g.Vino City Wine Hotel – Interview with Chef Tamta Kikaleishvili

In the trendy Chughureti neighborhood around Marjanishvili St., g.Vino City Wine Hotel offers an upscale yet welcoming boutique experience for hotel guests and diners alike. The restaurant, led by reknowned chef Tamta Kikaleishvili, serves up her signature playful, creative take on Georgian cuisine.

Kikaleishvili, who spoke with Georgia Today for this piece, explained her journey into cooking: “I started cooking when I was 15-16. I loved the idea of people gathering around for nice food and it always worked out well. When my guests were happy, I felt happy – so I guess that’s how it started. Luckily, my friend, very good chef Ramaz Gemiashvili, gave me a chance to start working in a restaurant, so by the age of 19 I was already working professionally.”

g.Vino City Wine Hotel was launched by Lida Vardania and Mamuka Maisuradze as a spinoff of their Sololaki wine bar, g.Vino. The popularity of g.Vino among both tourists and locals led the couple to develop the wine hotel concept. Lida and Mamuka worked in development before entering the hospitality business, and wanted to directly contribute to their country’s economic growth. Both the wine bar and wine hotel revolve around – you guessed it – wine. Each room is named after a different Georgian grape variety, and guests are given a bottle of wine with a note card that briefly describes that variety. They offer an impressive collection of natural wines, qvevri wines, and more commercial varieties, paired with clever twists on Georgian food at their restaurant. Despite the charms of g.Vino City Wine Hotel, they don’t keep visitors to themselves. They offer a spectacular wine tour that explores the best wine bars and cellars of Tbilisi.

g.Vino City Wine Hotel and Restaurant opened its doors earlier this year, and the owners quickly brought their head chef on board. “I have worked in many places, and I never left a job because I didn’t like it there. When you are young, you have to move on and take up new challenges. That’s how I end up in g.Vino…me and the founders of g.Vino, our ideas and vision just clicked, so I felt that this was a chance to create something new and experiment. We tried to gather young and talented people who love what they are doing, so I can say we are blending work and fun!” said Kikaleishvili.

Lida and Mamuka strive to keep the family-run feel in everything they do, by being actively engaged in the business’ day-to-day operations. The restaurant at g.Vino City has a comfortable atmosphere and a relaxed ambiance. It feels a bit like an upscale, city center guest house, removed from the stresses of the world. The couple looks forward to hosting wine lovers and foodies, who are taken care of by Chef Kikaleishvili.

The kitchen relies heavily on locally-sourced Georgian products, which keeps the ingredients fresh and the dishes seasonal. Kikaleishvili explains, “whenever I create a menu, I try to get to the roots, but also always play with ingredients – always seasonal, mixed techniques – and I try to make a complex taste, but not too complicated. Georgia is the country of wine. Our food is based on drinking or curing hangovers, so my task at this point is not to forget to pair everything with beautiful Georgian wine. I think Georgian cuisine is such an adventure and so amazing, that even I get surprised when I dig in to the old recipes.”

g.Vino City Hotel welcomes both visitors for their first taste of Georgian food, and those who have had Georgian cuisine a thousand times. “I can imagine what kind of celebration it is to taste Georgian food for the first time. That’s why I try to keep Georgian spices and ingredients as close as possible.” Kikaleishvili has a real passion for Georgian food, and for sharing it with the world. She exclaimed, “When I was starting to cook, I was a real sweet tooth – now my favorite food is some Georgian seasonal greens, Kakhetian oil, and a nice, hot piece of Georgian bread. I hope that Georgian food and wine will become very popular in the world because it is authentic and so amazing. We will achieve this with the help of people who love what they do and put their soul into it. So, the future is ours!”

By Samantha Guthrie

22 April 2019 16:38