Ivan Zvezdev: Dreams are free, they don't cost anything, but they give happiness

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Ivan Zvezdev: Dreams are free, they don't cost anything, but they give happiness
Ivan Zvezdev: Dreams are free, they don't cost anything, but they give happiness

Ivan Zvezdev was born in 1975 in Sofia. He had the joy of growing up in a large family. His childhood is spent playing and having fun with his older brother and two sisters.

As a very young man, he chose to do circus art, but then cooking became his vocation. He is well known to his native audience with his cooking show, with which he toured the whole of Bulgaria in an effort to show the diversity of Bulgarian cuisine.

Currently, Ivan is participating in the show "I can do it too!".

See what he told our team in the following lines:

How did you feel in the image of the great Charlie Chaplin? Did you get in trouble?

I have always dreamed of touching his image since I was a child. And not only did I get the chance, but I was able to perform a number by reincarnating in his image.

I can't say that it was particularly difficult for me because there is a strictly followed script that I had to follow. My image and expression had to be completely serious while performing the act, so facial expressions were not too difficult for me.

I watched it, imitated it and so.

I was more worried about whether I would be able to keep the balance in the number. Juggling is difficult, and if I didn't have to play the calm and serious Charlie Chaplin, my hands would be a lot more mobile, which would make it easier to perform.

So, it wasn't very easy for me, but it wasn't particularly difficult either. I would rather call it very pleasant!

The next number that occurred to you is aikido. Do you like this number? You didn't choose it yourself

No, I didn't choose it myself. I'm very angry when that happens. A few years ago they made me do rhythmic gymnastics, which is also not my thing at all. I danced with Arab dogs.

And I don't like aikido because it's a martial art. I'm not a fighter.

However, I have heard that there is a lot of philosophy in Aikido, as well as in other Eastern martial arts… Maybe that will be interesting in this issue

Yes, that's how I understood it too. The instructor explained to me that the idea is to take your opponent's strength and use it against them. So, I think when I get a little more into this art I might change my mind.

By what criteria do you choose the numbers to participate in?

I choose such numbers from which I want to learn something new. Some of the participants look to choose the easiest, while others want to show tricks that are good for them or that are directly related to their work outside the show.

I am also an acrobat and a good one, I think, and I would very much like to perform only in acrobatic acts, but there is no way. When there was a proposal for an acrobatic act on the trampoline, I deliberately did not choose it. Then Balkansky got angry with me and said: "Why didn't it happen? This number is just for you!”

But I don't think it would be fair because I can. But other colleagues want to do the tricks they can, not challenge themselves with something completely new.

That's who I am - I play the show from the heart. I wasn't attracted by the prize or the fame.

And what attracted you to the show? Why did you decide to participate?

Circus art! I've been fed the circus since I was little.

Why did he quit the circus?

When I started it was still during communist times. I signed up for the circus to earn some money, because back then it was more profitable, it's not like now. But my parents didn't agree with me wasting my time with these dangerous numbers.

I haven't had any injuries since that time, now it's more like various ailments.

It was bad for me then, I wanted to be a circus performer, but they stopped me. It might have been for the better. Otherwise, if it was up to me, I would never stop.

And who turned you on to circus art?

I caught fire myself. As a child I looked forward to the circus. That was real magic.

Didn't someone close refer you?

No, no. My parents are engineers. They have nothing to do with art. The paradox was that when I became a circus performer my monthly salary was double that of my father. At that time, I earned 480 BGN in Bulgaria, and my father earned 240.

The salary abroad for a circus performer was 980 German marks! For those times, this was an awful lot.

But then somehow we weren't so happy about the money, because there was nothing so different to buy. After all, there wasn't that big of a difference between the rich and the poor. Anyone could afford to buy a car as long as they had the connections. Everyone had a home.

What did you buy with your first salary?

When I got my first salary, my sister and I went to the Viennese pastry shop at the Sheraton and spent BGN 180! We ordered all kinds of goodies! (laughing). So - we bought everything, we afforded everything. It was good times at the circus.

We had the opportunity to travel, see new things. Here we were taught that people live worse abroad, that they almost sleep under bridges. I was also prepared to see some tortured people and I was ready to help them if needed.

My surprise was huge when I actually saw that people in the west live much better and have much more opportunities. My astonishment was great.


When we landed at Madrid airport, I was dressed in my pioneer pants and Romica sneakers. Then I felt like a real Gavroche when I saw how people were dressed there.

And when it comes to cooking, who turned you on?

Again, after the circus, I became passionate about cooking. There we had to keep in very good shape, which required strict diets and deprivations. Balkanski used to lock our fridge. He was very strict.

We couldn't cook anything because we didn't have any products. We were still hungry! (laughs).

Like gymnasts

Right! Balkanski used to tell us: "There is chicken and ice cream. If you want to be full, you eat the chicken. If you want to be sweet, eat the ice cream, but there's no chicken for you!” And we were always hungry, so that's where my urge to cook came from. I just wanted to learn how to make something delicious to eat.

But the cooking was secret! Only when I get the chance. Balkanski always watched what and how much we ate.

When he caught us eating too much, he made us run around the circus 10 times and put us on a diet.


Full Barracks

Oh yes! Even my barracks were a song compared to the training and preparation in the circus. On the very first day in the barracks, I was taken as a scribe to the foreman. So my barracks went relatively smoothly.

