A)
5. Chefs Talk project
N.B: Copyright for the photos © Peeter Pihel
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