William & Mary Dining Services welcomed Russian Chef Sergey Malyshev to the campus Oct. 20 and 21 as part of its Global Chef Program.
The Global Chef Program is a month-long international chef residency that provides an opportunity for Sodexo’s top chefs worldwide to travel to different countries and share authentic international cuisine with students, faculty, staff and the community.
Food writer and Soviet émigré Anya von Bremzen, author of Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, reports there’s a nostalgia or retro appeal to cooking from the Soviet era, but 35-year-old Malyshev, standing more than 6-feet tall with dimples and an engaging smile, represents in demeanor and culinary style a fresh and innovative look forward.
For about an hour Oct. 20, the pumpkin-themed foyer of Marketplace at the Campus Center gave way to nesting dolls and lacquered spoons, as the Global Chef Program brought a little bit of St. Petersburg to campus.
Accompanied by his translator, Kate Teplova, Malyshev invited curious students and staff to taste braised beef with sauerkraut and freshly made cranberry juice. Although some approached with more enthusiasm than others, the consensus was that although not typical lunch fare, the flavors were subtle and delicious and definitely unexpected.
Asked about some of the differences in cuisine, Malyshev commented through his translator, that Americans use “lots of spices,” not only salt and pepper but other, stronger seasonings, such as bay leaves. Meat is still an important part of a Russian’s diet, but they usually braise and stew the meat, rather than grill it.
And although he says his favorite dish to prepare is pork shish kebabs, Malyshev eats simply at home: “Soup. Every day.” Yet when asked what American food he was looking forward to trying, Malyshev didn’t hesitate: “American steak.”
The son of a carpenter and seamstress, Malyshev was born in a small town near St. Petersburg and started his career in catering. He joined Sodexo in 2006 and since then has been a permanent member of the Chef Guild in St. Petersburg, won the “Golden Culina” competition and has participated as a judge for all Sodexo chefs’ regional competitions.
William & Mary Dining Services hosted multiple events during Malyshev’s visit to William & Mary, beginning with the tasting at the Marketplace. He later prepared dinner at Commons Monday and at Sadler on Tuesday. Students were offered multiple options, including: chicken chakhokhbili in garlic sauce, baked eggplant with tomato sauce and feta, couscous with pumpkin, Leningrad rassolnik with pearl barley.
Catherine Donatone, marketing manager for William & Mary Dining, was clearly delighted with the event and future possibilities.
“William & Mary Dining Services believes in the importance of broadening students’ culinary experiences through the Global Chef Program and will bring more multicultural opportunities in the future,” she said.Other chefs in the program represent Poland, Chile, Mexico, England, Germany, Finland, India, Malaysia and Australia.