Interview of Chef Instructor Stanislav Kubarev for the winter edition of “Food and Drinks for Tourism” 2022
- Chef Kubarev, you have been working in the field of culinary art for more than 15 years. Are there still secrets for you in this area? What else would you like to know and discover?
Hello, thank you for your questions! Without any doubt learning about food, about culinary world, traditions, cuisines, food products, new techniques and technologies – it is a lifetime journey. I always say to my students: if you get a culinary diploma, it doesn’t mean you are restricted only to a job at the restaurant, you can be a food critique, instructor, blogger, food photographer, personal chef, food scientist and much more! There are endless opportunities for self-development in this field. Personally, I am interested in food history, I also make culinary videos and food photos.
2. What is the specific importance of food in relation to a country or a tourist site?
We can say that the food is the only type of art you can consume with all your senses. You can smell it, you can see it, you can touch it, you can taste it, you can even hear it sizzling on a sach pan or crunch of bread crust. It is an ultimate experience, that you can get while visiting new countries, new places. It can help you to understand better the culture and history of the place. If the tourist site was interesting and the food was great – you will remember it for the rest of your life, you might even want to come back one day just to experience it again.
3. Can certain trends in tourist food be outlined? What is always fundamental? And what is new and modern?
I would say that, tourist food trends are following global food trends, as you receive tourist from all over the world you have to cater for all the specific religious and health diets and needs of your guests. So, if, some foods like avocado or kale become popular around the world for their nutrition value you should think on including these items into your menu, even if those are not local and common for your territory, as people will be looking for it.
Fundamental part, in my opinion, should be in having some classic, traditional dishes that represent terroir and local tastes, along with world known dishes that can be with a touch of locality, but still be easy to recognize for those tourists who are very conservative with what they like to eat.
New and modern in this case can be the way dishes are plated, might be with a use of molecular cuisine elements (not too much though!), fashion for this is changing every few years, so chefs have to research, follow or even create trends to look modern. Part of the menu can be fusion or author cuisine where chefs can demonstrate their creativity and offer something that stands out from local or world classics.
4. Where in this context are the Bulgarian products for tourism in terms of nutrition? What would you advise – on the one hand, the companies offering products for the HORECA branch, and on the other hand – the catering specialists in the tourist sites so that they can become or remain competitive on the market?
In terms of nutrition, Bulgarian products for tourism are a great deal, as they cover all the basic culinary needs. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables grown here locally as well as dairy products, honey, wine, seafood and fish, you name it! It is a land of plenty, but, unfortunately, many food suppliers prefer to import products from neighbor countries, for some reasons. As current food trends are about locality (there is even a new term locavore, meaning a person who prefers to eat only local food), to stay competitive HORECA companies and catering specialists should try not only to work with local producers, but to advertise them, showcase their work and make shared events. This way, their customers can see from where comes the food, how it is made and brought to their tables.
5. Is there a specific aspect to the meals in the winter tourist sites? Should a meal be tailored to the profile of the tourist – one who enjoys winter sports, active, spending many hours outdoors and in the cold?
By all means yes! In winter times, especially with a heavy workout outdoors we all would like a hearty meal after, something warm and cozy to give our bodies enough energy for the next day. But in the meantime, there should be some options in the menu for those who wants to grab a light lunch in between their sports and not to feel over encumbered, like salads or light soups. And let’s not forget about kids’ menus, as people often come to such places with whole family.
6. If you were a chef at a tourist site, what would be your basic rules and requirements regarding the product you want to offer to the tourists?
I would want my products to be from the local producers as much as possible, of course, quality first. It has to be nutritiously rich and represent local culture. I would plan my menu to be one third with dishes common for the area, one third from other areas of the country and the last third – world known classics for those who doesn’t like to experiment with food.
7. Could you share, this time from the point of view of a tourist, when, where and how you were last positively surprised in terms of nutrition and catering?
Just recently we were on vacation with my family in Turkey and ate out in few places in touristic parts of Istanbul, there food was good, but nothing special. But one night we were staying in a hotel near old airport and we were recommended to go to eat in a restaurant across the road. First, I was pessimistic about it as the entrance was just a small door next to the entrance to the gas station, but as we went in, we found the stairs leading to a vast hall with an outside area, like a private garden with a small waterfall and pond. The service was exceptional and food was delicious, fresh and local. As a compliment for the meal we got sheep cheese and a paste that my wife immediately fell in love with. It was a tahini paste with addition of grape molasses called Uzum pekmezi and we bought some for home from local market later. Overall, it was great experience to eat local dishes well made with fresh products and good service and still learn about new tasty food product. (I hope it is ok, that I am talking about Turkish cuisine here, but you asked me about my recent experience and that is the one.)
8. You know the cuisine of dozens of nations and countries. With what characteristics and peculiarities can Bulgarian cuisine attract tourists from around the world?
I would say that top qualities of Bulgarian cuisine that should attract tourists are freshness and quality of the products, variety of different flavors in the cuisine and lots of hidden gems, like liutenitsa, Elenski but, smilyanski bob, zeleno sirene, kiselo mliako, and, of course, amazing variety of great wines and rakias. All these great products should be better represented to the world to attract tourists. Another benefit of Bulgarian cuisine is a wide range of ingredients used in the dishes. It is not built around single product, like rice in some Asian cuisines, but has dishes with rice, potato, corn, other vegetables – you won’t get tired of eating same dishes every day. I would just give an advice to the catering specialist: Please, stop garnishing every dish with French fries, there are other ways to cook potatoes and plenty of it!