Juliana Naumenko, Chef of Louisiana Steakhouse
Is there a female word for a sheriff oh, I am sorry, for a Chef?
By Anna Kylyagina
This is the first time I’m interviewing a woman chef …how long have you been working as a chef?
For quite a long time, but I took a break when I had my child.
Why did you choose such a profession, as a woman chef, at least in Moscow which is quite rare?
It was just the circumstances in my life. I didn’t dream about it and I never thought about it growing up. I couldn’t even cook. But it was my mother who urged me to enter the culinary college when I failed my exams at the institute. She thought that at least I might learn cooking. It was the beginning of the 90’s, and from the first very good money, as I was paid in dollars. And there is that element of creativity. I gradually became involved in that aspect – the creativity – and I graduated and began to work.
Is it that easy when you are a woman that has a family and a home?
I wouldn’t say that the life is easy and it is not always easy to start working again when you are on maternity leave, but when I had the time to think about only family and home and family and work, I understood that the only thing I could do is cooking and I got back into it.
Do you feel a sense of competition with men in your field?
Well, I did, but I don’t try to compete; I have my field and I don’t see any sense in observing the competition. On the contrary I can always learn something new. And honestly, I don’t feel a need in myself to compete with anyone. And I have my own talents to develop.
Sounds interesting, what are they?
I feel that it is easier for me to win over the guest. Well, I am a woman and I have some ability to manage people.
But it is still a man’s work! And isn’t a kitchen a place where intrigues and scandals fester among the staff?
Well the atmosphere is really important. And I don’t feel it is bad in our restaurant. We live and work in a friendly atmosphere. I don’t like conflicts. We have all worked here for a long time.
A woman has always something else besides the job: family, children, home. Do you feel that you spend too much time here?
I remember the time right after I got back to work after my maternity leave; it was hard and I had to catch up on my skills and sometimes to push myself a little harder. In the last two years I feel I have established myself and have become more self-assured and now – more financially stable.
Have you ever strived to become a director of one of the restaurants you have worked at?
No, I don’t have such ambitions, didn’t have them earlier and don’t have them now, I have my kitchen and more than enough to do here. At Louisiana we have a common cause and we follow one target – satisfying the guests and earning the money.
What do you do to satisfy people who come here?
Quality. Service. It’s not only my part, but the whole work of the restaurant. We exist to bring a sense of warmth and homey feeling to the guests here.
The restaurant seems to be a masculine place; how do you know what the customers want?
My team of professionals… and the excellent products! I am good at understanding what men want… I don’t have many women friends, but if I try to analyze them I conclude that all of them are solid and strong people. Like men, perhaps!
Do you have a man’s character?
I don’t think so, but I notice sometimes that I am strict and harsh. I don’t like it myself… but there’s nothing to do about it. I can feel that my character has changed as I have more responsibility not only over my life and work but also for the people I work with. I would like to have time to relax and feel more feminine; not to take too much responsibility… but I don’t have a chance!
Have you made any changes in the menu?
Yes, when I came to this place it was TexMex; a lot of Mexican food and not every one understands it. We made a good meat and fish restaurant, with a variety of meats prepared on the open flame or grilled or fried. We added some more traditional salads, more vegetables and garnishes. We have Olivie salad and it is ordered often. I may say that we won over the customers, compared with when I first came as we now have a lot more guests.
The Recipe Ribeye Steak Australian
Grill the steak to the necessary level (Juliana recommend) medium.
Sweet pepper – 80 gr
Zucchini – 80 gr
Tomato – 50 gr
Red Onion – 40 gr
Vegetables are grilled, salted and decorated with green herbs.
Adzhika (spicy sause)
Tomato – 100 gr
Garlic – 10 gr
Cilantro – 10 gr
Salt and pepper to taste.
Blend all at once and served with the meat.