Mr. March 2016 - Alexei Boldireff
For most people fresh baked artisanal bread, continental breakfast, and house made condiments, soups and cured meats is not what comes to mind when they think of university cafeteria food. But if you are a student at MacEwan University that is exactly what you can get at S’wich in the Robbins Health Learning Centre cafeteria on 109 Street and 104 Avenue.
Yes, chef Alexei Boldireff of S’wich Food Truck has an off food truck season home at the university and anyone can stop by for their S’wich fix from September to April. The academic year fits almost perfect into Food truck downtime giving Boldireff and company little off time.
The guys from S’wich were asked by friends and some local food bloggers to be in the Sexy Men of YEG Food calendar and ended up gracing the month of March. For Boldireff having Mo Yusuf, who Boldireff calls his right hand and a “soup ninja”, involved was vital and helped make for a nice laid back shoot. The pictures for the calendar were taken in the back of their MacEwan home. We had the chance to talk to Boldireff one snowy day in February.
He used to work in Financial Planning but was always cooking in his off time and decided to make the change returning to NAIT to take Meat Cutting and Culinary Arts. He says “he has never looked back.” Boldireff now has a job he dreams about (in a good way) and says he hasn’t worked a day since the change “despite some 20 hour days.”
“Some people might be surprised to know we literally make everything from scratch” Sandwiches allow for infinite variety so Boldireiff is constantly learning and exploring. “There’s an art to making a great sandwich” he says, balancing flavours is the key. Making everything in house also allows S’wich to be more efficient as a business. They have more control and can do things like use whole animals instead of buying already prepared cuts.
The best advice he ever received came from Chef Justin at Model Milk drove home the pursuit of perfection.
And Chef John Hall taught him to watch the clock and push to get better and quicker.
The biggest tip for the home cook is balance, learn to balance acidity, sweetness spice etc. “Too many people cook with too much salt.” He says. At S’wich there is always something bright to balance flavours and he says Mo is a master of it with their house made soups.
[Here’s an article that talks a little more about balancing flavours.]
His earliest cooking memory is cooking with his Dad. Both Boldireff’s parents were good home cooks and he still remembers his Dad teaching him how to make Caesar salad and spaghetti. It’s a recipe he still uses with just a few modifications. His Dad told him he had to learn to cook since he wouldn’t be able to live on KD and Ramen alone.
Alexei Boldireff"s Five Favourite things about Edmonton.
- The four distinct seasons.
- The burgeoning food scene
- The local farmers. They really care about what they do.
- The Mayor. Bolfireff feels he is a great champion for the city.
- The festival season. A lot of people don’t realize how lucky Edmonton is to have its full summer festival season.