Adrian HădeanFrom: Arad Born on: 4 September 1977 Occupation: Chef, Autor, Radio Host, Blogger
Adrian Hădean constantly seeks joy, whether in the kitchen or outside it, because joy is the clew he pursues in the everyday labyrinth. This approach was built over time, experience after experience, until it became known.
He tested, felt and learned about himself. The final jump, the step to the gulf of assumption that we all run away from, he makes it natural, like washing your face in the morning.
More than a cook, Adrian Hădean is a teacher for the people in his team who aspire to follow his steps. I didn’t talk to them, I don’t know them, but the chef’s attitude towards the employees, whom he calls play partners; to the knowledge, which “should not be stolen, but offered and nourished”; but especially to himself, outlines the profile of a teacher. He treats the ingredients and the client with respect, setting the power of the example.
He avoid sophisticated words and formulate each phrase with patience and responsibility. The best proof of his verbal clarity lies in the publication of the original interview form, the scriptural result of a dialogue, on which I only intervened at the level of structure. He does more things once and manages to answer my questions even when he quickly types on the phone.
I didn’t see him on tv, maybe only fugitive, with the corner of the eye in Masterchef‘s show, instead, I listened to his interviews on Radio Europa Fm, Medium Rare, I read his culinary blog and the book #24decentimeters, my sources of understanding the man who stood in front of me for tens of minutes with a natural brown leather apron, with his hands on the table and alert to everything around him.
The love of people and the imperceptible smile followed by a short “hm”, I would say, characterize him more than anything else.
Photo: Adrian Scutariu
MS: Mr. Hădean, what has remained constant in the way you cook?
My curiosity. This is the only thing that has remained constant. I’m always looking to find something new mostly on the basic ingredients, because we have a narrow palette of ingredients that we can use in the kitchen, especially if we want to work as much as possible with local and seasonal products. This is the biggest challenge for me, and it also stimulates my curiosity and the desire to learn more, also about ingredients I work with, because I try to get something different every time with an aspect that I haven’t seen before. I’m not asking myself if it’s hard or no. I take it as it is.
MS: You pronounced the word “challenge”. Which are today the challenges of the kitchen or of this industry?
Everyone has the challenges they assume, the ones they imagine, because otherwise nobody provokes you to do anything. After all, all people eat and almost everybody eats every day. (he smiles) Mainly, this is a world without great turmoil and disturbance, because structural changes are happening slowly through generations, and people aren’t able to consciously and applied to observe what has changed in the way they feed themselves. We live a lot by memories and we carry these memories with us constantly, always living with the feeling of yesterday in our hearts. If you study people through food, you observe that most people live with yesterday. That’s what I do. Beyond the fact that I like to cook, I like to give people meals. I look at them, I talk to them, and analyze how they eat, as I examine how I eat.
MS: Are you an introspective human being?
I think I’ve always been more inwardly oriented. It’s just that, a few years ago, I also realized it.
MS: You say at some point in time, that you have learned hard how to behave with your chefs if you want them to understand quickly and well that your food is actually theirs. What do you mean it is theirs?
It is theirs, because in the end everyone cooks himself. For someone to do this well, it has to come out of the way of thinking that says “I cook for Hădean” (or for anyone else). No. We always cook for us. The sooner we understand this, the better our food will be.
If we look from the perspective of the employee-employer relationship, they may be my employees, but they are just on paper. I don’t treat them like I’m going to give them a salary. I don’t look at them in that way, but I look at them as my playmates, because that is what we do in the kitchen, we play. And it has to be fun, because if we get too serious, we passes by the subject (as it happens quite often in the world) and I think we have to keep us away from it. In the end, it’s about food, a need that people have even since they exist on Earth.
MS: But, when do you take yourself seriously?
Never. And nobody should take me seriously, maybe only 10%, maximum. (he laughs) I don’t have moments in which I take myself seriously, I have moments in which I behave seriously, but that’s just because the situation imposes it.
Photo: Personal Archive
MS: In the 24-inch book you said that “the most difficult to build is the trust in yourself.” And that, after working on yours, you could then plant it in other people, from the kitchen, for example.
Yes, and that’s just what I said earlier: Do not get too seriously. If you do this, life becomes very complicated, you always have this point of reference, the sober you, to which you relate, and to the great level of expectations you must always lift up. Nothing good comes out of this lifestyle.
And if you can take the days on Earth more easily, like a breeze and not as a hurricane, your experiences are settle as sediment, and you can get more out of them. Besides, when you put your head on the pillow, but not only, you’re more quiet.
MS: How do you build a restaurant concept, how do you create a menu, how do you look at the customer?
I don’t look at the client, I look at myself, because all these things I make for my life first. I do not say there is no application to the life of others, but it comes as a natural course because I know that I have solved my biggest problem at a certain moment. I didn’t intend to open a restaurant in the last few years, but I opened 2 following an alignment of opportunities in my life. By chance, I’d say, but who knows, maybe that’s how life synchronizes with older or newer dreams.