But the circus gave me a really rich experience and taught me a lot of discipline, for which I am infinitely grateful.

You are a total supporter of Bulgarian cuisine. But is there any foreign cuisine you like?

Yes, Japanese cuisine is one of my favorites, Chinese too.


Because their taste is very clean and simple. Their kitchens are designed so that only pure taste stands out. They have almost no spices. They have a rice wine that actually has a faint taste.

The main components of Japanese cuisine are rice with very little sugar, vinegar, s alt and seaweed. Here's your sushi! This way the flavor stands out the best.

So you don't like spicy cuisine, for example Thai, Indian…

On the contrary! There, the charm is different - precisely in the we alth of tastes and smells. I even studied in Singapore. I went to study there for about 3 months - kind of like an unpaid internship.

I worked for no money just to learn!

Chinese cuisine is as vast as the territory of China. Therefore, the "Chinese cuisine" we know here has nothing to do with reality. The one here is tailored to European tastes to be more commercial.

In Singapore, I don't know if you know, the chefs are on the street - they cook there, and the customers are inside the restaurant. They do it because of the heat. In this way, the heat goes outside and does not disturb the guests of the establishment.

Why did you target this particular area?

Because that's where the so-called mother kitchens are located. These are Chinese and Arabic. All the others are descended from them. That's why I was interested in going there to study.

I have heard theories that in fact the eastern peoples borrowed a lot of things from us. It's just that the story is slightly altered…

Not excluded. Chickpeas and sesame, which are characteristic of Eastern cuisines, have actually been growing on our lands for a long, long time. In our country, chickpeas are known as chickpeas.

In many world encyclopedias yogurt is mentioned as a typical Indian product, but in fact it was invented by the Thracians. After that, the ancient Greeks also started to produce it.

Now Westerners are used to calling it Greek yogurt, which I am very sorry for. The Hungarians are proud of their famous Hungarian red pepper, which also has its origins in the Bulgarian lands.

Serbs kept the plum brandy, and it is ours again. The Spanish jamon, which is dried meat, was also borrowed from the Bulgarians and there is evidence for this. In 1280, during a military campaign, the Spaniards, passing through Bulgarian lands, learned about the technology of drying meat and brought it home.

But it remains hidden from the world. We can boast of incredible traditions in our kitchen, but unfortunately we don't fight for it.

I can say that I am cosmopolitan in terms of cooking, but Bulgarian cuisine is very interesting to me because it has many hidden tricks, many hidden tastes that we do not know. That is why in my show I did my best to introduce the viewers to these tastes and the different corners of Bulgaria.

So many recipes have passed through your hands. Do you have a "good cook" recipe?


In truth, over 7-8 thousand unique recipes have passed through me. But a master chef once told me that the difference between a good cook and a bad one is that he always knows exactly how much s alt to put! Simple but absolutely true!

This is our primary receptor. If you can judge exactly how much s alt to put on which product and which dish, then everything else is easy.

The Chinese say there are 4 basic tastes. According to them, a good cook always knows how s alty, how sweet, how bitter and how sour a dish should be.

The Japanese add another taste receptor – to monosodium glutamate, which they use a lot.

Wasn't he declared harmful?

Yes, but that is not true at all. Monosodium glutamate is a s alt that is present in tomatoes, carrots. It is a natural extract that the Japanese use. It is even found in brain tissue. But as with anything else, too much monosodium glutamate is harmful. But sugar abuse is also harmful, isn't it?

It's just that recently there are commercial campaigns for supposedly organic products that are useful, but at the same time terribly expensive. Here, for example, sorghum and quinoa - such expensive cereals that are no better than our beans and lentils! What's in quinoa is also in beans!

But the big ones in the food industry use the trick "What we couldn't change with ideology, we will change with ecology!" That is, pushing new eating habits is a market trick for a certain interest.

Our kitchen is infinitely useful and in my opinion we should not give in to such theories.

Would you like to give some tips that every good housewife should know

A housewife should never be without a can of boiled beans, without s alt and without a jar of tomatoes. And in this day and age, let's say a package of spaghetti. You can always make a quick and urgent meal from these products. Also, all children love to "suck" spaghetti! (laughs).

An invaluable piece of advice for me is that when someone doesn't feel like cooking - they shouldn't cook! Food is not obtained when it is prepared with reluctance. I have experienced it myself. When I don't feel like cooking, nothing just goes right.

The third very important thing is to have balance in cooking. Every s alty dish should have a pinch of sugar, and vice versa – every dessert should have a pinch of s alt. This is how the senses are provoked and the flavors are best highlighted!

Would you like to send a message to our female readers

I will graduate philosophically. There is a very nice Argentinian saying: "Un barco I nunca debe sujetarse por una sola ancla, ni la vida por una sola esperanza!"

Or in Bulgarian: "A ship should never rest on only one anchor, just as life should not rest on one hope!"

I really like this saying, because it's good to have many hopes, not just one, like most Bulgarians, we only hope that our lives will get better. One must dream of many things, hope for many things, and thus life is more colorful and beautiful.

Dreams are free, they cost nothing, they bring happiness!

Here you can see one of Ivan Zvezdev's favorite recipes - "The Master's Appetizer".

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