Matin Saliev – lives in Vaughan, ON, father of little dynamo. He cooks better then Gordon Ramsay, he is funnier then Russel Peters, he is young, handsome and single. Honestly, girls, I don't know where your eyes are!!! We met last week and my tummy still hurts, as he had us laughing for 4 hours straight, oh well, judge by yourself! I really needed to add “LOL” after every sentence, but hope you will figure it out.
Matin, how long have you been living in Toronto and where are you originally from?
I am from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, but I did not come to Canada straight from there, I was in the USA first. I was 18 when I first came to States. Before, I never worked back home as I was the only child in a family, totally spoiled, couldn’t even fix some food for myself. When my Mom told me I was supposed to add salt to my cooking – I was greatly surprised. I was cooking for myself for about 2 weeks, called my Mom, said: “Mom, this food tastes horrible!” So my Mom asked whether I was adding enough salt. I was like: “What? Why?” Anyways, I started adding salt and food was getting quite good ever since.
But how did you manage to get to the States?
My university is a member of IAESTE, kind of like student exchange. My marks at school weren’t all that great and I wasn’t sure which countries they were sending students to. I filled the application, showing USA as my first choice, then Germany and Switzerland. None of the other students picked USA, as this program was not working for this country. But I was not aware of this. So, that year they got first and only spot for America and since I was the only one wanting to go there – I got it!
What was your dream as a child? Did it come true?
I warned you not to ask me intimate questions!
This is not intimate question!
Yeah, but what I was dreaming about was quite intimate! No, seriously I wanted to see America!
So, it came true, were you disappointed as many others?
No, not at all! I wanted to see Statue of Liberty and I’ve seen it like 15 times!
What was your first job and what was your worst job?
I didn't really have the “worst” job, they all were good. The first one was a gardener. We came to Florida with a bunch of other exchange students and there were 33 houses we had to service. It was a very-very expensive resort; all kinds of celebrities were staying there. And they had like a wish list for the guests and one of the choices there was the type of the garden around the house. So, one guests is like: “I want orchids!” – and we are planting orchids for the whole night. Other guest is like: “I want roses!” – so we dig out all the orchids and planting roses instead. At that time the cost to stay at that hotel for the night was around $1200 – crazy money!
Could you tell a funny story from your life?
It was back home, I got sent for a business trip to the remote mountain village to install and set up some radio equipment for the Red Cross. I got the job done fairly quick and local people took me to a “hotel” which turned out to be a private house with washroom across the yard. Lade, the owner of the house, warned me that they have a dog, named Sharik (Sharik is Russian word for balloon, very common name for small dogs, like Yorke or Maltese) and that he is peaceful and friendly, and if I need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night – not to worry about him. So, I woke up early in the morning – could never sleep well away from home – and went out to check out the washroom, you know, brush my teeth and stuff like that. The house owner had his Landrover parked inside the yard – you know, tiny little car, and it had some sort of funky furry cover sitting all the way across the hood and hanging a fair bit from each side. So, there I am going to the bathroom, and from the corner of my eye noticing that the cover on the car starting to stir. I was like: “Sharik? SHARIK?” and all I could see was this red eye, the size of my fist opening and staring at me. Sharik turned out to be a Caucasian Shepard. I ran back inside the house as fast as I never ran before…. Or after…. Yelling: “Bear! Bear in the yard!!!” The owner woke up and went: “Come on, there is no bear, they never come near, they are afraid of my dog! That's my doggy Sharik, just go, give him some bread!” “Sharik” swallowed the bread and kept staring at me as I was trying to sneak across the yard saying “Sharik, I will just go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, MAY I?”
Now you know not to judge a book by its cover, I guess. Do you like to travel and where would you like to go?
– Japan. I would like to see real sushi, meet real Japanese chefs and buy a real Japanese knife, the one that they are sharpening for 30 years.
What do you like to do when you have time?
I like watching movies, playing with kids.
How did you become a chef?
I was a waiter at one restaurant, went to another one and became a dishwasher, then started helping with salads, moved on to helping with hot dishes. And one day one of the managers from the restaurant #1 called and offered me a job as a chef.
What is the most challenging part of chef's job?
The most difficult is cooking a dish day so it tastes exactly the same, after day, after day. And you have to be precise with the recipe, can't change anything because your clients like the way this dish is cooked and seasoned, they come to order it.
What part of a job as a chef do you like the most?
When someone comes into a kitchen and says: “Who is the Chef? You? Great job, Buddy! I tried this dish everywhere, but yours is the best!”
So why don’t you work as a chef anymore?
I just want to cook for myself and my friends. The most strict critics are children: “I don’t like it – I am not eating it!” – “But you ate exactly same thing yesterday!” – “No, it tasted differently, not eating it!!!”
Would your son eat something but pizza and burgers?
Of course! You have to get them interested. When I am cooking something he does not normally like, I get him to cook with me. And then kids always eat what they cook.
Where did you learn to make your incredible sushi, in the States?
Not really. It happened here, in Canada, we went to the sushi bar with some friends, sushi was ok and we got a bill for $400. I said: “Are you kidding me? I can make those myself!” So, gentleman promised – gentleman got to stick to his word! I called some of my Japanese friends, got an idea, tried – it worked!
What is success for you?
Success is when you get really old and gray
and no one will have a single bad word to say about you!
What do you still want to achieve?
I want a large family. Want everyone to be healthy and beside me – parents, uncles, children.
Like 30 more children?
No, not 30. Although I do not mind the process, of course, but not to that degree, so may be 3 more. We like children, I mean in my country. Pharmacy stores are far, and kids eventually will grow up, so why bother to walk to pharmacy?
Is there anything you are afraid of?
Yes, to lose my dear ones or become ill.
What is home for you?
Home for me is a place where we get together, huge family. Home is my grandpa’s house, and every Sunday we all get there, minimum of 20 people, sometimes more like 50. And everyone starts talking at the same time and everyone hears and understands each other, and everyone feels great. But if someone new comes in, they think we are all crazy. Only my grandpa, he is 93 by the way, is the only one not saying anything, just sitting there and nodding.
Thanks, Matin, for the incredible interview! We wish you all the luck!
Compliments of Marina Gavrylyuk
Real Estate Agent with Sutton Group Summit Realty