Both are called MEATic, but they have different concepts. At the base are meat restaurants, but the one in Oradea is an à la carte restaurant, where people come in on a reservation in 90% of the cases, are greeted and seated at the table and can order from a menu with a slower dynamic, slower than my lifestyle, so preparations don’t change so often. While the restaurant in Bucharest is located in a food court, where we don’t take reservations – you come, if you find an available chair, you can sit down, if not, you can eat also by standing, we don’t have any problem with that, we have a program changing every day, because in reality we don’t have a menu but a screen with food where you can choose what you want. Including the way we cook is changing, because we want a lot to avoid standardization. And when it’s over, it’s gone. Look, both locations have in common, this thing – we don’t put pressure to have all, all the time. No. We have a limited number of portions in every day.
MS: But still, how do we create, a menu, for example?
I think the starting point has to be first of all the vision. The premise is that you want to open a restaurant. Then ask yourself what you want to do with it, where do you want to position it? The truth is that no one opens restaurants because they want to give food to people, but because they want a business and I think that’s what must be first and foremost. If we exclude this business component, which brings to people a kind of shame, a restaurant cannot exist, no matter how cool the concept is and how great the vision is. And a restaurant goal is to be a business.
From my point of view there are 2 important pillars around which a restaurant is built: the vision of the restaurant and the business plan. But in both pillars can be included simultaneously the chef, the staff, the ingredients, because things intertwine very fine and very delicate. All of this if you’re a scrupulous man, if you really love the life. Otherwise, you can open thousands of restaurants where you sell shit and are just business. And this is an approach that works not only in our country, but all over the world. But now I’m talking about the restaurant grown with dear. And only on these ones, I helped or I will (because of my availability) help.
You always need to have a plan, something that keeps you on track. And of course the flexibility to adapt to changing is also necessary. And the speed of change depends on the country, on the system. But you have to have a plan, otherwise you risk wasting a lot of energy.
MS: I know you don’ t believe in the expression that the knowledge can be stolen?
Yeah, I do not believe in it.
But there are self-taught people who learn very quickly by studying the environment and we can say they have stolen the knowledge, but you cannot impose the phrase, because not everyone is so. Almost all people want to learn, but most don’t know how. That’s why I think it is very important for a chef to treat his team didactic rather than authoritatively. The kitchen is an organization and in an organization it must be a structure, because it will not work well in its absence.
Photo: Adrian Hădean
MS: You said a while ago that “no matter how good a plate is, the only one who can talk about it correctly, true and convincing is the author”. How do you show your plate?
I don’t do it anymore, anyway. We’re working with an open kitchen, we’re in contact with our guests, we’re always doing this exercise – we’re talking about the food we make, because it looks in a way that can to tell you or not to tell you something. Perhaps she will tell you a story you already know, because that’s how we work, but we want to tell you our story. That’s why we’re always describing what’s in that plate. Otherwise, we don’t do advertising.
MS: It seems to me that the chefs started to have a strong word also outside the kitchen. They engage in the relationship with manufacturers, small or large, they discuss differently with suppliers, they build.
Yes, they have had this influence also in the past, but not here. Taking in account that the Romanians lived for decades in a system where no one had anything to say about anything, and then we lived for another 30 years in a chaotic system, where we tried to find our identity, the voice and the courage to say something. In present chefs have really started to work very hard with the producers, wanting to be themselves. And to express yourself as you think, or how you feel, you need some conditions. And then, you start looking in the environment where you are developing or trying to build the necessary conditions. (good quality ingredients, for example) But beyond that, chefs, but not all, only the ones highly literate and who intellectualize this act of cooking, are able to find high platforms from which to make their voice heard and contribute to major changes to how mankind sees the gesture of feeding or producing food. They are important first of all in terms of sustainability, because we are more and more. So the number of those who eat badly is getting bigger. It’s hard for a chef who loves food and who loves himself and loves people, to know he has a choice between making a bad and a very bad food.
Our goal is to make good food, but this requires radical changes in paradigms, which is extremely difficult, because perceived as a struggle, it is one with some big creatures.
And then, I think the whole situation should be regarded as a grinding, rather than a fight.
I do what I can and I didn’t set a goal of saying something, because things come out of me naturally and I use the platforms I have to express a message. The best platform, but not the most efficient – because it takes more time to reach a large audience, remains my kitchen, my food always cooked in a CERTAIN way.
Photo: Adrian Hădean
MS: What do you think of stars?
That they are very far away. Hm! (he laughs)
I don’t think they are far away, I think they are closer to our area, because our gastronomy and hospitality are advancing from year to year. Look, here, in MEATic Bucharest,, we wants it, that’s why we train ourselves in open spaces, to know and give hospitality. In the opposite direction, we want to teach our guests how to receive hospitality. You shouldn’t think that it’s easy to be a guest.
MS: No? I thought it was wonderful.
It isn’t, especially today, when people are becoming more and more sensitive and living more and more in other worlds than in real life. If you are aware of what you have around, it’s good, if you are unconscious, it’s not.
