I cook, I create, I’m incredibly excited by what I do, I’ve still got a lot to achieve. – Gordon Ramsay
Charismatic, always smiling and passionate about cooking, a math teacher who is a real virtuoso in the kitchen, creating nothing but masterpieces on the plates. I talked to Stefan Lozanovski to find out what magic spells he uses to craft delicious homemade meals, which all our friends praise.
Certain foods offer divine aromas that can make your whole house smell amazing, and when we enter the kitchen of a person who is passionate about cooking, we expect plenty of delicious scents. Stefan’s kitchen is not an exception. While he is cooking, you can feel at home, like in a traditional Macedonian kitchen, especially when the air smells of olive oil, fried onions, and garlic. Most people rely more on taste than the smell, but “By the smell, you can see if something is missing in your dish, even before trying.” says Stefan. His favorite spice is cumin, but it’s not the apparent smell in his kitchen. You have to dive deep into the drawer to smell the spice with a warm, slightly nutty, and earthy aroma. What else is a mystery in Stefan’s kitchen? His orderliness. How does he keep a clean kitchen when he often cooks for many people? This may remain a mystery.
Stefan didn’t have many outlets for his creativity as an engineer who teaches mathematics. Drawing, painting, or other artistic skills were not his creative destiny, but he found what he did not find there, in cooking. “I started to get into cooking when a friend suggested the MasterChef TV show,” he explains. It all started with MasterChef USA hosted by Gordon Ramsay, and in the blink of an eye, he watched all the seasons of the American and then the Australian version of the show. Stefan’s first try with cooking like a chef went like this: chicken breast stuffed with spinach, cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes, served with rice and veggies, cranberry sauce, and fresh pears on the side. It sounds incredible for someone who previously was a master of the toasted sandwiches and eggs only. “It was my first try, but it was not my first finger-licking success. That came to a lot later.” he sums up.
Gordon Ramsay and grandma are his cooking inspirations. Grandma’s food brings back memories; Ramsay inspires him to try new recipes. Also, the Internet, in general, can be an excellent place for finding ideas for food presentation and plating techniques because cooking isn’t just about cooking. It’s also about planning, shopping, preparing, combining authentic cuisine, and serving. Stefan enjoys all the steps. When it comes to shopping, he makes sure that he buys fresh products. “I let the food inspire me. I go to the market, see what is there, what is fresh or ask the sellers for their suggestions on what’s the best.”
With planning and later serving, you need to be creative, and it always helps to draw. “Once, I wanted to present the same food in three different ways. And then, after buying the products, I took a blank piece of paper and started planning and drawing what the dish can be.” Chefs on Instagram do that often. The sketch doesn’t have to be beautiful. Its purpose is to make it easier for you to present your meal. As for food preparation, Stefan has one crucial principle: “If you work in a mess, you will create the mess.”. He always keeps his surfaces clean as he cooks. The used pots and pans shouldn’t obstruct the whole process. “The most important thing in cooking, which I also learned from the shows – taste everything you put on the plate. Taste not only at the end but also while cooking,” advises Stefan. If you try it at the end, it would be challenging to balance all the flavors. And what is the “recipe” for a great evening? Good food and friends at the table because at the end, “food is nothing by itself if you don’t share it with others.”.
Cooking is an opportunity to use our creativity, and without it, life would be as bland as unseasoned food. Now that the dinner is over, and the lesson that cooking is not just about food is learned, it is time to think about what we can prepare next.
Photos: Stefan Lozanovski
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