Michelin chef Michael Deane has recently changed the spelling of the traditional Chicken Kiev on his menu to show his solidarity for the Ukraine and his staff from the embattled nation that’s taking a courageous stand against invasion by Russia.
Michael has listed Chicken Kyiv, the Ukrainian spelling of the dish, on the menu in his popular Meatlocker upmarket restaurant at Howard Street in Belfast.
“While we’ve only a few staff from the Ukraine, I wanted to show my support for them and also to a much larger group from eastern Europe,” Michael explains.
“My head chef, Henris, in the adjoining Love Fish restaurant, comes from Lithuania and has a lot of friends from the Ukraine,” he adds.
“We’ve also had donation cards to support humanitarian aid in the Ukraine on tables across all our seven restaurants in Belfast for the past week and have raised over £10,000 so far,” he continues. “We’ll be adding to this.
“Our customers have been very keen to support the initiative for people there,” he says.
“While not entirely sure about the history of the dish, I believe it has a strong heritage beyond the Soviet Union era in places like the Ukraine.
“We’ve created our own ‘take’ on the classic, which hasn’t featured on our menus for many years,” adds Michael.
Committed to locally sourced ingredients and a role model for many chefs, Michael has helped to revolutionise the eating out scene in Belfast over the past 25 years.
He has held a Michelin Star for over 15 years, the longest ever in Ireland, and last year retained this coveted recognition for his acclaimed EIPIC restaurant in Belfast.
His restaurants have also won impressive plaudits from many of the world’s most influential food writers.
He also emerged as a very persuasive and much respected advocate for the industry during the recent pandemic lockdowns, which threatened the viability of the vitally important hospitality sector and the many smaller food and drink suppliers he has championed consistently over his distinguished career.
The traditional dish is made from chicken fillet rolled in cold garlic butter and breadcrumbs, and either baked or fried, then coated with egg.
It became widely popular in Western countries in the 1970s and was even served at a May 1990 dinner at the Soviet embassy in Washington DC to then leader Mikhail Gorbachev as the Soviet Union collapsed.
It is said to have originated in the old Russian empire by a chef from Kiev and was subsequently reimagined by French chefs such as Marie-Antoine Careme and Urbain Dubois, who had been hired by Russian nobility, as a rich chicken cutlet in the 19th century. Another Ukrainian oral tradition claims the Continental Hotel in central Kyiv invented the modern version of the dish in the early 20th century.
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