Public catering of Tatarstan 2023: ‘Violence of Tatar cuisine against human’ and English lessons for restaurateurs

Kazan catering is ready for the mega events of 2024, restaurateurs are combing schools in search of staff, chefs from Tatarstan are shining in the international arena

Public catering of Tatarstan 2023: ‘Violence of Tatar cuisine against human’ and English lessons for restaurateurs
Photo: Олег Тихонов

Tatarstan is going to have its own analogue of the Michelin guide

The 2023 year was very successful for Kazan restaurateurs, Galina Sharafutdinova, the director general of the Association of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Tatarstan, stated in a conversation with Realnoe Vremya on the sidelines of the Association of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers board of the Republic of Tatarstan. We need to thank a large tourist flow for this: 4 million people visited Kazan last year. By this point, the industry had already fully recovered from the pandemic, and the restaurants were already working fully for their economy, she said. Today, the Association consists of 260 catering enterprises, there are all key market players among them.

“We grow every month: for example, now two enterprises are under consideration. We want the restaurant industry to be represented by worthy players, so in order to join the Association, it is necessary to meet certain requirements. So refusals also happen," explains Galina Sharafutdinova.

By the way, about own requirements. The Association has a proposal: to develop a certification of food facilities, which will be based on the requirements of consumer preferences. A quality checklist has already been developed for the restaurant, according to which the institution will be awarded a certificate of conformity. The Michelin Guide is an advanced of its kind, but more of a marketing tool, according to Galina Sharafutdinova.

“We are in favour of making sure that a guest coming to a restaurant that has received a certification mark is confident in the safety of food and the quality of service. We are already preparing documents and standardisation tools. We have developed a project for the Center for the Development of Gastronomy, and we would like to implement certification of public catering enterprises on the basis of this center, within which we will give the market a clear benchmark, a quality standard. If we succeed to launch this system, we will be ready to scale to other regions of Russia," says the director general of the Association of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Tatarstan

Working with farmers and educating young people

In general, as discussed at the board meeting, the Association is facing approximately the same challenges as last year. Thus, there is still a serious task to strengthen work with farmers so that a diverse local product of stable quality is presented in restaurants. The Association of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Tatarstan works in this direction: they hold special sessions and events with Tatarstan farmers, develop ways and find opportunities for restaurants to work on products from local suppliers.

There is still a shortage of personnel in the restaurant industry. Restaurateurs continue to fight against it by working directly with the schools of the republic. For example, the president of the Association, Zufar Gayazov, said that free classes are held in schools in the Sovetsky and Novo-Savinovsky districts of Kazan, where children are taught the professions of barista and waiters. However, as Gayazov complained, for some reason, schoolchildren do not really want to become waiters en masse. But there is a good demand for barista training. Therefore, the president of the Association calls on fellow restaurateurs and all new Kazan schools to join the project, and as part of the course, combine both specialties and prepare generalists. At the end of March, in Tyulyachinsky district, the birthplace of the legendary Tatarstan chief, Yunus Akhmetzyanov, it is planned to hold a field school for students of interested schools. All this, according to Gayazov, will help in the future to fill the industry with the personnel it needs so much.

Integrating into KazanForum, working with the Ministry of Sports, and being proud of Tatarstan chefs

Together with the Guild of Chefs of the Republic of Tatarstan, the Association organises the Yunus Akhmetzyanov competition for young chefs — this helps both popularise the profession and identify new talents. After all, a good cook is also a very valuable asset in the market. Moreover, as Gayazov says, right now the issue of holding a competition named after Akhmetzyanov within the framework of the Russia — Islamic World forum (known since last year as KazanForum) is being discussed at the level of the republic's leadership.

According to Zufar Gayazov, plans are huge, because the Association turns 20 years old on April 23. The Association hopes to deepen relations with the Kazan Expo IEC and strengthen the Stars of Hospitality competition. An interesting proposal, according to Gayazov, came from the Tatarstan Ministry of Sports — it (oddly enough) about the organisation of an “interesting project on ethnic cuisine”.

And it is also planned to continue the victorious march of Tatarstan chefs through the arenas of international competitions. Let us remind that in 2023, the Association, together with the Guild of Chefs, performed at the Cup of Chefs of the Islamic World competition within the framework of KazanForum. Tatarstan chefs won the cup. After that, they were invited to a similar competition in Turkey, where in November Tatarstan won the Grand Prix. And now our “Akhmetzyanov's heirs” are invited to contests that are held under the patronage of the World Assembly of Turkic Peoples.

