Portfolio: Martin Kollar's photographs of Russia's largest military academy for chefs
Sunday 13 April 2014
Naro-Fominsk is home to the largest military academy for chefs in Russia. Since its inception in 1961, the 190th has produced more than 25,000 graduates – a group of whom were prepared to show Martin Kollar how they'd capture, slaughter and cook food while on the move.
Together with his friend, the director Peter Kerekes, Kollar was making a film called Cooking History that sought to answer how "a little man behind a stove can change history".
After interviewing more than 100 veteran army chefs involved in European conflicts from the Second World War on, they asked their interviewees – and occasionally their successors – to recreate their experiences of cooking in the field. And in doing so, the pair were confronted with scenes that both disconcerted them and put their lives in danger.
Students of the 190th demonstrated how to "process" a cow, recreating a story from the Chechen war.
"The Russians were sent in without proper supplies," says Kollar. "When they set up camp, they saw the nearby villagers had cows. And as they were starving, they decided to steal one…
"The chefs here used very primitive instruments, such as a hammer, to kill it for their training. You can see from their faces, it was very tense."
Mladen Vlachyna relived a moment he himself experienced during the war between Croatia and its Serb population in the 1990s. "This guy and his friends discovered they were in the middle of a minefield," explains Kollar. "They found a calf and pushed it in front of them, stepping in its hoofprints. The young cow led them out of the field and to celebrate, they caught and ate it.
"We shot this in a live minefield – you can see the flags showing us where we could step. The guys behind the cook – they were sweeping for landmines. It was good to have them there…"
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food