Andrey Dromov: secrets of success of a popular TV presenter and chef

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Andrei Dromov’s life and work during the war: family, volunteering, gastronomy

We met with Andriy Dromov again to find out about his life after our first interview in 2021 and since the beginning of the war.

Andriy Dromov, a famous Ukrainian chef and TV presenter, talked about how the events of February 24, 2022 affected his life and work.

In the first days of the war, when panic gripped everyone, Andriy’s main goal was to get his family to safety.

“When we stood at the border, my goal was to get them out first,” he recalls.

As a father of three children, Dromov had the right to leave the country, and he did so without hesitation or shame.

“I understand very well that without me, my family abroad would not have survived.”

Once outside of Ukraine, Andriy helped his relatives find jobs and settle in their new place. Later, he did the same in Germany.

Now the chef has returned to his homeland, where he holds gastronomic dinners, part of the proceeds of which he directs to the needs of the AFU.

Despite all the difficulties he faced, Dromov does not lose optimism and continues to do what he loves.

— Original interview from 11/23/2021 —

(Людмила Гурин, “Андрей Дромов: “Мне ничего не продают на Привозе””, Mr Blister magazine, September 2021)

casting tryout tv show script dromov

The path to television via Facebook and bed

– Andrei, you are now one of the top-rated cooking presenters. Is it true what they say that you got into television through bed?

I got there through the back seat of a car or a train compartment, because that’s how I often travel to Kiev for filming. But seriously, there was a big casting call on Facebook for the online project “Neighbor for dinner”.

And I sent the application for participation right from my phone, late at night, before going to bed – literally lying in bed. When invited to the audition, none of my loved ones did not support me before the trip. And not because they didn’t believe in me, but because they didn’t believe in the power of television.

They did not believe that a simple guy with charisma and the ability to cook can break through to the TV screens. But, as you can see, everything is real. You just have to act.

– If I’m not mistaken, Dromov’s experience as a TV presenter is more than 7 years. What is Dromov’s experience as a chef?

Yes, I’ve been working as a TV presenter for almost 8 years. But the experience as a chef… If you take into account that I started cooking at home since I was 7 years old, and then left the kitchen for 4 years in general, it turns out that I’ve been in the kitchen for almost 20 years. That’s really a lot. But I don’t consider myself a cook or a chef right now.

I’m already a creative brand chef, a restaurateur, launching different projects from scratch and turnkey. It’s so much more than just being a chef.

Nevertheless, even though I have gone into top management, I am still 100% in touch with the kitchen.

Andrei Dromov’s biography: from kebab maker’s assistant to star chef

First steps in cooking since the age of 7

– He was born in Odessa in 1983.
– Since childhood, he dreamed of becoming a professional chef in accordance with family tradition, as his father was also a cook, his grandfather was a pastry chef, and his great-grandfather was a baker.
– Andrei learned to cook haute cuisine from the stars of culinary art from Italy, Australia and Poland. Among his teachers is Scott Denning, who works in Michelin restaurant Le Gavroche (2 stars, London).
– He has been on television since 2014. He was cast as the host of the show “Neighbor for dinner”. Later he was offered to host the cooking show “Cooking Together” (TV channel “Inter”).
– At the moment he also hosts several radio programs in his native Odessa.
– Together with his wife Victoria, he raises three children – sons Alexander and Herman, as well as daughter Anna.

tv studio kitchen chef andrei dromov

– How does working in television help a chef’s career and success and vice versa? Or does one hinder the other?

Certainly being a presenter has helped me to establish myself as a successful chef. Let me explain why.

In the minds of our people, if a person is shown on TV, it is already a sign of quality. Well, it’s true: if I had been stupid, I wouldn’t have been taken there.

Only at the initial stage, working as a presenter slightly interfered with the work of a chef, because many restaurant owners did not want to share me with television, and filming takes quite a lot of time: every week for a day or two I had to travel to Kiev. Of course, not everyone liked it.

At the moment I can’t say what my priority is, but it’s unambiguous: working on television is like a drug, once you try it once, you can’t get off.

– I found your profile online at a resource for actors and models. Were you ready to pursue a career in movies or on stage? Or was it just a desire to become famous?

If I’m not mistaken, it was created at the stage of my first casting. It’s just that the process of filming is so addictive, and I liked it so much….

I’ve even participated in the filming of movies – fiction and documentary. Yes, I see myself as a big actor (laughs). I’m not pulling for an Oscar yet, but all in good time….

– What was your first independent culinary experience?

It seems that there are already legends about it (laughs). When I was 7 years old I made apple charlotte at home to please my parents who were at work.

I did it well! But at such a young age, I didn’t know that the charlotte rises so much during the baking process.

And when it rose above the mold, in order to avoid spilling, I took a spatula and stabbed this charlotte back. Naturally, it “fell.”

