About the secrets of cooking fish, favorite food and a winter menu
Selfish Club Chef has been cooking professionally for over 25 years. Sergey Shikun studied culinary skills in Munich and brought back the traditions of German cooks adapted to Ukrainian tastes. We talked with him about the secrets of cooking fish, the special features of the kitchen and how to choose products for the perfect dinner.
How did you decide to become a cook? Is it a childhood dream or have you come to this in a different way?
I always liked to cook. After serving in the army I graduated from university and was chosen as one of the top ten students. The Upper Bavarian Chamber of Commerce sent us for additional training in Munich for three years. After that I returned to Kiev. I worked in a small restaurants and had some large projects after that. I apply the knowledge I gained in Bavaria here in Ukraine.
I have been managing the kitchen of Selfish Club for three years, from the very opening. Our main values are people devoted to their work and a picturesque location that gives us so many gifts of the earth.
What's your favourite dish?
Grill is my favourite. I like large pieces of meat baked in tandoor or barbecue. I love complicated and labor-intensive dishes that I need to fight with, fight and eventually win (laughs). Not only taste is important to me, but also the process.
If to choose one thing then it will be the right real beef steak, from meat of excellent quality with the right texture and always with smoke.
And from the menu of Selfish Club restaurant?
Whole baked duck! I cook it according to the same recipe that I was taught in Bavaria. This is a traditional German recipe, time-tested. We found the right duck, applied the knowledge, the right technological equipment and got excellent results. We cook it by pre-order.
Please tell us about the features of the menu.
Our feature is fresh fish. It is not subjected to freezing or delivery. Sturgeon, sterlet, pike, zander, catfish, and trout in the cold season are found in our club ponds. Fish appears in the kitchen five minutes after the catch, another half an hour later - at the guest's plate. This is our trump card.
Just imagine you caught a fish with caviar and in an hour we serve the freshest light-salted caviar with croutons and farmers butter. Without preservatives and dyes, directly from the reservoir. This is a completely different taste, different emotions!
Depending on season we introduce new items in the menu. For example, in summer we combined the sea and river themes and we got Thai soup with catfish or pike cutlets with shrimp sauce. Everyone knows the tastes from childhood be we did it in a modern interpretation.
But the basic positions always remain in the menu. There are guests who have been coming for their favorite dishes for more than three years.
What's new in the winter menu?
In winter we introduce more “heavy” dishes. For example, pea soup with smoked meat, potato pancakes with caviar and seasonal mushrooms. But the main emphasis is on fish which appears in our reservoirs only in the cold season.
We can boast of fresh rainbow and red trout from one kilogram to five. You can also catch northern fish here such as whitefish or muksun.
Does the menu have family recipes that, for example, were prepared by your grandmother or mother?
Of course, we have dishes that are familiar to everyone since childhood. You will not surprise anyone with cheesecakes and pancakes, but we add our own notes to classic recipes - for example, lemon zest. And then the ordinary dish takes on a new fresh taste. The devil is in the details.
Do you prefer local products or order from trusted manufacturers from abroad?
We buy meat in Transcarpathia farms in ecologically clean areas. We bring some types of caviar from Canada. We also have meat from Australia and New Zealand in our menu, tomatoes from Baku because there these products have a unique taste. The rest of the menu is based on local seasonal products.
Our goal is to completely switch to products grown on our land. Very soon, a greenhouse and a garden will open on Selfish Club territory. This year we have already tried some varieties of apples and berries ripened there. I hope that in the coming years we will be able to get by only with products grown on the club’s territory or purchased from local farmers from Kyiliv who do not add chemicals and use only organic fertilizers.
Can you share the secrets of cooking fish with our readers?
We want guests to get a real taste of fish and therefore use a minimum of seasonings and spices. While being at the table, guests can add salt to their taste, add more lemon or spices, but initially we serve a dish with an original taste. Small carps and crucians fried in cornflour, just like at home, are in big demand here. Also sturgeon steak or Kyiv- style trout are very popular. Freshness is a guarantee of taste!
Imagine that for the rest of your life you can only eat three dishes or products. What was that?
I think that it wil be fish, meat and vegetables. You can cook a huge number of dishes from these products, both simple and for celebration.
What would you recommend to a guest who first came to Selfish Club?
Of course, I will advise to try fish. This is the basis of our menu. And if a guest catches fish himself it will be doubly pleasant and tasty!