Mukhin plays Moscow’s Mad Hatter at White Rabbit

White Rabbit restaurant in Moscow. (Supplied)
Updated 07 February 2019

Mukhin plays Moscow’s Mad Hatter at White Rabbit

  • White Rabbit restaurant in Moscow has become a worldwide sensation due to Russian chef Vladimir Mukhin
  • Mukhin appeared on Netflix's "Chef's Table"

DUBAI: White Rabbit restaurant in Moscow may have been a name whispered among gourmands in the past, but it has become a worldwide sensation thanks to Russian chef Vladimir Mukhin. On Netflix’s “Chef’s Table,” the enigmatic Mukhin exuded boyish charm and genuine love for food. And he laid out his ambitions for White Rabbit unequivocally when he proclaimed: “I will do whatever it takes to bring the genuine Russian taste back to the people.”

But with great admiration comes great expectations.

Set in the Smolenskaya Passage — a shopping mall in the center of Moscow — White Rabbit’s location offers little to set the scene for what’s to come. But upon arriving at the 16th floor, we enter a giant glass atrium with an Alice in Wonderland (but all grown-up ) theme: Framed portraits of rabbits as royals in full garb, blooming flowers, formally dressed waiters, gold accents, and a hint of the eccentric at every turn. It’s all very dramatic and, frankly, wonderfully twee.

We booked an early dinner seating, which is highly recommended for the views alone. You’ll see the sunlight drape Moscow’s skyline — a combination of New York-esque skyscrapers alongside Soviet era architecture — in brilliant hues of dusky orange and pink, before it transforms into a dreamy, twinkly cityscape.

Our 14-course Russian Evolution tasting menu is an ode to tradition (be warned, not all dishes are suitable for Muslims). We begin with lardo — cured strips of fatback. It sounds wholly unappetizing, but thanks to Mukhin’s exotic twist — a refreshing bite of coconut — we find ourselves enjoying it.

It sets the pace perfectly and subsequent dishes are presented with more than a dash of theatricality. The sea scallops are soft and creamy, elevated thanks to the dusting of ‘eucalyptus snow’ added at the table. The ryazhenka is another highlight — our waitress blowtorching a layer of tangy rhubarb marshmallow into submission, creating a gooey medley of flavors when spooned into the fatty swan liver underneath.

It was a little disappointing that the service didn’t always match the food, with waitstaff alternating between being attentive and distracted — mostly the latter as the evening got busier.

The closing half of the tasting menu builds upon elements of the first — unique flavors, twists on the traditional, and artful presentation — but with renewed focus, like crashing waves upon the shore as opposed to the playful, teasing waters before. Bigger, bolder dishes glide out of the kitchen, led by the cabbage pie — Mukhin’s wood-stove interpretation is served with different varieties of caviar. Then comes a silky stew of cod, roasted crawfish and gooseberries, the latter ingredient also shining in the honey-wine sorbet creation, as well as the meaty beef-and-sorrel barbeque.

Doing away with clichéd chocolate mousse and honey cakes, dessert consists of erofeyich — a sour cream spectacular with fried hazelnuts and polugar; black bread with cream and seawater; and finally, the syta — a small gold chocolate ball served atop the antlers of a colorful moose. Inside, we’re told, are baked potatoes and porcini. It’s earthy yet light, with a slow reveal of cocoa and buttery truffle. It’s so delicate that we’re instructed to eat it directly off the stand without using our hands — an amusing way to end the meal.

Soon after, chef Mukhin casually wanders over and asks us what we thought. A little starstruck, we ramble on about our favorite dishes, visiting Moscow, and how very, very honored we were to learn more about Russian cuisine through his hands, so to speak. He takes it all in with a broad smile.

Yes, the restaurant serves contemporary Russian delights. Yes, its dishes are considered some of the best in the world. But with Mukhin, it’s always going to be playtime at White Rabbit.

Baking contest to whisk up golden business opportunity in Saudi Arabia

Updated 22 February 2019

Baking contest to whisk up golden business opportunity in Saudi Arabia

  • Jeddah-based concept store Crate teams up with online bake-house Bakery M to find the next top baker
  • The winner of The Golden Whisk competition will receive an all-inclusive brand-building package

JEDDAH: A Saudi baking competition offering a golden business opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs has been launched.

Crate, a Jeddah-based concept store which aims to empower enterprising locals, has teamed up with acclaimed online bake-house Bakery M, to find the next top baker through The Golden Whisk contest. 

High startup costs have led many new businesses to operate exclusively online through social media platforms such as Instagram. 

However, Crate, through its flagship store in Jeddah’s Al-Salamah, offers new businesses a retail location to showcase their products to local consumers.

The winner of The Golden Whisk competition will receive an all-inclusive brand-building package created by Crate, Bakery M, and graphic design firm LOUD.

“We proposed the idea to Mariam (Bakery M founder Mariam Alhaddad), and she fell in love with it instantly,” said Crate co-founder and CEO, Rayan Fadul. “Our goal is to provide the winning home-baker with all the right tools to establish their independent brand in the market.”



Aspiring bakers can register for The Golden Whisk by visiting Crate’s Instagram page (@crate.ksa), where a link to the application form can be found in the company’s bio section. Registration is open through Feb. 26.

Finalists will be narrowed down to a pool of 20 candidates and these bakers will present their dessert samples to an esteemed panel of three judges: Mariam Alhaddad (@bakerym), Basma Elkhereiji (@basmaelkhereiji), and Raneen Joudah (@raneens.table). Judging will be based on taste, presentation, quality, originality, and the passion of bakers during their dessert presentations.

Ten lucky bakers will then go through to a grand final on March 17.


Marketing exposure

The winning contestant will be hosted by Bakery M at its booth at Crate, where their winning dessert will be showcased for an entire month to help with initial marketing exposure.

During the month, LOUD, a sister company of Crate, will conduct branding services such as logo designs, photography sessions, and professional packaging services. 

Crate will then offer a complimentary three-month package to the winner, where they will be allocated their own independent space within Crate to further establish their bakery brand.

“We want to bring the talent out from within you and give you a head start on your bakery brand,” said Alhaddad. “This competition is meant to help you shine. Keep in mind, individualism is key. You want to be recognized? Be original. Refuse ordinary,” she added.

Online bake-houses in the Kingdom have been a growing trend in recent years, and The Golden Whisk contest aims to capitalize on this by stirring up competition among them and in the process cooking up some delicious innovative treats. 

“We are so happy to create this opportunity through this competition,” said Fadul. “We are moving an unknown baker from their home, to their own space in an established storefront, having their business brand properly formed, and offering them great marketing exposure — with the seal of approval from Bakery M herself.”