7th April 2020

Featured / Food / Alissa Timoshkina

Alissa Timoshkina: An Original Interview with Some Good Ideas

13 7 mins 0

FFor chef and author Alissa Timoshkina the worlds of food and cinema have a lot in common. Both have the ability to transport you to another place and time, will heighten your senses and can connect you to cultures far away. After completing her PhD in film studies, Alissa founded Kino Vino, where guests watch a film chosen by Alissa and eat a dinner inspired by it.

We discuss Kino Vino, the popularity of supper clubs and speak about Alissa’s book, Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen and the importance of debunking stereotypes. She chooses a particular Serbian recipe and explains its cultural significance.

Some Good Ideas: Hello Alissa, how are you today?

Alissa Timoshkina: Hi Jimmy. I’m good, thanks for having me!

SGI: Your cinema-supper club, Kino Vino, has established a reputation of being one of London’s most original supper club projects. How did you come up with the idea? And why is it important to you?

AT: Starting Kino Vino has been such a milestone. A radical decision to change my career and with that, change my life. I was just coming out of a four-year PhD research project, which was a really tough undertaking. I found myself really lost as to what I wanted to do with my life, knowing that the academic world is definitely not for me. I was visiting Cape Town, where my partner is from, and it was such a special experience. A real sensory feast; the food, the wine, the landscape! We did a lot of wine tasting, visiting around fourteen wine years in our three weeks there. And it was on one of those trips after we’d tasted quite a few wines, that the idea came to me to pair wine with film. Once back to London -and not tipsy- I had a proper think about the project and decided to curate evenings where film, wine and food merge. It has been a really important project. It’s helped me find the right creative path for myself but also, I feel it’s become a platform for so many new creative collaborations, where people in the industry can meet and strike up new partnerships.

SGI: How do you choose what film and which chef to feature?

AT: At first I just jotted down some films which are about food or have a memorable food scene or theme. And then I started thinking what chef would be great for a particular theme. But these days it’s often the chef that comes to mind first and then I think of a film that would complement their style.

SGI: In the past few years supper clubs have become increasingly popular, can you help us understand that?

AT: I think it all started with the credit crunch when people no longer could afford the haute cuisine style of dinning but still wanted to experience something unique. It’s a really curious cultural and social phenomenon; a memorable dining experience with a hearty home-like touch. It’s the perfect combination of dining in and going out.

SGI: You were born in Siberia which draws food and culinary traditions from multiple different areas; Ukraine, Central Asia, Mongolia and even Korea. Do you think this amalgamated food heritage of your childhood has influenced your interest in other cultures cuisines?

AT: To be honest, I wasn’t really aware of that until I moved away from Russia to live in the UK. The biggest influence then was my international boarding school where I was sharing a house and a kitchen with people from all over the globe. And then, living in London, I really got obsessed with food, eating out and cooking. It was only then that I started to look back on the food of my childhood and realise that it’s a pretty fascinating mix!

SGI: Who has been the strongest influence in your cooking?

AT: My great grandmother, Rosalia, was a really special person in my life. She babysat me while my parents were at uni and my grandparents were still working. So I learnt so much from her. She cooked for a living, working in various Soviet canteens, and continued to cook till she passed away in her 90s. I have so many magical memories of her cooking while I am being mischievous.

SGI: Your book Salt & Time is far more than a cookbook; it’s an investigation into Russian heritage and the relationship with food. How important was it for you to debunk stereotypes of Russian cuisine?

AT: I was so tired of all the stereotypes that I kept coming across over the 20 years that I’ve lived in the UK.

Meeting people from all over the world and most of them sharing the same view of Russian cuisine. They either had no idea what it was or didn’t have anything nice to say about it. So I just wanted to share my story and through that offer a new -more honest- insight.

Alissa Timoshkina

SGI: Can you explain a particular Russian or Serbian recipe and tell us about its history and cultural gastronomic significance?

AT: One of the most famous and popular dishes, that is thought to have originated from Siberia, is called Pelmeni, dumplings filled with a blend of pork and beef mince. They have their origin in China and have first appeared in Siberia with the Mongolian settlers. Since then they’ve spread across the whole of Russia and former soviet states. Pelmeni are made in huge batches, usually in winter and then stored in a freezer or just outside (where it’s as cold). Many families have Pelmeni making gatherings where the act of making is as important as the meal itself. The dumplings are consumed with lots of butter and black pepper or in their own cooking broth. Other condiments include soured cream or white vinegar. It’s a real winter warmer!

SGI: That sounds absolutely delicious! Thank you so much Alissa.

Clap for appreciation

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Alissa Timoshkina

Alissa Timoshkina's career in food started from a different path. After completing her PhD in film history studies, Alissa Timoskina founded Kino Vino, a supper club where guests watch a film chosen by Alissa and eat a dinner (often cooked by an esteemed chef) inspired by it. Kino Vino has rightly established a reputation as one of London's most original projects. Alissia is the author of Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen a beautiful book that transforms perceptions of Serbian foods.

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