Matilda Shnurova and chef Igor Grishechkin
Last winter, it looked like 2020 was going to be Matilda Shnurova’s year. Shnurova, the financial backer and front-of-house face of CoCoCo in St. Petersburg, was getting more and more accolades for her restaurant, which is credited as pioneering a Slow Food way of thinking in Russian cuisine. Russia was preparing to issue electronic visas to European travelers, which would have brought in the gastronaut set, while events like football championships and economic summits were going to bring all kinds of visitors to the city.
And so she started working on three new restaurants. CoCoCo is splitting into two new restaurants on New Holland Island, the high-end CoCoCouture and more casual CoCoCo Bistro. And the old CoCoCo space is now Bio My Bio, a Slow Food restaurant that avoids sugar, gluten and lactose, something that she says is notably absent in Russia’s restaurant scene.
But then 2020 turned out to be 2020.
She was past the point of no return with all three of the projects—two were set to open in April and one in May—when the virus arrived and forced us all inside. But Shnurova had faced challenges before. She had studied biochemistry but found that incompatible with being half of one of Russia’s most glamorous couples. And so she rekindled her childhood love for cooking and became a restaurant entrepreneur.