We met Brand Chef Said Fadli at the February 2016 MGFC at ‘Have a Nice Day’ restaurant in the Tsvetnoi Central Market complex. We were so impressed by his food and the concept he is trying to introduce we decided to interview him (editor).
Which country are you from?
I was born in Morocco, but I have lived most of my life in the States, so I am Moroccan/American. I have had quite a life, I grew up in France, then went to live and work in America. Now I am living in Moscow!
You are truly an international person!
Yes, I am multicultural.
How did you learn to cook?
It’s a long story. Like I said, I was born in Morocco. I started to cook for myself and for my family at a really young age, and I realised that I was happy when I was cooking. Cooking came naturally and I have always done this. Even when I was studying law in university I carried on cooking and realised that this was the main thing I was interested in. Later on, I realised that you can make good money from being a chef, and so that is what I do!
As you spent your childhood in France, you do French cooking as well?
Yes, exactly. Later when I went to the States I learnt a lot more, and expanded my skills. Then I started to develop my own style, but at the same time I kept my original way of cooking, and developed on that. I now feel that I have a sort of fusion style.
How did you come to be working here in Moscow?
I was working in a large restaurant called Rasputin in the USA. It was a cabaret restaurant, and a lot of famous businessmen and sportsmen used to go there. Some of the clients were Russians, and I got to know them. A couple of them invited me to come to Russia. That was in 2004. I came here for four days and I found out that Russia is like anywhere else in the world and has all sorts of different kinds of restaurants. I was quite surprised because I had thought that Russians are all poor, and the restaurant business is badly developed. But when I came I saw foie gras, truffles, and the most expensive dishes on sale, I realised that the reality is very different from what we are told about Russia. They invited me and some friends to come here and we opened a couple of restaurants. It was difficult to get the food products in at the time, because you had to import everything from outside, but after a while companies opened here which brought food in for you from Europe, from Israel, from Morocco, from everywhere!
How did you come round to the healthy food concept?
Having tried a lot of different styles of cooking here in Moscow, we settled on the idea that a lot of people like healthy food, but there is nowhere for them to eat such food here. We were thinking in the beginning of opening a vegan restaurant, but we changed our minds. Vegans may come here, but they might bring their friends who are not even vegetarian, so we have to be able to serve something that everybody will like. That’s why we have a fish section; so that we can make everybody happy.
What do you do here?
I am the brand chef for all of the eateries here at the foodmarket. We have three other restaurants here.
How do Muscovites take to vegetarian food?
A lot of people nowadays, especially young people, travel a lot. They see what is going on outside of their own countries. There are a lot of people now in Russia who like alternative lifestyles. They practice yoga, they do meditation, they like sport. We have free yoga lessons here in some of the restaurants in the mornings, and lots of people come.
So are your clients are youngish, like under 30?
Many of them are young, but by no means all.
You mean, when you get older you just give up?
More young people than old people are interested in keeping control of their health, that’s true. But older people do as well; those over 50, they don’t want to get to flabby. Some people have trouble with high cholesterols, so they do watch their food. People want to try more natural food, so we stay away from canned and packaged food, and food that has been cooked and preserved using chemicals.