MS: But doesn’t it seem to you that, yes, gastronomy is evolving, but hospitality has smaller steps?
Not necessarily. Hospitality must be a natural act, beyond education. You can express your hospitality between some rules, and for that you need a school or a system, but to be hospitable, you don’t need anything, you just have to be. If you are, people will receive from you, whatever and in any form you put your food on the table. But, for this you have to love the human beings, because, otherwise your emotions are visible. (he laughs)
MS: You told at a certain moment in past, that your father was more a father than he allowed himself to be a man, a human, giving up on his own joy. Does your lifestyle, anchored in present, is related more to your way of being or to what you have seen in your family?
The way we live, we grow and shape, probably influences the life we have and if I think of my father, and I often think of him, especially now that I don’t have him anymore, I see many similarities between me and the way he lived, but also many differences. I am another man than my father and my son other than me. I have a very different relationship with my child than my dad and I have, a whole other relationship. Everything is different. The dearest memories I have with my father are 2 in a lifetime and I have learned about a warmth he sent to me, from others, not from him, many years after his death. So, it’s not something I’ve perceived throughout my life, conscious. I know he has been with us all the time and has supported us with what he considered ok to support us, but in the end children don’t need many objects. They need attention, affection, and guidance at certain moments of life, a guidance that happens whether we want it or we don’t. In one way or another, it happens, because every man tends to relive his life through his children and reorganize things that have not gone out too well in his own life. And knowing that, it’s one of the few things I’ve proposed to do in my relationship with my son – to let him live his life.
MS: Is it difficult?
It’s not hard, but you need training because kids can be challenging. Hm. (he smiles) And yet, they aren’t the challenges, but our patterns of thinking. Once we’ve trained to break them, it’s natural. You know, it’s more complicated to let a little child be as it is, more complicated than letting an adult be the way it is. We tend to look at the little ones as totally devoid of help and discernment, to be there always, a pillow on which to fall, angel wings to lift them, which I think is wrong.
Photo: Adrian Scutariu
MS: “You will be a good model for your children, for ours. You know that any work, however original it may seem, begins with a pattern. And a more important work than your own child is hard to find. “, you are saying in the book #24decentimetri. Are mothers more “model” than fathers?
In many ways, yes. One thing I noticed working with mothers and children in the Farfurii curate (Clean Plates) program is that the small ones, up to a certain age of 3, 4, 5 years old and certainly afterwards, but maybe not in the same measure, they are much more alert to the signals sent by the mother than to those sent by the father. Mother is the first being a child perceives and his first mark on the new environment they enter.
It is a study done in the kindergartens visited, where I met with many parents and children sitting at common tables, and when the mother raised her eyebrow a little, the child’s became very reluctant to touch the food, for example, and she was not even supposed to lift her eyebrow, it was a kind of strain of nostrils that the little ones feel, because they are properly equipped to survive. They cannot run like a gazelle at half an hour after birth, but they can be very careful and act accordingly. Mother’s responsibility is a huge one, and I believe that awareness must begin from the fact that a child takes his life decisions in the first part of his existence, of course, also later, but they make choices based on their mother’s reactions. Surely, the father also has an important role in the child’s life, but the value it gives to the child is different.
MS: The world asked you how you got rid of arrogance, I would ask you where the arrogance came from?
This is a construction that we have been doing since we started to think consciously or semi-consciously. On one hand, each of us learns, on the other hand, is taught, that it is unique and important, what we all are. But if you aren’t aware of what you are and why you are in this world, it stays with you and grows like an oak whose shadow will darken your life. And if people perceived it as arrogance, perhaps I was, or maybe they were. Because you generally see what you are.
MS: Your mind is so well settled, organized …
Yes and no.
MS: … with principles…
I don’t have principles.
MS: No? It looks you have a lot.
I know a lot, but I don’t identify myself with them.
MS: And, then, after what are you guiding your life?
After joy. It’s a constant search for joy, you don’t always meet it, sometimes you meet with pain and sadness, but these aren’t things to disarm me. I have come to know myself well enough and I cannot live by principles, but that doesn’t mean I live at the will of the winds. No. I always know what my needs are, what brings me joy and what not, I am always aware of my actions, not consequences, that it is impossible for us, humans, to see the consequences. I am always clear about what I do and I don’t have regrets, because I always WANT. I don’t always DO what I WANT, but I always WANT what I DO.
MS: You said that you really started to make money after 30 years old. The fact that we choose to do only what we like and brings us joy, is delaying the financial achievement?
I don’t think, but there’s no guarantee that it will be easier. On the other hand, if you do things that bring you joy, even if you don’t make money, you remain with the joy.
MS: Pretty ephemeral this joy!
Well, yes. All the time it is. Happiness, joy, sadness, crying, orgasm, all go. That’s what I’ve learned from my life: nothing lasts forever.
More about Adrian Hădean’s activities and projects can be found on his personal Facebook & Instagram pages, on Youtube (as part of radio Europa FM channel) and on the platforms adihadean.ro & hadean.live.