When French gastronomic bible the Michelin Guide judged Ivan and Sergei Berezutskiy to be Russia's best chefs, their restaurant's website crashed, while patrons gave the twin brothers a standing ovation.
"As always, the restaurant was full," Ivan Berezutskiy said after their Moscow restaurant, Twins Garden, received two Michelin stars from the French culinary guide on Thursday evening. "Guests stood up, applauded and shouted their congratulations," the 35-year-old told AFP in an interview. The announcement of the award has led to a torrent of phone calls and messages, and the restaurant currently cannot take any reservations.
Also read | Noma is the best restaurant in the world, yet again
On Thursday, representatives of the Michelin guide released the first Moscow edition of their iconic red book. Seven restaurants were given one star, and just two -- including Twins Garden -- received two stars.
Twins Garden also pocketed a Michelin Green Star for its sustainable practices, and a prize for best service. Established in 2017, the centrally located restaurant has been one of Moscow's top culinary destinations from the start and previously featured on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list.
With the Michelin award, the brothers entered the ranks of restaurant industry royalty. Twins Garden promotes what it describes as "a symbiosis of science and nature" and features a traditional Russian oven and a high-tech laboratory equipped with a mushroom wall and a 3D food printer.
The brothers hail from the city of Armavir in the Krasnodar region known for its warm climate and abundance of vegetables. They say they have been inspired by southern cuisine and their childhood memories of baking cookies and making adjika, a tomato-based spicy dip. "When we were young we helped our mom cook. We loved it so much," said Ivan. Today most of the vegetables for the Berezutskiys come from their own farm outside Moscow, and they have also developed vegetable wines.
Ivan was supposed to become an engineer like his mother and grandfather, while Sergei had a passion for cooking. Ivan, however, joined Sergei at culinary school after realising that spending a summer internship at a factory in the company of male students did not appeal to him. "Sergei said he studied with girls," Ivan said. "I did not think long," he added, smiling.
After culinary school the pair parted ways. Ivan went to Spain where he trained at El Bulli, while Sergei worked at Alinea in Chicago. Both establishments received a three-star rating from the Michelin Guide and are considered pioneers of molecular gastronomy.
The brothers said they did not go abroad to learn new recipes. Instead they wanted to understand what it takes to create the world's best restaurant. "We wanted to understand how great chefs think," Ivan said. "Recipes are not the most important thing."
Asked to name international chefs who influenced them, both answer in unison -- Ferran Adria, the Catalan chef who ran the El Bulli restaurant. "There are chefs who change the world," said Sergei. "Ferran Adria has changed this world."
Once derided as a gastronomic wasteland, Russia's restaurant scene has emerged in recent years from a post-Soviet reputation for blandness.
In the past many chefs relied on meat, cheese and fish imported from the West but restaurants have increasingly turned to local ingredients including Arctic fish and king crab from the Far East after the West slapped sanctions on Russia following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The brothers say they are passionate about vegetables -- including traditional Russian foods such as cabbage and beets -- and want their guests to appreciate the taste of fresh-from-the garden produce. At home the Berezutskiys let their women rule in the kitchen, however. "What we love to eat is what our wives cook for us," said Ivan.
Also read | How Denmark emerged as a top destination for gourmands