HomeChef InterviewsFive Minutes With Alexei Zimin Having recently opened his Russian street food restaurant – Zima – in Soho, we chat to award-winning chef, author and TV food presenter Alexei Zimin, to discover more about his culinary inspirations, career background and kitchen idols. Tell us about your culinary background… I have been cooking since I was five years old and for the last 20 years, I have been thinking about it with the level of detail usually required for atom bomb manufacture rather just merely knocking out a simple omelette. What’s the inspiration behind Zima, your new Soho restaurant? Soho is one giant restaurant which up until now, had every cuisine represented in its menu – apart from Russian. I wanted to change this, and that’s where the idea for Zima came about. Which dish would you recommend on Zima’s menu? Easy – Beef Stroganoff. I reinvented this classic dish in such a way that not only did not lose any of its original components, but instead acquired a new interesting dimension which differentiates it from any other Beef Stroganoff you may have eaten. It’s a must-try. Who’s your culinary role model? Talking about chefs, it would be Heston Blumenthal – whose unrivalled fantasy is still controlled by logic, with a healthy dose of humour to add! Which food takes you back to childhood? Good old chicken soup, full of flavour, with an unforgettable aroma and fresh spring onions. When did you realise you wanted to become a chef? Well, when I realised that there is no other way of getting a bunch of other people to regularly cook your dishes to a desired level of quality. What’s your all-time favourite food? There is nothing better than a marrow bone with salt and freshly ground black pepper – served together with toasted rye bread and a mix of freshly chopped parsley and garlic. Who would you most like to cook a meal for? Georges Auguste Escoffier (French chef, restaurateur and culinary writer). I really admire the way that he popularized and updated traditional French cooking methods and defined the modern cuisine that we cook today. Find out more about Alexei and his new Russian restaurant by clicking here.