“Stop feeding us Tatar cuisine!”

Traditionally, representatives of the tourism sector took part in the board: head of the State Committee for Tourism Sergey Ivanov and his colleague in charge of Kazan, Daria Sannikova.

In his speech, Sergey Ivanov shared his memories of his brief experience in the field of catering: there, according to him, he experienced how hard and painstaking work it was. Ivanov thanked Tatarstan restaurateurs for their work and for that they manage to feed and please all those millions of tourists who poured into Kazan in the last five years.

Then he anxiously reminded me that Kazan had registered the title of the gastronomic capital of Russia “in advance”. Moreover, in this way it touched the ambitions of St. Petersburg restaurateurs (who later registered the brand of the “culinary capital of Russia”). The task of Tatarstan restaurateurs is to defend this brand in conditions of high competition for domestic tourists. Ivanov insisted: a paying audience is coming to us and the task of restaurateurs is to make sure that visiting guests of any level of wealth understand that they have visited the gastronomic capital, which rightfully holds this title.

“In principle, we are going well so far. But very often we receive various delegations not only from Russian regions, but also from abroad. Recently, we have started receiving complaints: “We have been in Tatarstan for three or four days now. Stop feeding us Tatar cuisine!” Indeed, if you think about it, the violence of Tatar cuisine on a person ends up with extra pounds. And everyone who comes to us says that everything is so delicious that their “lifebuoys” begin to grow," Sergey Ivanov stunned the audience, thus hinting at the need to diversify the range of establishments.

“We need to show that Kazan is the third capital, not just a gathering of enthusiasts”

Kazan has many major events ahead, during which the city will host a huge number of guests and delegates. These are the BRICS Games, KazanForum, and the BRICS summit. Representatives of the tourism industry warn: this means that guests of the leadership level of major countries will also come. Right now, according to Ivanov, the hotel fund is being reorganised: presidential rooms are being prepared, investments are being made in the arrangement.

“Naturally, the guests will go around Kazan, travel around the republic, and here they will get to your establishments. There your task is to meet them in English! This is still a sore point. And if the reception staff speaks English in hotels, then as soon as the guest leaves the hotel, problems begin: in shopping malls, grocery stores, and restaurants. People can't order food. And here our task is to learn how to work with such guests. To explain the menu, to tell a foreign guest what a particular dish is made of — this is still a task that has faded into the background due to the pandemic, and now it is going back to the foreground. And that's why we need to show that Kazan is really the third capital of Russia, not just a gathering of enthusiasts. Therefore, I ask you to pay attention to English, right in the near future. Ask yourself the question: “And if a foreigner comes, how will we meet them?"

“Crisis is always eaten up with sweets” and other gastrotrends

In an interview with our publication, Galina Sharafutdinova said that in 2023 the direction of gastronomy began to develop widely: the author's cuisine is on trend today. Popular establishments open in a small format — up to 40 seats.

|The menu in them is based on the concept of the chef, the emphasis is on unique dishes. There is a high turnover in such establishments, and this gives people the opportunity to get acquainted with new tastes and become participants in gastronomic experiments. I would like to draw your attention: although these are author's dishes, they are created on the basis of ingredients that are understandable and familiar to the visitor. They cannot be attributed to simple food, however, there is nothing completely unfamiliar in them — they are served with a different sauce (sometimes in the truest sense of the expression), surprise and delight guests. Besides, we see a steady trend of coffee shops and pastry shops.

Here our interlocutor repeats her point from last year that crises are always eaten up with sweets.

According to her, Kazan gastronomy is developing: more and more Moscow projects are coming to work in Tatarstan, and this is a good sign. As for the new bright stars in the restaurant sky, it is planned to open a new restaurant of Tatar cuisine in 2024. There is no oversaturation of such formats yet:

“There are simply no places in restaurants with Tatar cuisine during the season!

It is planned that the restaurant map of Kazan will expand. So, there will be new gastrolocations on Ostrovsky Street (in new residential complexes under construction). Residential areas will also develop in this regard, because now, as the Association states, people are already ready to choose locations near home for a family dinner or a romantic date, rather than going to the city centre for emotions and taste.

Lyudmila Gubaeva

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