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Since 1986 I have earned my living as a professional Chef in various aspects of the catering industry including films and TV advertising, weddings and outside catering, event catering, delicatessen and cheese purveyor, patisserie and wedding cakes. Two top class restaurants as well as a private Chef. For a few glorious years my husband and myself were the proud owners of a beautiful and well known restaurant in Northamptonshire. We are now both in private service...yes its a long story! However it has been a happy and fulfilling experience, and sometimes an hilarious one.
In 1991 after our first batch of unsolicited publicity for our restaurant, we were approached by persons claiming to be able to increase our profits considerably. They were shareholders in an abattoir and offered us meat at incredibly low prices. It was late at night and the restaurant was closed so my husband got out the real Russian vodka and we all sat down to talk about it....he was naturally suspicious... but trusted the effects of the vodka to reveal the truth! The abattoir was working illegal midnight shifts and processing animals that had been sick, severely injured or those that had died en-route in the lorries.
We declined the offer of a contract to buy meat at ridiculously low prices. The people concerned claimed that we were the only restaurant in the area that had refused them and that we would be sorry.  Shortly after that the local pubs were offering 10oz steak meals at 3.50. We could not compete and earned the reputation of being 'expensive' even to the point of 'ripping off'. This is easy to overcome if you run a London or big town based business, but for a remote little business like ours that was only a few years old it was fatal.
Under much pressure I refused to compromise on quality of ingredients. I felt responsible to my clients and could not bring myself to inflict inferior and dubious produce on them at any cost. I was also aware of the chemicals that were being injected into old cattle prior to killing that rendered their, otherwise stringy,  flesh  tender as butter. I knew that this process was in question and was not prepared to take the risks. Recession hit the Midlands hard and we could no longer compete with the 3.50 meals. We lost everything, including our home. However in view of the consequences that are only just coming to light I feel it was a small price to pay in order not to be partly responsible for the horrors that these people have inflicted upon our nation. Greed is a terrible thing, its benefits are short lived, its sufferings are forever.

I remain a purist and will never compromise on quality or good service. My promise is to do my best to provide the best.
  Fay Olinsky


Some of our reviews:-
                  First published in the Northamptonshire Chronicle & Echo on Saturday, July 27.1991

Glas-nosh!
There's a Soviet surprise in deepest Northamptonshire

Our writers never identify themselves and they pay for their meals in full which means their verdict is purely personal and unbiased. We accept that, as in any business, standards at restaurants may vary from day-to-day as a result of
circumstances outside the restaurant's control Occasionally, therefore an unfavourable review may result from factors of which we have no knowledge. However, our writers are not sent out to dwell on the negative... when they see
(and taste!) things they like, they will say so.

