I was born in Russia. During my childhood food was largely limited to root vegetables and dairy products (including those culinary delights processed cheese and condensed milk). My mother had to work hard to provide us with nutritious and imaginative meals. Food was a necessity, not a pleasure. Developing a passion for cooking, therefore, was unlikely as there was really nothing to cook with. No surprise, then, that my signature dish as a student was egg fried rice.
A decade later I moved to the West. The abundance of ingredients, flavours and smells was overwhelming. In my first couple of months “in freedom” my belt expanded to make room for all the new delicacies I was hungrily trying. With nobody around to teach me how to cook I took an academic approach to learning: cookery books. My first attempt to cook a proper meal involved following one of the recipes from Rick Stein's “Seafood” for a friend. It must have gone well as that friend is now my husband. Other books and recipes followed and my husband is still happy to act as a guinea pig for my adventures in the kitchen. Gradually I went from assiduously following the recipes in cookery books to creating new dishes, all the while amassing a large library of cookery books.
Eventually I decided it was time to add a proper foundation to my rather trial and error-based culinary skills. So I trained at the professional “Le Cordon Bleu” cookery school in London.
I love everything about food, from eating it to talking about it. My approach to cooking and eating is still partly academic. I love learning about ingredients, understanding why some recipes work and others don’t, which cooking technique is best for a particular product, why potatoes sometimes discolour after cooking (and how to avoid it), why sauces sometimes split if you add cream to them, which part of the tomato contains the most flavour, what makes a soufflé rise, when to season a steak.
I am also constantly on the lookout for new recipes, ingredients, and techniques with which to challenge myself; my guests often roll their eyes when they see all the equipment I have amassed in trying to recreate the recipes of Heston Blumenthal or Nathan Myrvhold! Having said that, while I love my gadgets and use them a lot, I feel strongly that it is important to master basic techniques before venturing into the more intricate methods of modern cuisine.
Tours for Cooks will introduce you to the culinary world of Germany and the UK. I will showcase local produce, historic places and people in both countries. From field to plate - I show you where food comes from and invite foodies, cooks and gourmands to explore the underrated culinaric diversity of German and British cuisine.
The Tours for cooks are ingredients-led: we travel to the places where the produce originates from and learn how to choose and prepare the best local food. You will visit quaint farms and dairies tucked into remote corners of the two countries, head out to sea with local fishermen and knead dough with artisan bakers to produce gorgeously fragrant fresh bread in the morning. In beautiful nature landscapes and authentic farms you get to know the country from a new perspective – to see it with a cook's eyes. With a professional guide we drop by into medieval castles, towers, historical towns and cities. And of course we will all cook the produce together under the guidance of a professional chef.
Tours for Cooks last from three to five days. We travel in small groups of 4-6 like-minded people - people who love to eat and to cook. If you live in Europe you can catch an easy flight to London or to Frankfurt for a weekend tour. If you fly in from further away, a five day tour will give you a more comprehensive taste experience.
The group accommodation varies from hotels and luxury apartments to cottages and real castles according to the program. They are carefully curated and pre-booked for the whole group with a private room for each participant and a large communal kitchen for cookery master classes. The accomodation is included in the tour price.
We travel in a van with a private driver. The transfer for the duration of the tour is pre-booked for the whole group. We also can arrange a personal greeting for you at the airport upon request. Flights to and from the starting point of the tour as well as visa support are not included, but we can help organise them too.
All excursions, tastings, picnics and tickets are included in the price excl. alcoholic beverages where they are not part of the tastings. I offer you my Tours for Cooks in English, German and Russian.
I thoroughly study the route and the history of the places we visit, to be able share with you loads of interesting facts and culinary background. I also personally know all producers we meet on tour so my groups feel very welcome at all times.
Just select the dates for your visit and I will take care of everything else.