Chef D.Buyan shares his vision for Mongolian culinary art

Trans. by B.DULGUUN

D.Buyan is a young talented Mongolian chef who recently won “Master Chef”, a Mongolian cooking show. He has 12 years of experience working as a professional chef and now, he works as the head chef of Mone Restaurant of Mongolia Gourmet and Catering LLC. 
He studied culinary for three years at a university in Luzern, Switzerland and earned his master’s degree in kitchen management after another two years of training. Since then, he completed professional and intensive training courses for pastry making and menu planning. Before returning to Mongolia in 2014, he used to work at Restaurant Adelboden in Schlagstrasse, Switzerland, which received two stars from inspectors of the prestigious Michelin Guide. It is said that receiving a Michelin Star is one of the greatest honors a restaurant can receive, with a three-star review being the highest rating. 
The following is an interview with chef D.Buyan covering wide range of topics related to cooking.

Congratulations on winning “Master Chef” television show. You participated in the show not long after returning from Switzerland. Why did you decide to compete in the show?

I saw an advertisement of “Master Chef” on Facebook and decided to take part in it. My motive was to make people understand that food and culinary are a form of art. Aside from the food itself, plating is also very important. To me, decorating and plating the food is an exhilarating but tense moment measured by seconds just like changing tires during a car race. The moment of plating food feels like a race against time.
I usually designate time for cooking each dish, especially when I receive several orders at the same time. All chefs probably do this. The kitchen is a paramilitary place. Everything must be clean and organized. It must maintain a high standard of cleanliness and hygiene. Seventy percent of kitchen work is cleaning and the remaining 30 percent is cooking. I wanted to teach all of this to other people.

How many chefs do you work with at Mone Restaurant?

Our restaurant has 16 chefs. Each chef has their own duties. One person takes charge of soups, a different person takes charge of deserts, another takes charge of salads and so on. The kitchen used to run under European standards before I was employed at Mone Restaurant. I’m doing my best to keep this standard and make sure it isn’t lost.

Nowadays, many young people in Mongolia are interested in moving to foreign countries. You had a good job and seemed to be living well in Switzerland. Why did you move back to Mongolia?

I came to Mongolia with three big goals. My first goal is to build a member club network similar to the one my previous occupation in Switzerland had. That restaurant operates many branches in different countries and famous politicians and celebrities such as George Clooney, Roger Federer and Tina Turner are frequent customers of their branch restaurants. However, the restaurant doesn’t have a branch in Asia.
Haute Member Club is a club that unites restaurants operating its own branch restaurants and hotels in various countries and has customers pay for their meals and services a year in advance. To put it simply, it’s a network where only members of the club can pay a fee in advance and receive services at hotels and restaurants in different countries without having to pay immediately after dining.
The restaurant where I worked in had branch hotels and restaurants in not only the USA and Australia, but also in South Africa. But then I found out that the Haute Member Club doesn’t have a single branch in Asia. It did open one in Shanghai but it was closed down.
Hardly anyone in Mongolia knows that such a network exists. I developed a project so that I can open a branch of the Switzerland restaurant I used to work at in Mongolia and returned to my home country after discussing it with the CEO and directors of the restaurant. The project had become ready and a research on Mongolia’s market was completed, but the reality was slightly different. The Mongolian economy was facing difficulties and finding a location for a new restaurant and hotel turned out to be the most problematic issue. Getting a premise in Ulaanbaatar wasn’t as easy as I thought.

What happened to the project to build a branch of that restaurant in Mongolia? Has it been canceled?

No. It has been temporarily postponed.
My second goal for returning to Mongolia was to establish a high level restaurant and receive a star from Michelin Guide, an organization that reviews restaurants. Also, I want to have Mongolia and a Mongolian restaurant mentioned in the famous book published by this organization.
Thirdly, I aspire to introduce classic French cuisines that meet European standards to the Mongolian catering industry, recreate classic French recipes with ingredients in Mongolian and promote them.
In the future, I aspire to participate in international cooking competitions with a Mongolian professional team and add the arts of cooking classic French dishes to the training program of Mongolian culinary institutes. In addition, I hope to teach theories and practices related to cooking to Mongolian chefs.

