Unique recipe prepared for culinary holiday

Tasty Blog Festival held in Minsk
By Oksana Shevchenko

Belarus is full of expectation in the lead up to the Ice Hockey World Championship in May 2014. Gathering thousands of foreign visitors, it will place our country in the limelight. Moreover, many of those who visit will go on to attend the winter Olympic Games in Sochi, giving them the opportunity to compare our reception and that of Sochi.

Since some fans will be travelling hundreds, and even thousands, of kilometres, it’s important that accommodation, meals and, the organisation of cultural-informative activities are excellent. It’s time for home culinary specialists to excel. Cooks, confectioners, barmen and waiters have begun to perfect their skills at professional competitions, master classes and exhibitions. One such is the Tasty Blog Festival, recently held in the capital.

Irina Narkevich, the Deputy Minister for Trade, notes that this festival provides more than entertainment, also being a trial run for next year. She tells us, “The honour of specialists in these spheres and the image of our country will depend in many respects on the work of domestic services and public catering, who should present their professional skills at the highest level. They should remember that they need to feed a huge army of participants and visitors to the championship, with not simply tasty food but food of high quality, quickly prepared and to suit every pocket.”

‘Golden Coat’ — to Milan!
Those who love to walk the shady avenues of the capital’s Gorky Park, visiting its amusements, recently had the chance to take part in the wonderful culinary holiday. On the banks of the River Svisloch, huge kitchens operated under awnings on Saturday and Sunday, conjuring up various exclusive dishes, accompanied by exotic smells; these overwhelmed the habitual smells of popcorn, shish kebab and pancakes.

The first ever national Golden Coat-2013 event saw the country’s best cooks displaying their skills individually, judged by well-known Belarusian and foreign experts. Gabriel, an independent international adviser and member of the Association of Italian Cooks, tells us, “I was a jury member at the first culinary festival, which was held last year. I like to visit your country, to share ideas with Belarusian colleagues. Apparently, this beautiful event will become a traditional fixture in your country so I hope we’ll return many times. It’s comfortable here and you can feel culture everywhere. As for Belarusian cuisine, I like all the old, traditional recipes — ‘grandmother’s cooking’ as I call it — as only natural products and spices are used.”

The Golden Coat-2013 competition saw chefs continue cooking until late evening, resulting in Vyacheslav Fedyuk taking the title of ‘Best Head Chef’. He usually works at one of the capital’s restaurants and will soon be heading to a major culinary expo in Milan as part of his prize. He’ll also be undertaking free training at the Culinary Academy of the Kievan Association of Head Chefs.

Star kitchen
Stars of Belarusian sport, pop music and media took part, having a ‘celebrity cook off’ on day two of the event. Two teams of four had the challenge of demonstrating their culinary art within a one-hour window, for presentation to the jury. Each team was required to produce meat and fish dishes, as well as a salad and dessert. Well-known Belarusian biathlete Darya Domracheva admitted her love for cooking in her spare time. Her exotic yet easy salad — with ruccola, pear and Circassian walnut — looked delicious.

When asked about her favourite local dish, she answered without hesitation, “Okroshka — also called kholodnik.” On the subject of healthy eating as a sportswoman, Darya admitted that no ‘special’ diet is necessary; she simply ensures that ingredients are fresh and simple, providing a balance diet and the necessary energy.

The celebrity dishes were tasted by members of the public, as well as the jury, and all those taking part received praise: their prize was the simple pleasure of taking part in the wonderful festival and sharing their love of cooking. 
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