Alexander Tregubenko: "Azerbaijani cuisine has huge prospects"
Baku is currently hosting the World Congress of Islamic Chefs. President of the Kazakh Association of Chefs, Alexander Tregubenko, discussed Islamic culinary traditions in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza on the sidelines of the event.
- What do you think about organization of this Congress in Baku?
- Baku has a very friendly atmosphere. We see that people really made a lot of efforts to ensure that this event is held at the highest level. I'm sure that these days will be productive and interesting for everyone. This year I came here alone, but I think the next time our team from Kazakhstan will come.
- Do you think there's a need to promote national cuisines of Islamic countries?
- Of course. Islamic cooking in general is very diverse and tasty. There are more than 120 nationalities living in Kazakhstan, there's a very large variation of cuisines, some are mixed up with each other, and some remain authentic. This Congress is supposed to show and popularize halal cuisine, and I think that it will find great response and demand in Kazakhstan. These products familiar to us, and at the same time the dishes are new and interesting.
While we all lived in the Soviet Union, no one really knew and didn't understand what halal is, but today halal cuisine is gaining popularity. The idea of this Congress to certify restaurants and award them certain halal status, halal star, will be supported by everyone. Many tourists come to Kazakhstan, and they only eat halal food, so it's very important for them that there are places where they can relax, that there are restaurants where they can safely come and eat halal food. That's why the idea of this Congress will find a lot of support.
- How Kazakh cuisine is presented in the world?
- Kazakh cuisine is pretty unique, it's very difficult to present it in the restaurant menu, because almost all dishes are cooked for a very long time, there's a lot of meat. Kazakh cuisine mainly uses horse meat, which is why it's very difficult to spread it around the world, because horse meat is not eaten everywhere. Of course, it's very tasty, during all contests and other events that our team organizes people always like dishes of Kazakh cuisine, and many people come to Kazakhstan in other to try our traditional dishes.
- What do you think about Azerbaijani cuisine?
- Azerbaijani cuisine is one of my favorites. I have a lot of Azerbaijani friends in Almaty, and they always treat me when we meet. There's a variety, it's a tasty and healthy cuisine, which uses a lot of vegetables and herbs. I think that Azerbaijani cuisine has huge prospects.
I really love Azerbaijani dolma, local pilaf and, of course, kebabs. I think that Azerbaijanis have the most delicious kebabs. There are a lot of Azerbaijani restaurants in Kazakhstan with emphasis on kebabs, which is understandable, because everyone in Kazakhstan eats meat. Salads, appetizers, and soups are also very tasty.
- What's more popular in Kazakhstan - local or foreign cuisine?
- Since Kazakhstan is a big country, preferences and recipes vary from region to region. For example, famous Kazakh beshbarmak is cooked differently everywhere - it is made using sturgeon and is called fishbarmak in the west, in other regions it is made only using horse meat, somewhere it is made using camel meat, somewhere people use goose. In general, I can't say that Kazakhs prefer only national cuisine. You can go to a Korean restaurant and see many Kazakhs there, or go to Azerbaijani restaurant, where Kazakhs will definitely fill up half of the hall. We try and eat everything that we like. At home, especially on holidays, it's customary to cook dishes of Kazakh national cuisine.