Does Mongolia have any restaurants with a star from Michelin Guide?

There isn’t even a one-star restaurant in Mongolia. Becoming a high level restaurant means having professional chefs, a unique environment with its own style and design, and one-of-a-kind menu.
I aspire to demonstrate the capability and skills of Mongolian chefs to foreign high-ranking representatives who are visiting or living in Mongolia. My biggest goal is to cook with Mongolian traditional products and be recognized as the first starred chef of Mongolia.

In your opinion, how developed is the Mongolian catering industry compared to international standards? What would you recommend for improving this industry?

I noticed that many things need to be done in the catering industry of Mongolia. I wish to develop the industry gradually through small reforms.
I, too, have many things to learn from Mongolian chefs. I’m planning to study spices, seasonings and plants that grow in Mongolia and mainly use them in the food and catering industry. The equipment and technology used to produce food seems quite outdated. I’d like to emphasize that updating the technology and being able to operate it will help improve the quality and taste of food. I will put my utmost effort to bring my occupation to a high level and make people understand what it is to be a professional chef.

Lately, Mongolians have begun to put great significance to healthy diets. What is a healthy diet?

A person must eat six meals a day according to healthy eating guidelines. This doesn’t mean eating meat for all six meals of the day. We need to eat different types of food. You need to adjust your intake of fruits, deserts, snacks and dairy products.
An example of a healthy diet would be having breakfast at around 7:00 a.m. when you wake up, at around 9:00 a.m. you have to eat some type of fruit and consume food with enough calories. People doing physical labor should eat around 3,500 to 4,000 calories while those who work at offices should get 2,000 calories from their lunch. Fish and chicken are most suitable for getting this amount of calories. Later, at around 4:00 p.m., you should eat something light like a sandwich. It doesn’t matter whether it has meat or not. At around 7:00 p.m., you should eat things such as fruits, cheese, salad and yoghurt rather than a meaty dish.
Following this diet will help people keep not only their stomach healthy but all of their organs healthy, and receive enough nutrition from fruit. Everyone should remember healthy eating means not eating too much or too little.

There’s a saying that food is art. But some people believe that there’s no need to decorate food as it will just go into the stomach in the end. Can you tell us why it’s necessary to view food as an art form and what it takes to make it into an art?

It would be unfortunate if a cuisine is unappealing and doesn’t arouse an appetite no matter how tasty it is. We first judge things by their appearance. Food that will make people want to eat it contains the philosophy of the chef. A chef’s plan of his recipe, including what ingredients will go in and how it will look, taste and be cooked, is art itself.  It requires a considerable amount of effort. Cuisine decorations have an important impact on the reaction of customers. Making people feeling like it would be a waste to eat a wonderfully decorated cuisine is art itself and this demonstrates the skills of a chef. The fact that it might be some sort of a philosophy makes the cuisine an art.

Each nation has its own way of cooking. Since you returned to your home country, have you been making dishes that highlight the taste of Mongolian vegetables, fruits and meat? Do you have your own recipe?

Of course, I do. Every cuisine I make is mine and Mone Restaurant’s recipe. The most important ingredient in my recipes is my effort and the heart to make it delicious. A chef’s recipe must be made differently than others, have a unique taste and smell, and be presented differently. But I wouldn’t insist strictly on my own recipe if another restaurant has changed one part of the recipe. For example, if they’ve changed the potato mash with cabbage, I wouldn’t say it’s my recipe because in culinary arts, changing a single ingredient changes the overall taste and becomes a different dish. In this case, it no longer becomes my recipe.

Source: olloo.mn

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=18528

Posted by on Feb 23 2016. Filed under Prime Interview. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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