Svetlana Riškova from the Elements restaurant – Riga (Latvia) en

18.05.14 - Guillaume - 716lavie

Svetlana Riškova
Svetlana is not only fascinating because she’s a talented chef, ambitious, and because she’s concerned with bring Latvian cuisine to the top, but also because her story is a condensed version of Latvian history.

When the Eastern bloc fell, numerous foreign chefs came to work in Latvia.At that time, employers refused to employ chefs that were trained under the soviet era, because they considered them too rigid to open themselves up to new culinary practices.This is how young Svetlana was quickly able to find a place where she quickly evolved thanks to her Swedish chef’s confidence in her.She was a blank page, she explains, ready to learn everything, to try everything.Interesting thing: she confirms the vegetable garden tradition I’ve talked about before, since she was a little girl she saw her mom grow her own vegetables, flowers, and even if she forgot a lot of how to do this herself, she keeps the memory of this culture.This plays an important role in her promotion of local product use, and putting forward the regions of the country.


For a few years now Svetlana has participated in a cooking TV show where the best Latvian chefs compete against one another. Each cook one of their own dishes, there are several rounds and the winner is elected as the best chef of the country. Svetlana lost in the finale in the last two seasons. Not an easy loss for this chef that was so close to the win! That being said, the dishes she created throughout the show became famous. Since the last season, more and more people have been coming by to try her Atlantic fish cooked in bee wax.Being the only female chef on the show, there was huge pressure for her to succeed. Women are still very rare in the new chef generation.Svetlana prefers working in a hotel because the economic crisis makes it hard for innovation and high end cooking to succeed in an in small independent restaurants.Because of this, she’s happy to work for the Tallink group that owns a good 15 ferries and 6 hotels. She’s also head of the Chef’s Party, the Pavāru klubs, and does everything she can to represent this young Latvian chef generation. She dreams of participating in the Bocuse d’Or ( she already went twice as a spectator) but unfortunately the price to participate is huge.There’s a big complicity between German, Lithuanian, and Swedish chefs…

She recommended three restaurants:
Tērbatas iela 2
Chef Maris Janson
The restaurant is in the middle of the Vērmanes park, when doing research on the park I stumbled on this stamps blog that talks about the park and the lights festival that was happening at the time of my visit, the weekend before the Independence Day, November 18th.

Kaļķu Vārti
Kaļķu iela 11a
Chef Raimonds Zommers
In the center of Riga’s historic center, I went to eat there, here is the review.

Valtera Restorans
Miesnieku iela 8, Rīga, LV
Chef Walter Gee
It’s a small restaurant, the chef focuses on “100% local”, for example there is no coffee, from what I read and understood, it’s a much simpler cooking that the other two restaurants in terms of putting it together, they look for the authenticity of the product and an intimate atmosphere.

10-15 years ago, lots of restaurants opened up because the owners thought it was cool to have a restaurant, but 6 months later, they closed.She prefers working in a hotel because it’s more economically more stable. Tallink is big group that has 6 hotels and 15 ferries. Plus, her manager, is 100% behind her and her choices.

“Winter Dessert”. Here is the video of her dessert called “Winter Dessert”.


As I’m leaving, she asks if I’ll still be there the following week, it’s the week of French gastronomy. Clearly, Riga- and Svetlana herself- never stops.

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