Belfast Telegraph

'The salt box gave way over the stock... it was terrible'

Ella Walker talks to Russian cook Alissa Timoshkina about her culinary recollections

Alissa Timoshkina
Alissa Timoshkina

It is Alissa Timoshkina's intent to bring Russian cuisine to far more tastebuds than are currently familiar with it.

We caught up with the British-based pop-up restaurant cook and supper-club host (below), whose debut cookbook Salt & Time explores the food of her childhood - and really celebrates beetroot.

Her earliest memory of food is...

"We went on a holiday to Sochi, the Black Sea resort, and there was a canteen that made dumplings and a sweet honey drink - I think it was literally hot water with honey, maybe a bit of lemon, but I loved it so much and I invented a name for it, like 'dumpling-honey drink'. It was my first holiday. I think I turned three years old there. I have so many vivid flashes, like being in the sea with my grandfather and tasting the honey drink."

Her culinary high moment is...

"It was a big challenge last January. I was invited to do a residency at this pop-up experience called Nuclear Winter - there was a theatre company doing site-specific plays and immersive experiences.

"They rented a big warehouse and designed it as Soviet Russia in the Sixties. You had to get a visa to get in and there was a dining area where people could book into a supper club.

"They invited me to be the chef to curate the dining area. It was for a whole month, so every week I thought I'd do a different part of the Soviet Union.

"That was a fun idea, but I didn't think about how much work it would be to change the menu all the time.

"I think we had 500 to 600 people (eat with us throughout the residency), which to me, who's not a professional chef, to undertake the whole thing, it was quite huge."

The worst disaster she's ever had in the kitchen is...

"I've had loads. I was helping Olia Hercules (author of cookbook Mamushka) on a dinner, and I was in charge of making this stock. I went to salt it and the box of salt had been sat in a damp patch and had soaked through, and the bottom gave way over the stock. It was terrible, but we managed to scoop it out quickly, and it was rescued."

Salt & Time: Recipes From A Russian Kitchen by Alissa Timoshkina, published by Mitchell Beazley, priced £25

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