CHEF TALK: FIRE IT UP! with CHEF HERMINE KOSTANYAN
Fukurou means Owl in Japanese and that’s where the Japanese connection ends. Nestled in the back on the ground level of Emirates Financial Towers in DIFC, Fukurou House is a healthy, contemporary and affordable restaurant serving International cuisine. What made me sit up and take notice was the fact that 90% of their food contains fruits and looking at their menu I felt that some of the combinations simply interesting and I found my mind trying to decipher what the combination would taste like. What I also loved about the restaurant was the fact that it doubles up as a boutique and art gallery. They promote local artisans and designers by displaying (for free, might I add) their products in the restaurant (of course with the ultimate aim to make a sale on behalf of the creative folk). I loved the interiors – a bit industrial, a bit plush so you never really feel out of place. I cant wait to return to try some of their dishes especially the salmon with a tangy vinegar salsa mix of fresh strawberries, onion and basil. Anyone care to join me?
So here goes!
Name: Hermine Kostanyan
Restaurant: Fukurou House, Emirates Financial Towers (Behind Rolex Towers on Sheikh Zayed Road), DIFC
From (Country): Armenia
Culinary School: Bleyan Culinary School, Yerevan, Armenia
Knife Hand: Right
Were you a good kid, did you eat your veggies as a child?
Yes, I was a very good girl when I was a child. I ate everything I was given.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be an astronaut when I was growing up
What was your most memorable restaurant job?
It was my first job. I was the Assistant Chef in a restaurant called Madison Restaurant in Armenia. I got to learn in a very busy restaurant and I learned to work under pressure and I had to learn very very quickly. So I learned how to work in a busy restaurant next to the Chef.
What did you have for lunch yesterday?
I had Jingalov Hats which is a traditional and popular Armenian dish. You take all available herbs and chop it and add lemon and garlic. You then bake it covered in dough. It is vegetarian, quick and healthy and very nutritious.
Place you eat most often on days off?
I like to stay at home and cook even on my days off. I love inviting my friends home and enjoy cooking for them.
What’s your favourite ingredient/ condiment to work with?
Beetroot. We use it often at Fukurou House and it’s a very popular ingredient in Armenian cooking.
If it’s the last weekend on earth – what city are you eating in and what are you eating?
I would be eating lasagne in Naples, Italy.
If you weren’t cooking, what would you do for a living?
I think I would have been a kindergarten teacher because I love children.
If you left Dubai to cook somewhere else, where would you go?
Italy. I love the culture, the food and people.
Who is the person you would most like to cook for?
I love cooking for my 3 children. I enjoy feeding them and I love seeing the smiles of my children when they taste my food.
What is the dish on the menu you eat most?
How would you describe your food philosophy?
Healthy, rich by this I mean nutritious and food should always look good – you have to feed your customer’s eyes first.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
My best meal has to be my mother Varditier’s food especially the popular Armenian dessert Cti Kat (Birds Milk). Dough is first steamed and then baked for a few minutes which forms the first layer. Whipped cream forms the second layer topped with glazed melted chocolate.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure food?
Armenian Baklava made with walnuts. It is basically walnuts soaked in warm water and then peeled and mixed with sugar and butter. This forms one layer. You then create 18 similar layers with walnut, butter and sugar and finally pour honey on the top. Usually when I eat, one piece is enough.
If you were an ingredient what would you be, and why?
What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
The best advice I was given is to do good deeds and don’t expect anything in return. In terms of cooking I was advised that to make a good dough with yeast you need to knead it a lot, this helps the dough to rise faster.
Most underrated ingredient? Potato. You can do so much more with it than just make French fries
Best culinary tool? Knife
A chef that inspires you? We follow Jamie Oliver.
One dish you can’t live without? Bread
What’s one food trend that needs to end? Fast food. It can be fast food but they have to change to healthy options
Favourite food from your childhood/ Describe one of your first food memories. Beef dumplings with sour cream which is popular in Russia and Armenia.
Something in your fridge or freezer that would surprise people? Yogurt Soup with barley. This is a popular savoury dish in Armenia. You take yogurt and strain it. Then you add water and mix in eggs and flour and put it to heat stirring it well. Add barley until it boils and once the barley is cooked you add salt and fresh coriander. It’s fantastic and you can eat this hot or cold and is very healthy.
Last thing you cooked for yourself? Jingalov Hats
THIS OR THAT
Food on a skewer or food in a tiny spoon?
Hot curry or haute cuisine?
Buffet or sit-down dinner?
Mints or gum?
Soup or salad?
Greek yogurt or labneh?
Butter or olive oil?
Chicken breast or chicken thigh?
Baked or fried?
Waffles or pancakes?
Lobster or steak?
And lastly, cake or pie?
Well, that’s that! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!