Worldchefs Congress 2020: St. Petersburg

For the first time in its history, St. Petersburg has been announced as the host city for the Worldchefs Congress and Expo 2020. Actively supported by the Russian Culinary Association, St. Petersburg City Government, City Tourist Board and St. Petersburg Convention Bureau, the bidding process lasted several months until only three cities remained.

The Convention Bureau team was excited to attend the final in Thessaloniki, Greece in September 2016 alongside culinary and tourist greats like Lyon and Sydney:  “We realized the results of the voting would be hard to predict – every city was unique in some way. Even though we were hoping to win, we agreed not to get frustrated in case the victory would escape us.” Efforts were concentrated on the presentation itself with the idea that, “If we’re not going make the final, we want to entertain the Worldchefs’ delegates by showcasing traditional Russian hospitality at its finest”.


We brought blini with berry jams and honey, but of course couldn’t disappoint our guests by not serving traditional Russian tastes – vodka and caviar – along with warm Russian hospitality & friendly smiles. ~ Saint Petersburg Convention Bureau team.


A RICH HISTORY:

Founded in 1703, Saint Petersburg has been a capital of the Russian Empire for almost two centuries. With more than 4000 significant historical and cultural landmarks, which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, the city will create a stunning and endlessly fascinating destination for Worldchefs Congress attendees to explore. Much like history itself, Russian culinary traditions are a rich blend of cultures and tastes formed throughout the centuries. Congress delegates will have a unique opportunity to plunge into the taste and flavor of sumptuous dishes, and find special recipe inspiration while enjoying fascinating views of the city of Saint Petersburg.

A triumphant Russian Culinary Association & friends in Thessaloniki, Greece.

This will be the first time Russia has hosted the Worldchefs Congress, what can we expect to see & experience in St. Petersburg in 2020?

We have chosen the best season to invite Worldchefs Congress to Saint Petersburg, mid-summer, the season of “White Nights”. This is the time when the sky never gets completely dark, making the city with its unique architecture, bridges and embankments, look dimmed and mysterious. The program will be rich and memorable, full of surprises, which we shall keep secret for now.

St. Petersburg is considered to be the most cultural city in Russia – who are some of the city’s most well-regarded chefs?

Saint Petersburg has been experiencing a culinary boom recently with new restaurants opening nearly every week,  offering new gastronomic palette of tastes. Chefs have caught that trend answering the demand of city citizens for fresh culinary ideas. The whole city is now joined in the race around gastro-bars, gastro-shops, gastro-whatever searching for unique tastes, designs and impressions. Every year Saint Petersburg chooses its best chefs, and here we are presenting two of the most interesting ones – Anton Abrezov and Igor Grishechkin.

Igor Grishechkin: COCOCO

Anton Abrezov: Gras x Madbaren

By all accounts locavore chic has been enjoying a renaissance in Russia. How does this translate into current culinary and aesthetic trends within the chef community?

This is true; restaurants in Russia, though still serving European international cuisine, bring more and more of traditional Russian dishes served with local charm and authentic features. In the early 1990s with a new wave of political and social life in Russia, local culinary culture was overwhelmed with international cuisine – Italian, French, Mediterranean, Pan-American and many others. These all demanded certain products, which were imported, but to keep the restaurant business highly profitable traders often brought cheaper or simply inappropriate products. Local chefs were not ready to work with these products at all even if the quality was good. Tastes were getting worse and people were not happy with what they were being offered.

New Russian cuisine at Lavka-Lavka restaurant in Moscow.

However, this situation was characteristic for big cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg, while smaller regional cities with smaller restaurants, and therefore humble budgets, were still preserving traditional Russian cuisine using affordable local products. In the mid 2000s the trend started to find its way back to the Russian capitals where people were literally fed up with low-quality international cuisine and wanted to remember tastes of dishes cooked and served ‘a la Russe’. Chefs scrutinize books on Russian history searching for descriptions of dishes cooked for Russian tsars and nobility, and re-read Russian literary classics reconstructing recipes of the traditional Russian cuisine.

For more information about Worldchefs Congress & Expo please visit www.worldchefs.org.


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