It turned out to be a nice tasty, sweet apple pancake. I sprinkled it generously with powdered sugar. Everyone ate it!

cook navy ukraine

Army experience as a cook at sea

 

– Your dad’s a professional cook. Did he instill a love of cooking?

Everyone at home cooks delicious food. We have a cult of food, which is reflected in my shape. But in general, my dad used to cook interesting dishes on weekends. Mom every day. I looked up to them and adopted their experience.

– At the age of 18 you went to sea for 11 months – it was your first serious coconut contract. It was akin to the army – you definitely grew up there. But in terms of cooking, how did you grow up?

It was definitely the army. I also call that experience voluntary prison for money. As it turned out, working at sea was not my thing at all.
I lacked communication with people there and was terribly lonely.
As for professionalism, I did not develop as a chief there, but on the contrary – I degraded. Nevertheless, I tried.
For 45 days I did not repeat a single item in the menu of sailors. I even baked them three-tiered cakes with swans, but at the same time as a chef I was just getting dull.
It was after six contracts that I left the profession altogether. I just got fed up with the galley and fell behind in my professional development!
So the sea is not my thing.

restaurant modern ukraine chef andrei dromov

Culinary taboos and Michelin star dreams

 

– What culinary taboos does Andrei Dromov have?

I don’t like dairy in its purest form, I don’t drink milk, I don’t eat sour cream, kefir, ryazhenka, raw cottage cheese.

And taboo – all those caterpillars, grasshoppers, scorpions, spiders, other insects. I don’t eat it and I won’t work with it either.

– Please name your biggest culinary discovery and culinary disappointment.

It’s probably all in one. Every chef, I think, dreams of Michelin stars. And I’m one of them.

The revelation is that, looking at my work objectively, I realize: I already have Michelin stars in my pocket – at least one or two – based on the level I can give.

And the disappointment at the moment is that the only thing separating me from these stars is… my country of residence. But this is temporary.

I understand perfectly well that the hour will come when Ukraine will be rated by Michelin guides as a country where there is a cuisine that deserves high culinary ratings.

And I will get my star here in Odessa!

Health secrets from a chef

The struggle with excess weight – a story of a lifetime

– How many meals does a chef have to taste in a day?

In a day, a chef eats a bucket of food in the process. Or more. I’m not kidding.

The chef tastes every dish before it goes to the guests in the room. He’s responsible for it with his reputation!

That’s why you have to be very careful here: it can blow up at once. That is why in active work the chef tastes and, like a wine sommelier, does not swallow food, but simply spits it out.

– Do you lose weight easily? What was your maximum?

I’ve lost it, and more than once. I’ve lost 30, 40 kilograms. It’s kind of hard, though. I really like to eat good food.

Moreover, I know how to cook delicious food, so it’s really hard for me to keep the weight off. The biggest was 140 kilograms.

And my weight loss is the story of a lifetime. I gain weight, then I lose it: it’s a continuous process.

chef overweight standing scales measure weight andrei dromov

– Do you follow the principles of healthy eating at home?

At least, I try to have a proper breakfast.

But it often happens like this: three days of healthy food, and then for 2-3 days I can break down and stuff myself with some cutlets in the morning. So, of course, I have a disordered way of eating, unfortunately.

But I work on it all the time.

– How do you monitor your health?

Now I am trying to get back to training: I like boxing very much. It’s a great game sport, where you can catch someone in the liver, and you can throw yourself at someone’s head.

Everything is very fun, interesting and healthy (laughs).

French chef smelling food restaurant dromov

Taking care of your nose to preserve your sense of smell and hearing

– Nose is very important for a cook, isn’t it? And you probably can’t afford to get a runny nose or have a stuffy nose, can you? How do you take care of your nose, how do you fight off colds?

Yes, the nose is very important! I had covida and I was worried that I would lose my nose. But I was lucky: when I recovered, my nose and sense of smell became more acute. So I can smell everything just fine.

Now 90% of the dishes I can not even try, but just smell and be sure of the result.
As for nose care, my wife and I are supporters of natural methods.
Therefore, at minimal signs of a cold, we use a spray based on sea water.
Especially such rinses are relevant for children – they often bring colds home from kindergarten and school.
By the way, it was rinsing my nose that helped me… to save my ears! I fly very often. And once again, when the airplane landed, my ears were so blocked that I could not hear anything at all for 9 days.
I went to see a famous Odessa lor – Sergey Puhlik, and he advised me to wash my nose with hypertonic solution of sea water. I was still surprised – what does the nose have to do with it, if I have a problem with my ears?
But I listened to the doctor, sprayed for a few days, and I started to hear again.

breakfast table buffet home dromov

Family life: sharing responsibilities and eating cheesecakes

 

– You have three children. How do you and your wife divide your household duties – who is responsible for what?

