When you listen to Alex and Laura talk about cooking, a couple of Chefs at the famous fine dining restaurant Kaiamo, you suddenly feel the appetite to have a bite and especially, to start cooking.
The two are some of the happiest MyKitchen Studio customers, their new home kitchen was built based on very clear functional and aesthetic specifications, and the result was impressive.
We met Alex and Laura when they arrived at the showroom to design “a phenomenal kitchen project”, a kitchen developed for intense cooking. MyKitchen was not their first option, the two had already tested the market for kitchen furniture offers, although looking back, MyKitchen had been their principal option.
Given that Laura’s aunt has been a MyKitchen customer (greetings to the Rădulescu family, e.n.), and the two had been cooking for years in the aunt’s kitchen, they figured that the person who designed the furniture knew exactly what they were doing so they had to visit our showroom and work our Art Director, Andrei Gângă.
We clicked in 30 seconds time. When he heard that we are chefs, Andrei’s eyes twinkled for the chance he could design a kitchen with a restaurant vibe, with stainless steel surfaces and generous workspaces. We would have liked it, maybe we would have used it more, but we don’t want that, we already have a place to cook.
We wanted an elegant space, a home kitchen as a relaxation area, an extension area of the living room. We are tired of cooking, we do not like to cook hardcore at home, after hours in the restaurant, but the kitchen must be designed and equipped “for cooking warfare”.
→ Alex Dobre
Alex takes the main stage
Alex Dobre is Sous Chef at Kaiamo restaurant, the right hand of Chef Radu Ionescu, the visionary chef (graduate of Culinary Institute Le Cordon Bleu, London; “Gault & Millau Romania Great Chef of Tomorrow”, Yellow Guide of Gastronomy) and conductor of the Kaiamo orchestra for menu and plating.
Alex rose quickly in the Kaiamo team hierarchy from the position of chef to a central management position in coordinating and synchronizing the cooking team.
My mission is to make sure that Chef has the best team and that the team has the best Chef.
→ Alex Dobre
Alex’s career in the kitchen includes a period of (2 years) apprenticeship where he gained abundant experience in Chef Joseph Hadad’s team at Joseph’s restaurant. In both Master Chefs-led kitchens, Alex started “from the bottom.”
At Joseph he was hired after a vegetable cutting trial and impressed with his ethos and hard work, at Kaiamo he stood out with his proactive attitude, ability, and effort to take on a role of more responsibility, an administrative role, coordinating the team as Sous Chef.
In the kitchen you start from the bottom. I started from the bottom, but in a kitchen empire, which means triple the workload, not just luck. Attitude matters a lot in the kitchen. No matter how and what you know, it is important to be modest, humble and attentive to learn. You will eventually learn everything, but you have to understand that it is hard work, and work develops all your talents.
→ Alex Dobre
Laura makes the headline
Laura Mihalache, Alex’s life partner and colleague at Kaiamo restaurant, had 16 different jobs before she heard her call to the kitchen, to the culinary arts. She was a national champion in dance sport, she worked as a casino hostess, make-up artist, children’s tutor, real estate agent, retail shop manager in London. She lived a life of diva, a life in fluff, as she likes to say, until she had to follow a vegan menu in London, for medical reasons.
Eating vegan in London is 10 times more expensive than a conventional fast food menu. I started cooking on Facetime with my mother, mostly out of necessity. Cooking has become a slight obsession, and now it is a passion that has become a profession. I spent all my money on ingredients and cooked non-stop during that time. I was magnetically heading to work in a professional kitchen.
→ Laura Mihalache
Alex and Laura’s kitchen
The kitchen is exactly as we thought it would be – we enjoy working in it or having idle meetings with our friends.
We chose quartz for the countertop, quartz is a very versatile surface. We’ve reached a stage where we do not want to dirty the kitchen too often, but we are happy to have chosen the surfaces (quartz and glass) because they’re so easy to clean.
For the fire area, I chose the version with 3 stitches in line on the hob, it’s exactly what you need. Realistically speaking, you never use 4 stitches, it’s too crowded. We have created a workflow in the kitchen, we each have our own station. We use a lot of bowls and the work areas are consecutive, in three workstations.
The efficiency triangle in the kitchen is not just a story, but a reality based on utility. You need it, but without realizing it. You realize when you miss it, and when it already exists, it works great.
The snack countertop is level with the countertop on the wall to work at the same height. The table is higher, they looked for medium-height Scandinavian chairs, between normal chairs and bar stools.
→ Alex Dobre
- Doors – Anthracite etched glass on an aluminum frame, Champagne color
- Handle – Groove profile, extruded aluminum
- Worktop – Santa Margherita “Caledonia Lucido” quartz, 20 mm, undermount cutout (sink) and filo top cutout (hob)
- Wall cladding – Santa Margherita “Caledonia Lucido” quartz, 20 mm
- Snack table – Noce Naturale, doubled with quartz countertop “Caledonia Lucido”
- Metal shelves
- Sink with 1 basin 70cm, Barazza Quadra, mounting under the countertop
- Barazza food waste disposer, vacuum control
- Gas hob with 3 burners, Barazza Lab, countertop mounting
- Electric oven with full steam, AEG, hydrolytic cleaning
- Combined microwave oven + grill oven, AEG
- XL dishwasher with a sliding door system, AEG
- Built-in XXL refrigerator, 400L, Whirlpool S400-1
- Built-in hood 600mc / h, LED lighting, UltraSilence, STEELTIME
For Laura, cooking brought a career vocational transformation
She has been working at Kaiamo for 2 years as a Pastry Chef or Chef de partie for desserts. Laura is the perfect example that one can change radically and pursue their passion professionally.