BY IAN HURRELL
BLESS their little cotton sockskis. Just when you thought there were no surprises left in life, one smacks you straight in the noseski. A Russian restaurant no less. Right in the boondocks of deepest, darkest Northampton-shire. So far, in fact, that our taxi driver was reduced to a gibbering wreck by the time we found it. Of course, the very suggestion of eating Russian brought howls of derision from colleagues. You'll- have to book three years in advance and form and orderly queue, one bright spark suggested. Then when you get there you'll probably only get a lump of sausage and a hank of dried bread. But, undeterred, we pressed on. I got madam's stays out of the oven where I'd left them on a low heat (you cannot in any way say that I'm an inconsiderate husband), brushed down her Pensioner's bus pass, and sorted out her electric Zimmer frame. Then I thought "what the hell" and phoned a taxi. which is where the trouble started. Major problem was that no-one had told me where Byfield was. On the face of it, we hit every village in Northamptonshire and then turned left at Pensance before we found it. Memo to finance director - please sir, put it down to ignorance and not an overwhelming urge to get a close dekko at a P45. Meanwhile, grovelling over and done with, back to the plot ... two hungry people are adrift in the Northamptonshire outback. One is looking at the taxi cash meter anxiously. Will he still have a job at the end of the week? Will Kylie marry Jason and live happily ever after, running a burger bar in Semillong? Is there life before death? Does anyone care? After an in-depth look at rural Northamptonshire, we eventually got there to find a lovely old farmhouse sort of place surrounded  by woods and fields. Idyllic, I think poets would call it. Blooming marvellous would be my expression. I'm going to make no bones about it. Don't bother to  look at the ratings guide because this particular eatery gets a fives tar rating all the way down the line. Dead frustrating really for a professional nitpicker.  For how on earth can you be nasty to a restaurant when the only thing you can find to criticise is a dead gnat on the menu? And I think we swatted that one. Yes, this was class with a capital K. The sort of place you'd take a doddery aged uncle for a meal if you had half a chance of inheriting his loot. In short - a pearler. Even madam had tilt lights across her eyes -as -she stared in fascination at a menu, which even made steak, and chips sound romantic. It was a genuine case of "where do we start"? But start we had to, so I plumped for Ikra, three varieties of vegetable and fish mock caviars. Not exactly the poetic type, me, but as a dish it conjures up something a little more lyrical that the sort of thing, which starts "There was a young lady from Crewe." The CO purred her way through Bliny - a mountain of mini-pan-cakes with smoked salmon, caviar and soured cream, I haven't seen that - broad a smile on her face since the cat fell into the dishwasher. Kotlety Po Kieyvski. No, that is not another expression derived from the Russian for abusing traffic wardens but Olinjkis own way of labelling its own particular brand of Chicken Kiev, which I hoovered through with considerable relish. If you can keep your mitts off melt-in-the mouth chicken stuffed with garlic and unsalted butter for any length of time, you're a better man than me Gunga Din. The nearest and dearest was definitely into her fishy phase -must be her age - and opted for Kulebiaka, salmon and assorted fish poached in white wine with tarragon and cloaked in filo pastry. She didn't talk all the way through it. Must have been good, I thought. Adrian Olinsky, who runs this little gem, had apologized to us because he didn't have much of a wine cellar. if the 1986 Abbaye de Valmagne dry red he served us is his idea of just adequate, heaven knows what he would label as superb. I'm a sucker for fresh raspberries so I jumped at the chance of a brimming bowl full. As for the CO, she ordered rumbaba which came complete with a wicked line in spirit-based sauce. We were two very contented people when we clambered into our taxi for the trek back to Northampton. Our advice - pawn the family jewels, sell the cat, get part time jobs. Anything to give this restaurant a try..   Glas nosh. Long may it thrive.
 OPENING HOURS: Noon to 2pm; 7pm onwards. DISABLED: Two steps leading toward lavatories, but otherwise no real problems. Guide dogs~ welcome. PRICE: Allow around 45 to 50 for your meal. Fixed three-course menu at 18.50 and six course at 25 - both excluding VAT.

STYLISH:  Olinjkis Restaurant gets five stars on all counts

RATINGS                      VERDICT

***** Unbeatable                     Food *****
 **** Excellent                       Service ***** 
*** Good                        Atmosphere *****
** Fair                                   Parking *****
* Poor                                       Value *****

_________________________________________

September, 30,1991
  
Johansens Recommended

Since opening in June 1990, Olinjkis has established a good reputation for its superb cooking, based on authentic Russian recipes, although concessions are made to the English palate. Two large, well-equipped bedrooms have recently been created and both overlook peaceful farmland. Chef-patron Fay Olinsky has an enviable enthusiasm for cooking, while her husband Adrian Olinsky makes a very genial wine host. Dishes featured on the menu reflect seasonal fresh ingredients and Fay also uses herbs, salad leaves, fruit and vegetables grown in the restaurant's 4-acre gardens. The menus, which change daily, give guests background details to Russian cooking. There are starters and small main courses such as forshmak - a combination of smoked haddock, potato, onions, apples and sour cream. The main attraction is the traditional Russian banquet - six courses of delightful dishes, starting with zakuska (resembling the Finnish smorgasbord). A separate list of soups includes favourites like borscht (made from beetroot or sorrel and nettles) and an interesting range of bar snacks and light meals. Try the stack of hot pancakes served with ikra, smoked salmon or pickled fish. An outside catering service is available. Closed Mondays.

Guests can enjoy walks around the grounds and surrounding countryside. Horse riding and stabling facilities are available on site.

CHEF'S SPECIALS

Baklayzania farshirovany

Aubergines baked in their skins and stuffed with ikra of aubergine, herbs and spices,
tomatoes, coating of ewe's milk cheese and browned under the grill

Chakhobili

Chicken vegetables, beans chick peas, okra, cilantro tomato, etc, cooked in a clay pot

Paklava

Almond and pistachio paklava

As seen on The Food Guide, Anglia and Central TV

The Sunday Telegraph May 24 1992
Where 'Glas-nosh' rules

Byron Rogers enjoys the taste of Tsarist Russia In the Northant's countryside
.

