Romanian chef Adi Hadean may be a TV and radio personality, but he has never lost touch with his roots. The Masterchef Romania star has long been a champion of traditional Romanian cuisine through his popular food blog and numerous cookbooks. And his commitment to developing young talent shows no sign of wavering.
His cookery school is dedicated to supporting and educating budding chefs as they prepare for a career in the kitchen. And later this year, he will act as chef mentor for Rodrigo Sandor, East Europe finalist for S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016.
As he prepares for the challenge, Chef Hadean spoke to Fine Dining Lovers about the home-cooked dishes of his homeland, and his passion for culinary education.
What made you decide to become a chef?
I think life is more than just a row of good or bad decisions. Life simply happens, and either you are open to embrace the chance or you aren’t. In my case, the kitchen chose me, and I happened to be prepared for it.
Tell us about some of your social projects – what are they and what do they aim to achieve?
The most important ongoing project right now is my cooking school. It’s a programme that helps young people in Romania, who can’t afford to pay for a good cooking school, to study and start a career as a chef. Other than this, I am always concerned about what and how we eat. As often as I can, I try to publicly remind people, through my radio show for example, how important our eating habits are.
How important are cookery schools to a chef’s development?
I am a self-made chef. I basically studied in dozens of kitchens starting at the age of 19 years old. I also attended a cooking school in Cluj, but I don’t consider it relevant. I apprenticed many good cooks in Romania and after the borders were opened, I went abroad for internships alongside foreign chefs. I did that in France, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Germany. If you get the chance to choose a good school is perfect, if not, take advantage of every opportunity that you have to improve your technique and develop yourself as a professional.
How important is it for you to support young chefs?
Talent and hard work are always essential, but sometimes a little guidance from the right person can help put a young mind on the right track. I am thankful for all the help I received on my path, so I am proud to give a hand to those open to what I have to share.
You’ve worked on radio and TV – how does the pressure compare to life in the kitchen?
The pressure is not comparable, but you have to be a strong heart for both of the experiences. That is why everybody tells you that you need to love what you do and so that pressure becomes part of yourself and you can’t function otherwise.
Why is it important to preserve and showcase traditional Romanian recipes?
Food is part of our culture, our heritage. It defines and differentiates us as a nation. To showcase Romanian recipes is to present ourselves to the world and connect through taste, colour and tradition.
What are your favourite Romanian dishes?
My favourite dishes would be those really close to my heart and soul, those recipes learned from my mother and grandmother. Practically a full kitchen based on inexpensive ingredients and few spices, but wisely used. And slow cooking. I love stuffed cabbage because here you can find them prepared in at least 200 ways. Also, soured soups and broths with Romanian traditional bread that can't be found anywhere else in Europe (although the technology and ingredients are amazingly simple).