Talking about cooking and kitchen work, she is much more enthusiastic than Alex, but Alex has the necessary kitchen experience to know how to modestly step back and give her the limelight. Currently, Laura is taking specialization courses in confectionery, and in the near future, she will lead her first group of students as a course assistant.
Cooking helped Laura overcame all her personal limits. Some planets lined up providentially for her to work at Kaiamo, and out of gratitude for the favorable conjuncture, she knew she had to impress in order to earn her place.
On a hierarchical level in Kaiamo’s kitchen, Alex is Laura’s coordinator.
Laura started her career in a high-class kitchen. She didn’t go through all the “kitchen hard work”, but she went through the difficulties of “starting from the bottom” at a much higher level, where only ambition and effort can keep you on the barricades. She has proven countless times that she can withstand this environment and is highly valued in our team.
→ Alex Dobre
Alex does not boss me around in our everyday life, we are BFFs (best friends forever), but when we’re in the kitchen he transforms, he becomes imperative as a commander.
At first I felt every suggestion as a personal attack, but I cried for 5 minutes outside, then went back to work. The authoritarian style pushed me the most. Growing up as a princess, I learned to keep my head up, to always have something to say, but I could hardly admit that I needed advice and that the advice of others helped me.
I always did everything exactly the way I wanted, but in the kitchen at Kaiamo I learned to learn from others, and this life lesson opened my eyes to what matters – modesty, collaboration, team spirit.
Everything must work synchronously to serve a customer, and what we prepare in the kitchen is 100% team effort.
→ Laura Mihalache
Alex is a central figure in the Kaiamo orchestra.
He makes sure everything is up to speed – the quality of ingredients, inventory, stocks, internal kitchen procedures, and communication between Chef-team-waiters. His understanding of kitchen workflows is at an advanced level. His role entails a great deal of responsibility, his main purpose is to ensure that the standards are maintained. Moreover, Alex ensures daily continuity of standards of excellence.
When you are locked in a kitchen, you may allow yourself to make mistakes, maybe no one notices.
At Kaiamo it’s like a theater, we have an open kitchen, and we’re like actors in a live scene, only everything is real and we’re not playing a role. We do not allow ourselves to make any mistakes, everything must be perfect for the customer at the table, this is the only way we can maintain the standard of fine dining, and this at all levels.
Kaiamo is a pristine kitchen – there are people who clean every day. The kitchen is impeccable, we are obsessed with cleanliness. When you walk into the kitchen with your eyes closed and you want turmeric, you know where to find it. Everything is in place. It’s an army, and that starts at management level, Chef Radu and Cezara know how to run a 5-star establishment.
→ Alex Dobre
The story of the framed broken knife
The knife was bought on September 28, 2018 from Bran at the Răvășitul Oilor festival. I took it with me everywhere I worked, I opened cans, I filleted tons of fish, 250-300 kg per week for 1 year and a half, it always cut, even if I sharpened it very little.
A colleague from Kaiamo broke it when he cut a pumpkin, but I didn’t care too much for the knife, so I told him to throw it away. He brought it back framed 2 weeks later. It lasted for a year and became a symbol of resilience in the kitchen for me.
→ Alex Dobre
Alex’s father always advised him to choose any profession in this life, but not a “canteen”, given the experience at home with another cook, Alex’s mother. He tried a few more regular jobs, from Bell Boy to Marshall Hotels, a financial consultant at the bank, resource management in a bread factory.
The real professional wake-up call came with a bang – to give up the suit to wear the chef’s apron.
I trained my taste buds in the family. We come from cooking obsessed families, with appreciation and love for food and eating. Laura is from Transylvania, Teleorman-Cluj, I am from Ialomița and Bucharest.
I learned a lot from my family, from my mother, from my grandmother. I recognize the importance of family traditions, home recipes and tastes must be carried on, they are a matter of identity.
My mother worked for 25 years in the kitchen at Capșa, Intercontinental and other kitchens in old Bucharest. At that time there were no Chefs, only cooks. Instead, everyone’s a Chef today, there are no cooks anymore. Realistically, there are very few chefs in Romania. It’s the most beautiful job in the world – it goes from survival to aesthetic delights.
Apart from the army, the kitchen is just as hard, but when you get over the idea of working for a job and start to work out of passion, it’s worth the effort.
We all fight for customer satisfaction. When you do something with your hand, that’s where you put your soul. Preparing food is the greatest satisfaction – maternal and paternal.
→ Alex Dobre
Lessons from the kitchen
We learned from Alex and Laura that each of us knows how to prepare something in the kitchen, a personal delicacy, no matter how simple and no matter how banal. When you make it delicious and applaud for yourself, you no longer need anyone’s approval.
It is important to make mistakes 20 times over in order to learn, and for each new level in your own evolution, you have to work. When passion becomes a profession, work becomes fun.
Kaiamo – The tastes of the Romanian culinary tradition reinterpreted in a modern way
If you are curious what fine dining made in Romania means, you must make a reservation at Kaiamo and try a Tasting Menu designed as a journey through Romanian tastes reinterpreted haute cuisine. The menu is a collaborative process, the whole team works together to prepare memorable dining experiences.
The tasting menu helps you understand the philosophy of Kaiamo cuisine, and each dish comes with its own story, designed by Chef Radu Ionescu and the super kitchen team, put into words by waiters, freshly served, along with a story, to soothe your soul.
Schedule a kitchen design consulting meeting
If you want to develop a custom kitchen design project, schedule a consulting meeting at the showroom and we can discuss all the details about your space: design, materials, design, and production.