CONSIDER THE village of Byfield in Northamptonshire. The main Banbury-to-Daventry road tears through, and the village writhes about it like a transfixed snake, being just somewhere on the way to somewhere else. It has one pub (where once there were 11), two general stores, one petrol station and one post office. Ah yes, and one restaurant (Russian).
I remember the opening, for it is only 10 miles from where I live. I drove by sniggering, and who wouldn't? When one day a man in the middle of England gets up and decides to open a Russian restaurant in his house, 'there is no knowing what form next week's whim will take. But time passed, and to my surprise I found the restaurant had not become a Hindu temple or even a cat-food superstore. The Nine-Day Wonder of Byfield ("Glas-Nosh" burped the local evening paper) is now 18 months old, and Olinjkis is very much in business. There are some odd ironies to this tale. The first is that a Russian restaurant opens in Europe just as Europe is ferrying food aid into Russia. As one satisfied customer said earlier this year, "I am now returning to Moscow where my mother and I will put garlic into water and call it soup. The second is that Adrian Olinjkis is the grandson of Tsarist refugees from Kiev, so the recipes are based on what they ate in that bad old world which they were lucky to flee. "The recipes are all pre-Revolution," he said.
"No, you are wrong," said his wife, Fay, who does the cooking.
"Well, it's not all potato soup, is it?"
"No, but these dishes are the ones they would make now if they had the ingredients."
The third irony is the oddest of all. Fay Olinjkis's father was Field Marshal Haig's chef and cooked banquets for him in quiet chateaux far behind the mud. and murder of the Western Front. The unreality of that will be over-taken when the first: takeaway opens on the moon. Even the Russian restaurant in Byfield does not come close.
The family moved to the village 10 years ago. Adrian was making TV commercials then, while' Fay bred Gloucester Old Spot pigs and did con-tract catering for local firms: just two more exotics becalmed in rural England. The restaurant was her idea, an old ambition shelved but not forgotten.
They opened on a Thursday in a converted stable, and their friends from London came. The following night they waited and waited but the only person who came was an old farmer who had walked over the fields to see if they were all right; they gave him a bowl of soup. Only about four families of the village have ever come.
With the exception of the wine list, everything is Russian, except that nothing, apart from vodka and caviar, actually comes from Russia. And the vodka they flavour themselves, not even trusting the former comrades with pepper or cherries or buffalo grass. Fay smokes her own salmon, marinates herring, makes Georgian sausages (not for the faint-hearted), and bakes her own flat bread as well. You get the impression these are castaways in Northamptonshire. She has now found a dealer in game who, when encouraged, produces things - like wild boar. But to her alarm the man went on to produce squab ("It took me days to get rid of the blood") and then on St Valentine's Day called round with a dead ostrich. "And how do you make an ostrich Russian? .1 did my best; but whatever I did the ostrich tasted of pig-feed. In the end I curried the lot."
Chicken Kiev and beef Stroganoff are on the menu but as a concession to those who are too shy to ask about the zharenrniy porosyonok and the basturma mtsuadi (the sucking pig and the grilled beef). Even the greediest find themselves off all known maps when they come to this place. "But really there is some' thing for everyone here, from the pickled herrings of the Baltic to the dumplings and noodles of the Chinese border to the pilafs of Persia - and it couldn't be otherwise, given the sheer size of Russia. In the cities some French influence survives; and then there is the Jewish food of the Ukraine."
As she has gained confidence, so she has tried to cook as though this were a Russian home and guests had just turned up. The elaborate dishes like salmon with vermicelli have gone. Now, she plays for time, hoping that most people will start with a mixed hors d'oeuvre. This gives her 20 minutes to prepare the main course, which is an amazing dish in itself. At 13~50 for two, it consists of deep fried squid; ikra (the fish and vegetable mock caviar, stuffed vine leaves and forshmak, a sort of kedgeree made with potato, apple and sour cream and the famous smoked salmon liberally dressed with caviar.
Main dishes start at 11 (mixed sweet fish served with horseradish and beetroot sauce) and go on up to roast goose served with apple and buckwheat at l6~50. The buckwheat, like an old character actor, makes many appearances. There is also whole baby chicken Georgian- style, which I had, cooked in sweet butter and served with a plum sauce. It was delicious. You can, if hungry opt for the six-course banquet at 29-50, starting with the hors d'oeuvre, after which you proceed through soup, shaslik (fish or lamb), kissel (a sorbet) before the main course looms up before you. At Christmas there are Caucasian and Baltic banquets.  Occasionally the old world calls: a Polish gentleman wildly adding black pepper to his vodka - and now even the first Russians have come.  A party of engineers recently chain-smoked through the entire meal, and in that nostalgic fug Byfield floated even further away. As they were leaving they presented their hosts with a single rouble note which, at the current rate of exchange, would be part payment on a bread roll.