Chef of the Week: Chef Vladislav Djatsuk, Tchaikovsky and Mon Repos, Tallinn
The Tchaikovsky restaurant, in beautiful Old Town Tallinn, is eponymous with Estonian luxury dining.
It is located in a magnificent building that houses the 5-star Telegraf Hotel, a building that dates back to the late 19 century. Inspired by its historical setting, the restaurant provides a menu that adapts the culinary tastes of the 1800’s Russian elite.
Mon Repos is a top-rated restaurant located in the historical Vila Mon Repos, neighboring Tallinn’s Kadrioru park.
Vladislav is also president of Bochuse d’Or Estonia, the local chapter of the famed international culinary competition.
1. What inspired you to become a chef?
My granny was the best home cook. She taught herself to cook, and even grew her own food!
2. Where did you train to cook?
I graduated Tallinn Culinary College and then trained in quite a few kitchens of the best restaurants in Europe.
3. Tell us a bit about Estonian cuisine? What makes it special and what are the top Estonian dishes we absolutely need to try out?
Estonian gastronomy has seen major growth during the last decade. We use lots of clean and local produce from our woods, fields and waters. We’re influenced very much by a seasonal menu, as we enjoy four distinct seasons in Estonia.
Traditional Estonian food is very delicious but uses easy combinations, e.g. black bread with yeast and cumin; crispy sour cabbage salad with cranberries; breaded Baltic herring with sour cream; Kama (finely milled flour) with buttermilk and blueberries…
As I said, we operate throughout the four seasons and our food in summer and fall is much more varied than in winter. Estonians therefore quite often use food which is marinated, pickled, smoked, cured, etc.
Some food cycles are extremely short: strawberries are available only in June-July, and morels only for a few weeks in May!
5. Tells us a bit about the luxury dining scene in Estonia. How developed is it and what are customers looking for in fine dinning?
Fine dining has developed pretty fast these days as cooks travel around and many guests (locals and tourists) get excited with the ideas they bring back! Most customers simply want to enjoy a comfortable experience, honest cuisine and professional high-level service.
6. Tell us about your work at the Mon Repo? What is the concept and what was the inspiration for the menu?
Mon Repos’ Chef’s Floor is meant for a more refined taste and intimate ambiance and where tasting menus are served. The only decision to be made is whether to go for 4 or 6 courses 🙂 (Of course, on all menus, intermezzo and petit fours follow.)
Something totally off the menu is also available but only if pre-ordered. I have the freedom to do whatever I feel like – I take inspiration from my travels, my daily experiences, everyday work and love!
7. What’s the most popular item on the menu at Tchaikovsky?
Roast venison with smoked beetroot and black currant and juniper berry sauce.
8. You are regarded as one of the best Estonian chefs. What sets a top chef apart from the pack?
In my opinion we’re all different. My biggest and also toughest experience was representing Estonia on Bocuse D’Or – I was the first Estonian ever to compete.
9. Do you have a signature dish or a favorite dish that you enjoy cooking?
Lightly pine smoked wild salmon with roe, tarragon cream, and apple cider jelly. A chocolate bar with blackcurrant and cardamom ice cream. Tamarind plum cake and ginger yogurt ice cream.
10. Do you follow food trends? If so, what is the top trend for 2020 and what’s next for 2021 and onward?
I don’t follow trends. I follow tasty and true food.
11. What advice would you give someone who wants to become a successful chef?
Follow your heart, work hard and love what you do!