Chef Ilian Kustev, Chef Alexander Taralezhkov and the "chef of chefs" Yavor Sarafov will join the big family of world culinary experts in MasterChef and will give a new touch to the culinary competition. Season 8 of "MasterChef Bulgaria" will offer viewers "new ingredients", exciting challenges and knowledge-hungry hobby chefs ready to draw inspiration from the best and prove they are ready for the title of "MasterChef of Bulgaria".
Over the last years bTV has changed the perception of Bulgarians towards food preparation. I believe that "MasterChef" has a lot to do with that. We are happy to welcome three new, bright personalities - Ilian, Alexander and Yavor as the jury in the Bulgarian edition of the format. Their multi-faceted professional experience is combined with their passion and pure joy for food, and their relentless culinary enthusiasm ensures that we are in for a real treat with the new season of "MasterChef". The contestants won't have it easy," said Angelina Belcheva, Local Production Director at bTV Media Group.
Chef Ilian Kustev
Chef Kustev's career has been remarkable and it is no coincidence that he has established himself as one of the biggest names in the culinary industry in Bulgaria and around the world. As a child he dreamed of becoming a footballer, but curiosity led him into the kitchen. Today he cooks for politicians such as Turkish President Recep Erdoğan, Prince Charles and showbiz stars such as actor Brad Pitt.
Chef Kustev's professional path is filled with exciting encounters and a lot of work. He received an exceptional "grind" at the five-star Ritz Hotel in London, where he became part of the team of Chef John Williams. In 2016, life took him to Paris, where he worked in three Michelin-starred restaurants. There he had the opportunity to practice side by side with the unrivalled Chef Pierre Gagnaire and Yannick Alléno, known as the God of sauces in today's modern French cooking.
In his 26 years of professional experience, Chef Kustev has consulted and managed a number of prestigious restaurants and chains in Bulgaria. Currently he is a culinary consultant and partner in a company whose activity is mainly focused on the trade of dairy products. Chef Kustev has a reputation of a culinary experimenter, his plates are distinguished by a sophisticated taste and they feature a variety of products.
*For more information about Chef Kustev click here.
Chef Alexander Taralezhkov
Alexander Taralezhkov was born in Sofia, but became a citizen of the world at a very young age. He barely came of age and ended up in London, where he studied Product Design at Central Saint Martins - University of The Arts. He started working in hospitality design and later began working as a creative director at the leading publication CODE Hospitality. His professional endeavors have brought him in contact with many of the world's most notable restaurateurs and chefs.
During this period, Taralezhkov traveled around the world, exploring local cultures and cuisines, applying what he learned to his many projects. Alexander's acquaintance with Calixta Killander, who loaded Michelin-starred London restaurants with her produce, left a strong mark on the young artist. Taralezhkov began cooking on her programmes, and a few months later settled on the Kent coast, where he still develops his culinary practice. At the beginning of 2021, Alexander established Dolma Bar, a venue that features an original restaurant concept and quickly established itself as a favorite of culinary critics and local diners. This sparked the interest of global private members club Soho House and a subsequent pop-up restaurant at their London club in January and February 2022. Taralezhkov is currently sharing recipes for publications at The Guardian and is actively working on his first cookbook, inspired by his culinary philosophy and distinctive style, influenced by Balkan cuisine and beyond. Building a platform for the development of contemporary culinary culture is also on his agenda. It will include a culinary thinking academy to develop young talent and a workshop focused on developing new restaurant concepts and products.
*For more information about Chef Taralejkov, click here.
Yavor Sarafov's name is a symbol of success and his life is analogous to the American dream. Fresh out of law school, Yavor quickly showed his flair and has been successfully running various businesses for over 30 years. During mandatory military training, life brought him together with Chef Viktor Angelov, and the close friendship grew into a partnership in a restaurant and later a fast food chain. Currently, Sarafov's work routine is split between restaurants, property management and investments. In addition to business, Yavor has a highly developed flair as a culinary expert and critic, and culinary travel is his passion. He loves to cook and experiment in the kitchen, where like everything else, he has enviable skills. For himself, he claims to love trying new and different things, from street food to gourmet cuisine, no matter where he is. Every exposure to authentic cuisine, produce, different spices and cultures inspires him as both an amateur and a businessman. Yavor Sarafov has a very serious experience with the processes that take place in a kitchen or restaurant, which even chefs often have no idea about. In addition to being a culinary aficionado and successful restaurateur, Yavor is also a passionate wine connoisseur. For him it is a sea in which he enjoys discovering new flavours, varieties and technologies.
*For more information about Yavor Sarafov click here.
"MasterChef Bulgaria" is an absolute phenomenon in the genre of TV cooking shows. In each episode, the audience follows how hobby chefs transform their lives through their passion for cooking, and the show gives a strong kick-start to their professional development. This Fall, the format returns to the air of bTV completely revamped to reignite the appetite for a more delicious life in the company of family and friends, good food and time for the little things that make us happy.