In principle, the children are all settled in: some are in kindergarten, some are at school. But we are always in charge of the evening. Personally, I am more responsible for logistics.

Take the children in the morning, bring them back in the evening. Although we don’t have a strict division of duties, it all happens organically.

Sometimes I arrive after 3-4 days of shooting or after a week-long tour of six cities, then my wife picks up all the duties and responsibilities.

I’m very grateful to her for that, because with my schedule I wouldn’t have time for anything.

 

– Why do you call your wife a repeat offender?

Well, it’s obvious: she did 10 years at home with the kids! It was difficult for her to build her career and develop professionally.

– What does she call you?

A roadie. Or husband for an hour. That’s when I’m away for long periods of time. But now I’ve been on vacation for a week. I haven’t done anything else but take care of my family.

– Does the chef’s family have gastronomic traditions?

Absolutely! When I’m at home or on weekends, it’s traditional to fry cheesecakes. And our family custom is to organize a “hotel” at home.

This is when I cook 7-10 dishes for breakfast and the kids can choose something to their taste, like in a 5-star hotel: here you have pancakes, here you have omelet-cramble, some fried sausages, and pancakes, fruit….

It’s a huge buffet!

collection restaurant menus dromov

Rich brand chef portfolio and attitude towards plagiarism

– You have a very rich brand chef portfolio. How many projects – with new menu development and launches – do you have in your track record?

Oh, I’ve lost count. A very large geography of restaurants, in which I have put my heart and soul, intellect and knowledge.

I worked in Odessa, Dnipro, Khmelnitsky, Kramatorsk, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Lutsk, Poltava, Kamensky…. So the track record is huge. And it does not stop growing.

– Does plagiarism happen in the author’s cooking environment? Can you recognize your recipe that was copied without your knowledge? And is it possible to protect the recipe and the serving by copyright?

Very often I see my dishes: both one-to-one copied recipes and remade ones. But here it’s not about plagiarism, but about my feeling of the situation.

I have never hidden recipes or cooking secrets from anyone, I have always done everything on display. I explain why: I believe that in this way I share energy, give it away and make room for new energy. And I get such a natural cycle.

That’s the secret of why I always have so many new ideas, thoughts and culinary escapades.

As for copyright protection for recipes… Unfortunately, the latter is not so absolute in our country that I want to take advantage of it.

You can end up spending more on legal fees than getting compensated. And about the ruined nerves in general I’m silent.

– What is important to you in a dish? What do you try to convey to people through the food and its presentation?

Everything is important, really. It’s very important to me that the food is delicious. And, of course, healthy!

If you can cook delicious food, then your next stage is to make a beautiful presentation, to reflect the philosophy behind the dish.

And it’s not just about restaurants. Even in street food, you can create and serve dishes beautifully, with meaning.

Secrets of cooking delicious and healthy kebab

– Is it true that your specialty is kebab? How did you master this skill – to cook meat on coals correctly and deliciously?

Yes, it’s true(smiles). The thing is that one of my first jobs was – pay attention! – Assistant kebab man.

I worked in a cool Armenian restaurant, where I learned how to cook all kinds of shashlik – meat, fish, chicken….

That’s why I’m on the “you” with shashlik: I know, know, love, practice, teach.

I love to cook and eat shashlyk myself. Cooking – even more than eating. It is my element!

odesa food bazaar chef andrei gromov

Andrey Dromov is an idol of Odessa moms and grandmothers

– You are an Odessian. And the passion of Odessa women – to cook and feed – is sung in songs and depicted in movies.

Probably, you are an idol for all moms and grandmothers of Odessa: they write down and quote your recipes, trust you and, probably, even consult you.

Can you visit Odessa bazaars and stores now? Or is every outing like a question-and-answer seminar?

In principle, I can go to Privoz, but I don’t like it very much. They don’t sell me anything there.

Those who don’t recognize me sell, but mostly they recognize me and don’t take money from me. Because of this I do not feel very comfortable.

At the same time, grandmothers and moms are just my audience. I adore them.

I record videos and audio to them on social media accounts, contact them, congratulate strangers on holidays and birthdays.

I have never refused anyone for photos or autographs. Very often both ask and share their secrets.

They tell me how they cooked according to my recipes, what turned out and what didn’t, what they liked.

I always listen to everyone and try to be as useful to people as possible. Such communication is my theme.

photo: facebook Andrei Dromov

About the Author

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Tetiana Melnyk is a healthcare journalist at Mister Blister specializing in legal and regulatory analysis of Ukraine's healthcare sector. A medical graduate of Vinnitsa National University, Tetiana leverages her background as a practicing physician to provide insightful, critically-examined coverage. Her expertise stems from hands-on clinical work across Kyiv and medical research experience.

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