Christian De Nadai:

Cooking is an emotional process between the chef and the guest

Christian de Nadai is a young talented chef from Vittorio Veneto. He acquired his superior culinary skills while traveling around the world in search of priceless experiences and adventures. He wasn't planning to stay in Moscow, but felt a special connection with the city and spent more than three years working as an Executive Sous Chef at Four Seasons Moscow. Christian de Nadai talked about what he discovered in the Russian capital and where he gets his inspiration in an interview with Capital Ideas.

Christian, tell us when and why you came to Russia?

I came to Russia almost 3 years ago. At the time I was working in Dubai, and this city did not meet my expectations. Russia has never been on my plan, but somehow when I came to know about this opportunity many things brought me to the final decision to come over. Mainly the decision was driven by the people who were behind the project, and by the feeling of getting into a new cultural environment, which is always interesting for a chef in terms of growth.

What were your first impressions about the country?

What really caught my attention was the strong sense of belonging to the origins and roots, mixed with a very fast growing tendency in many areas, including in the food industry.

Why did you decide to stay and work here?

I have worked across 6 different countries over the past 15 years. I can easily say that the main reason for my decision to stay was the feeling between the city and myself. Moscow is a very modern city, which offers lots of opportunities. There are 24-hour shops, gyms, parks, cultural events, and it is a very safe place day and night. Working here is very challenging sometimes, but I’ve grown a lot during my time here because I’ve met a lot of professional people, many of them from Russia.

What other countries have you worked in? What is the difference between Russia and other countries you’ve worked in?

I’ve worked in Asia, Europe, North Africa, South America, and Middle East before Moscow. In my job I have to say there is not so much difference. In the end food industry is very similar everywhere, and Russia is no exception.

What was a pleasant surprise for you here?

I was very surprised by the quality of food here. There are a lot of restaurants with amazing concepts and design, and a lot of young Russian chefs who do an excellent job and put Moscow on the map of top gastronomic destinations.

What was your biggest disappointment?

What disappoints me most is lack of sun during the year here.

What kind of difficulties have you faced here?

I have faced the classic challenges that everybody faces when they try to integrate themselves in a new place. Language barrier, opening a bank account, going to the doctor, using transportation, and so on... However, Russian people have always been polite and ready to help me. I appreciate that.

Do you miss your country? What do you miss the most?

I came from Italy and I left the country when I was 20 years old. What I miss more about Italy is the way the time goes by slowly compared to all other countries, and for sure the ingredients and the climate, which is probably the biggest challenge here to get used to.

Do you think that working in Russia is a good option for a foreigner?

Russia is a fast growing market in my opinion. There is a lot of energy pouring into and developing and creating new business. Russians are willing to get knowledge from other countries in order to develop the Russian market. I have learned how to organize my work better and following the advice of Russian colleagues I really learned how to delegate more to my employees.

What advice can you give to those who are planning to come here?

One of my Italian colleagues who came here almost 20 years ago told me in the very beginning “in Russia you have to take 3 steps back, before taking 5 steps forward”….and so far it is true. That’s why I recommend coming here with an open mind, understanding the system, and then eventually creating some kind of customized solution that works.

What are your favorite dishes?

I love to cook Spaghetti Garlic, chilli, and olive oil… an Italian classic. These simple ingredients turn into something amazing together. However, my favorite food to eat is Pizza… I can’t live without it.

What do you teach your subordinates?

We are working constantly on our recipes, internal training, and product knowledge. In Europe the number of ingredients is much bigger than on the Russian market and it is our task to pass all the right information to our employees. We are always pushing them to taste what they prepare, it is the only way to get better at cooking. Cooking is an emotional process between the cook and the person eating the food. I always ask them “Do you like it”? Would you prepare it for yourself?

What are you dreaming about?

My ultimate goal and dream is to visit Peru and learn how they cook. It has always been a destination in my mind and somehow I will maybe get there after Moscow!



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