Celebrated Russian TV Chef Has Show Canceled For Speaking Out Against War

A television cooking show in Russia featuring a prominent chef has reportedly been taken off the air because of his comments opposing the war in Ukraine.

Former Russian MP and prominent opposition politician Ilya Ponomarev tweeted that the weekly program Cooking with Alexei Zimin has been "closed" by the NTV television company, a free-to-air Russian TV channel and owned by Gazprom Media.

Ponomarev said that this was due to "the host's anti-war statements on social networks." Newsweek has contacted Zimin and Gazprom Media for comment.

Since the start of the war, Zimin has shown his support for Ukraine, taking to Instagram to sing songs by a Russian dissident poet and posting messages against the war since Vladimir Putin's invasion on February 24.

At the start of the conflict, he wrote on Instagram: "Bring our soldiers home." Another post said: "The idea is unoriginal. Stop the war. Withdraw troops and bring our soldiers home."

In a further post, he said: "Like everyone who grew up in the USSR, I was brought up with the fairly common sense belief that war is the worst thing that can happen.

"There is no excuse for it and even if there were, now it's too late to make excuses. As Rosenbaum sang. Gotta stop this madness," he added, referring to the singer, Alexander Rosenbaum.

Zimin's most recent message on his account was from six weeks ago and simply said: "War is not poker."

In March, The Washington Post reported Zimin was donating part of the revenue from his restaurant in London to support Red Cross work with Ukrainian refugees. The paper noted that by speaking out against the war, the chef may not be able to return to Russia "where he has been credited with leading a gastronomic revolution."

His London restaurant, Zima, which is in the Soho district of the British capital, is renowned for its Russian cuisine. It is currently offering a number of Ukrainian dishes—including Chicken Kyiv spelt the Ukrainian way, with proceeds going to help those affected by the invasion.

The restaurant's website said that it had donated £20,675 ($26,000) to the Red Cross in Support of Ukrainian refugees over one month. According to the website, Zimin worked at Cordon Bleu in London and opened Moscow's first chef's table restaurant, called Ragout.

He also founded food magazine Eda, opened a gastronomic fast food chain across the Russian capital and has written three best-selling cookbooks.

Russian chef Alexei Zimin
Russian chef Alexei Zimin is pictured in London in 2016. His cooking show has reportedly been taken off the air because of his opposition to the war in Ukraine. Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Update 05/05/22, 6:37 a.m. EDT: This article has been updated with details of Alexei Zimin's anti-war posts on Instagram and information on his London restaurant.