How Russian chefs interpret foreign cuisine: Italian polenta with khalva and sunflower seeds

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The Great Gatsby couldn’t say no to this one!

Yury Manchuk has been in the restaurant business for more than 15 years, in which he’s had time to grace several top-ranking Moscow and St. Petersburg restaurants with his cooking; and not just those - he’s also held the position of chef in several New York and London establishments. These days, Manchuk heads his own gastro-cafe, Charlie, in St. Pete, where he’s created a distinct 1920-30s American atmosphere.  

What surprises do you have in store for Charlie visitors? 

I do quirky textures with everyday ingredients and employ them in daring combinations. We’ve got other tricks up our sleeve as well - like the 1 kg portion of syrniki, an all-day breakfast, served with sparkling wine, and others. During the summer, we also offer a cruise aboard a yacht on the Neva. 

Can you comment on your affinity for cornmeal porridge, and porridge in general, on the menu? 

We boast eight different types of porridge on the menu, there is one from hemp and linen as well. There is also the usual wheat kind with tomato sauce and tuna mousse - we call that one the Hangover Porridge. And of course, two cornmeal kinds. In essence, it’s an Italian polenta, a bit like the Caucasian mamalyga. We serve it Russian-style, with strawberries, cherries and burrata sauce, to give it that creamy flavor. We mix the burrata with khalva and sunflower seeds. 

How would you describe modern Russian cuisine? 

Still good, as it’s always been. Russian cooks have taken all the good parts of the French cuisine and transformed them. Thanks to modern technologies, we’re continuing to develop it. 

What are your plans for the future? 

Aside from world conquest [laughs]? To take Charlie to new heights, to other cities and countries. One objective for the near future is opening up a Charlie in Miami.  

How to make cornmeal porridge with burrata, khalva, fresh strawberries and cherry syrup


  • 40gr cornmeal porridge,
  • 250ml milk,
  • salt and sugar to taste,
  • 50gr khalva,
  • 50gr sugar syrup (1:1 ratio of water to sugar),
  • ¼ burrata,
  • 4gr fried sunflower seeds,
  • 5 pieces fresh strawberries. 


  1. Cook the cornmeal in milk on medium fire until it reaches porridge consistency. Add salt and sugar to taste.
  2. In the meantime, blend the khalva and sugar syrup in a blender.
  3. Whisk the burrata into the resulting mix of khalva and sugar syrup.
  4. Distribute the porridge into plates, with the burrata/sugar/khalva mix in the center.
  5. Decorate with fresh strawberries, diced in quarters.
  6. Then once more with sunflower seeds.
  7. You may also choose to add some cherry (or other) syrup on top.

Read more: 7 stylish breakfasts a la russe to spice up your Instagram


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