How SUSU Graduate from Catering Department Became Master Chef and Even Cooked for Sting

A graduate from the Department of Production Technology and Organization of Catering at the SUSU Institute of Sport, Tourism and Service Igor Moshkin is a well-known chef in Chelyabinsk. He was in the fifth grade when he stepped up to the stove for the first time, and he has never regretted his choice all of these years. Today he is a high-level professional, but he has never been shy about learning from the gurus of the restaurant business and discovering something new for himself.

Child once asked Santa Claus for a Happy Meal, but as his wish was not granted, he just went and made a hot sandwich himself

– Igor, tell us please, how you came to your profession?

– This may sound trite - just a funny little story. As a child, I believed in miracles and fairy tales, but back then it was my first experience of a global-scale disappointment: like every normal kid I wrote a letter to Ded Moroz (Russian for "Father Frost" or "Santa Claus") every year, but once I asked for a Happy Meal from McDonald’s. Something went completely wrong, and I didn’t receive the longed-for hamburger. I got angry and in the heat of the moment I went and made hot sandwiches from a long loaf myself. It's simple: one egg, milk, separately fried sausage, mixed with the "wonderful" ketchunaise, and a slice of cheese on top - melt it all slightly under the lid in the pan. It turned out that this recipe became a favourite one, even a signature dish, in our family for the next two or three years. This happened when I was in the fifth grade, and later I enrolled in a specialized vocational school, where we took in turns the weeks of studying sessions and practical training. I was gaining the experience willingly, quickly, and with enthusiasm.

– Now it’s trendy to be a chef, and even many media persons have stood at the stove. But back at the time of your choice, this profession was not so popular. Moreover, it was necessary first to study not in a prestigious university, but in a specialized vocational school...

– Well yes. Then many people were laughing at me. And that could have probably affected my childhood psyche [laughs], but I chose my own vector. After the ninth grade, I purposefully entered vocational school No. 82, which is in the northwest part of our city, and I went there every morning from the Leninsky District through - had to go through the whole city to get there. I was willing, burned with enthusiasm, and liked everything. And then I graduated from SUSU with a degree in food technology. I graduated from the university in absentia, and it was also a conscious choice, because I wanted to quickly gain experience and earn money, including for my tuition. And at that time I created such a visualization for myself - to become a chef. And a week before obtaining the diploma, I was invited to one of the famous restaurants to take over the kitchen.

"In 2012, I received an invitation to work in a big business structure. The company worked in several fields, including the restaurant business. My authority included crisis management, so it was necessary to get things back on track as soon as possible and give new life to a restaurant with history, in the opening of which a chef from Italy took part. It was necessary to do repairs, choose new furniture, textiles, dishes, appliances, staff uniforms, launch big-scale advertising campaign, and open a VIP hall. And most importantly − create a new menu. We were in urgent need of a man who could be entrusted with the management of the kitchen. After numerous meetings and interviews, the choice rested on the young cook Igor Moshkin, a graduate of the Department of Production Technology and Organization of Catering at the SUSU Institute of Sport, Tourism and Service. He had no experience as a chef at that moment. I chose him for his ambitiousness, creative and inquiring mind, immense passion for the profession, love of restaurant business, crazy capacity for work, and the ability not to just cook deliciously, but to surprise. Over the several months of our cooperation, besides working on a new tasty menu, Igor managed to join the team who would be cooking for the British musician Sting during his tour show in Chelyabinsk, and he also got to welcome several star guests from our country's capital, caught the fancy of media representatives and became an expert for them," recalls Deputy Director for Extracurricular and Discipline Work at the Institute of Sports, Tourism and Service of South Ural State University Olga Rovinskaia.

"Cooking is such a huge encyclopedia that you cannot learn it all even over a lifetime"

– I was 23 years old and I was already invited as chef in the restaurant. And today, having gained sufficient experience, I can say: there are chefs who are simply appointed, but in my understanding, you don’t simply become a chef. This is more than just a position. Only after three years of work, I think, I matured to be a chef. Today I can say for sure: chef is not only a calling, it is a real mission and philosophy, if you will. The profession of a chef does not mean that you just have to "keep the pot boiling". You must love this work with all your heart: taking love of food and gastronomy to heart, or not engaging in this business at all. Achievements in this profession will require all of your time, physical and mental dedication. Otherwise, nothing will work out.

– What cuisines have you mastered, in which countries did you study?

 – My answer is always the same: I'm still studying. Any acquaintance with a more professional colleague, any country and its cuisine is every time a new professional journey, which opens up new horizons, over and over again. It is impossible to thoroughly study any kind of cuisine. Take Georgia, for instance. You come there, try the food and understand: there are as many khachapuri recipes as there are housewives. In general, my opinion is that cooking is such a huge encyclopedia that you cannot learn it all even over a lifetime.

"Do not leave Chelyabinsk, we can also cook delicious food here"

– Does your family support you in the profession?

– My family is the most active participant in my creative gastronomic process. All spicy herbs, berries, fruits - everything is grown with love by my mom and my grandmother in the garden. And I can answer for every blade of grass - there is definitely no chemistry or other GMOs. These are natural healthy products. Actually, other specialties and ingredients in my kitchen also should meet this quality.

– Is your mom happy to eat your meals?

– Mom is always delighted with what I cook. And this is not because she is my mother, but because I always invent and cook something for her with such warmth and tenderness that this a priori cannot be bad.

– What would you wish future graduates of the SUSU Department of Production Technology and Organization of Catering?

– I want to wish them just one thing: do not leave Chelyabinsk! We will try to develop tastes, develop our culture of cuisine. Even though there are still a few of us, but we are trying to do our best sincerely and from our hearts. I personally hold gastronomic dinners from time to time, where I share my ideas. And we have enough such fanatics in Chelyabinsk to have hope and to create our local gastronomy. We believe in Chelyabinsk, so you, too, need to believe. Do not leave Chelyabinsk, we can also cook delicious food here.

The material in the article is cited from

Prepared by Nataliia Brylina; library photo by Igor Moshkin,
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