Interview with Sergey and Ivan Berezutsky

04 Mar 2019
Until recently, in most people’s minds Russian cuisine was mostly just borsch, pelmeni and beef stroganoff. But a new generation of talented and creative chefs is challenging this notion. At the forefront are the twin brothers Sergey and Ivan Berezutsky. Twins Garden, their aptly-named restaurant, is an upgrade from Twins, which was wildly popular from the day it opened. Apart from doing nothing short of magic in the kitchen, the brothers (unsatisfied with the quality of Russian produce) have also opened their own farm in Kaluga Region to ensure that all their ingredients at the restaurant are the best they can be. We got the privilege to have a chat with them about food, food and more food! 

- When did you get the idea to open your own restaurant?
- Twins Garden is the result of our whole culinary career. This is what we've been heading towards our whole professional lives. It's our ideal restaurant, the one we always had imagined in our minds, it's the reflection and the realization of all the thoughts and ideas that came to us along the way. It's the restaurant that we always dreamed of opening and the result of our experience, desires and needs.
- Was it hard? What obstacles did you encounter?
- There's always more than enough difficulties but we overcame them and opened the restaurant. Twins Garden is not a restaurant in the conventional sense of the word. It's 70% our own logistics, including our very own farm and direct shipments from the Russian Far East. It's also 70% of the wine that we bought and brought over personally. It's a restaurant with its own coffee - it's selected especially for us and we roast it ourselves. Each of these phases was thought through down to the most minute detail. The farm, well, that was the hardest part of it all. The reality is that in Russian we have virtually no agricultural enterprises that are focused on quality. There are a few separate farms, but they're not that numerous in Russia yet.
- You have a very creative approach to Russian food. Is there a dish that you wouldn't want to change at all? Your grandma's borsch, for example?
- We would never want to change babushka's borsch - it's absolutely perfect! Actually, we don't change existing dishes. Instead, we create totally new ones. The dishes that have by now become staples of Russian cuisine or those that we grew up on, they have already been created and there's no point changing them. Taking recipes and re-imagining them is a pointless task in our opinion. If they've been around for so long, why change them? 
- What is your favorite Russian food?
- Sergey: Probably babushka's (grandma's) borsch.
- Ivan: You can argue about Russian food for a long time - which dish is truly Russian and which isn't? I personally love salted mushrooms. They're very tasty.
- What's the most interesting part of Russia in terms of food?
- Undoubtedly the south. There people understand what good quality, tasty products are and they know how to then prepare them.
- How hard is it to work with your twin brother? Do you always get along in the kitchen or are there some tense moments?
- It can definitely be difficult at times. We don't always get along but we're used to it. This set up has its pluses and minuses just like any other partnership.
- And now a bit about your farm. How often are you there? And do you take part in all the processes that go on there (like milking the cows, goats, etc.?)
- We are firm believers that each job should be carried out by a professional. Milking cows and goats, taking care of their diet, making sure they go for walks and have comfortable and clean living quarters with fresh air but without any drafts - we have specially trained professionals for this. Of course we take part in the harvest of vegetables and fruits. But if you want to know if we've ever milked a goat - yes, yes we have! And we didn't manage that too well [both laugh]! 
- What are your culinary plans for the future?
- We want to keep growing and developing our farm first and foremost. And just develop and grow professionally in general. We also want to take part in developing the agriculture sector of our country by leading by example, as much as that is possible, and we want to popularize quality Russian produce on the international arena.
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