Cristian Pășcuță is a chef at Marty Restaurant, in Cluj. When he sees children among the restaurant clientele, he greets them with songs from The Jungle Book. For his colleagues, he has a wider selection of songs to choose from, ranging from Dan Spataru to Tom Jones.
He is 43 years old and no longer running after other people’s dreams; “a bigger car, an enviable social position and/or a highly regarded position.”
For twenty years he worked in sales, driving 9,000 kilometers per month. His car consumed gasoline while he consumed coffee, about one liter per day. I was always running towards my target, which in turn, would grow larger and outrun me.”
Cristian started his career in 1997 at the weight of 85 kilograms. After 5 years, he was 140 kilograms. He tried every diet he could find, only to find that every kilo lost would inevitably return.
At 39 years of age, his doctor told him that metabolically; he was an ‘old man’. This insult was too much, so Cristian threw out his cigarettes and locked himself indoors for a week. He gave up his car to force himself to walk to the bread store. But it was a nutrition course and culinary school that opened the door to a new life.
“It is true that abs are developed as much in the kitchen as they are in the gym. It’s true all things should be done in moderation. And most of us know that our body builds its cells from what we feed it and that is why it’s essential to feed it clean protein, good carbohydrates and healthy fat.
But food is more than an amalgamation of proteins, carbs and fat. Food is flavorful energy, and much of the energy we get from food comes straight from the chef. Why do people say that monasteries serve the best food? It’s because the chef’s are inspired while they cook. The quality of food is a reflection of the chef’s desire to serve others.
If you cook out of obligation the food might look great, but it will taste as if it’s missing something. It is missing the spiritual element that inspires the chef to prepare the dish as a gift to others.
After eating, you should be able to get up feeling fresh and continue on throughout the day, full of energy until evening.”
Even when he was a traveling salesman, Cristian felt comfortable in the kitchen, not just inside the refrigerator. He would often cook for friends and enjoyed learning new methods and recipes. Many years ago, he met a Chinese chef in Cluj. They became friends and would invite one another over to share meals.
But it was a cooking experience with Razvan Exarhu that brought about a revelation that helped him abandon the high paying occupation that left him so empty.
“I’ve learned that it is important is to be remarkable at what you do rather than trying to be renowned. It’s essential to cultivate humility. A remarkable human being will always exude a modesty that gives hope to others.
Now, I can confirm that life really begins at 40. I’m almost 44 but think I look better than I did at 34. I have more confidence in myself than I did at 23, and my soul is not a day older than 14.
Bricecu said that when we are no longer children, we are dead. That’s what I learned from my grandfather, who lived for 80 years. He was always joking and found everything amusing.
It’s so important to peacefully accept everything that comes our way because we are getting served exactly what we need at the time we need it. It’s been four years since I’ve reset my life, four out of the 80 which are to come.”
BEEF AND GRILLED MUSHROOMS WITH CHOCOLATE SAUCE, PEA PURÉE AND SPICY JULIENNE VEGETABLES
“Because nothing is new and yet nothing is old in the kitchen, we had the boldness of combining a salty, sweet, spicy, bitter and sour sauce. Critics will say we have badly chosen the garnish, but if we remain anchored in the past, it means that we are not advancing, hence the boldness. So joy and courage – that’s the motto!
Let’s take things one at a time.
I used 200 grams of sirloin beef, which I prepared on the grill (here comes the chance to exercise free will, so you decide if you want it rare, medium or well done, everyone has their own preference). I seasoned it with Himalayan salt and freshly ground pepper.
For the chocolate sauce we used 40 milliliters of Pinot Noir wine, which we boiled with an aniseed star and two cloves, then added 10 milliliters of fresh orange juice. I added 40 grams of “baking” chocolate, a little Himalayan salt, and when the chocolate melted, I added 5 grams of butter to make it creamier.
I let it boil at low heat and added chili flakes. (You decide how much spice you can handle: even if I enjoy it really spicy, it doesn’t mean that everyone has to comply. Plus I don’t like to say you have to do something).
In the hot pan, we added 5 grams of butter, and when it melted, we popped in 20 grams of julienned carrots and 20 grams of julienned zucchini. We topped it off with some Sriracha sauce but Tobasco sauce will also work.
For the puréed peas, we boiled 150 grams of frozen peas in Himalayan salt water, then crushed them and added mint and fresh basil, more Himalayan salt, cream (20 grams) and 5 grams of butter. I spoke joyfully to the blender until it surrendered a fine paste.
I carefully arranged the dish on a plate and watched the guests to see their reactions.
Because some like to know the nutritional values, here is a calculation for each portion: 447.6 kcal, 24.65 protein, 28.95 lipids, 17.5 carbohydrates, 2.5 fibers.”