He describes his food as “new wave Mediterranean, following the basics of French Cuisine” and with dishes like sweet flavoured mutton pie with roquefort, dill & basil salad - chef Florin Dumitrescu has made quite the name for himself at his Tapo Restaurant in Bucharest.
He’s had an interesting career, taking part in the Master Chef television show and also spending some time cooking for some of the world’s biggest stars like Nicolas Cage and Wesley Snipes.
On top of his already busy schedule, Dumitrescu has also been acting as one of the mentors of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015, helping young chef Stefan Barca with his playfully titled dish ‘Who Killed The Bambi’.
We caught up with Dumitrescu to talk about his own career as a chef, hear some of his top advice and find out exactly how he will be helping his mentee at the Grand Final in Milan.
Who was your most important mentor for your profession and why?
My first chef, Stefan Kopeczi. I learned from him that a chef without brigade is not a good chef. I learned that everything in the kitchen is about respect. Respect for ingredients, recipes, fellow cooks, customers and work.
What’s the best advice you were ever given when you were training?
The best advice I got that is still working for me today is :
study, practice, work and innovate!
Do you remember one of the big mistakes you made in a kitchen when you were training? (Can you explain what happened and what you learned?)
I did a terrible mistake when i was in my first year of working. On a wedding service I dropped a whole tray of avocados filled with crayfish mousse. They were part of the starter. Everybody started to work more because of me to redo the starters and I was feeling very bad. I learned that in the kitchen is not wise to hide your mistake, it is better for anyone to tell when something is wrong.
Is there one mistake you see young chefs making very often? What should they do do instead?
I saw that a lot of young chefs skipped some stages of the apprentice period. Since all the restaurants recipes are on Youtube everybody could say that cooking is easy and they refuse to chop onions and peel potatoes at the begining of their career. I always try to teach them the old way. Untill they are not fast enough with vegetables prep they are not allowed to touch meat or fish.
What are the best characteristics a young chef can have, nowadays? What are the worst?
The best characteristics for young chefs are they approach on new for technology, meaning that recipes and styles of cooking evolved and they evolve with them. The worst in my opinion is the lack of patience to learn the kitchen rules the hard way.
What’s your main focus in advising the S.Pellegrino Young Chef candidate of your region?
We are coming from Eastern Europe, we are the underdogs. I will make sure that he will cook perfectly and that his plate will be really nicely plated and we will win for sure. In all Eastern Europe countries we have traditional foods that are incredibly tastfull and that many other countries don't even know about. I would love to focus giving a new taste for the world to try.
I like to be competitive and I will teach him how to be fully focused on his plate. I will do the diplomacy work for our region and he will bring the greatness in the plate.
What’s your message to all the finalists of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 worldwide?
Good luck in this competition and be sure that you are doing the best for your restaurant, for your customers and for your brigade!