Maxim Behar in “Slavi Trifonov’s late-night show”

Host: Dear viewers, in recent years the Seychelles have become a popular destination for wealthy Bulgarian tourists. Unfortunately, colleagues, this year we will also be going as far as Shkorpilovtsi, that's how I see it. What is left for us but to travel to Seychelles on the wings of imagination? My next guest is the Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Seychelles in Bulgaria. These days he launched his book “Seychelles Recipes and More about “Paradise on Earth” on the book market. Look at what it looks like. In this book, my guest shares his passion for Seychelles and its traditional Creole cuisine. We have with us the PR expert, Maxim Behar. Good evening, welcome.

Maxim: Good evening!

Host: You’ve chosen an unusual format for the book, may I show it? You read it in a way like that?

Maxim: Yes! You can read the dedication.

Host: In the dedication you wrote: "Ivo Siromahov and Ku-Ku band, I love you and I'm waiting for you in Seychelles"

Maxim: Wait, wait: "Ivo Siromahov, Slavi"

Host: You will have a hard time moving him off the couch, but one of us can one day... Whoever’s bookings are going well. Gamza, you will be the first, most likely, and maybe the only one. Anyway, why did you decide to make a cookbook, as far as I understand?

Maxim: A few months ago, I participated in a culinary show and there I decided to cook Seychellois delicacies.

Host: They mostly eat seafood, right?

Maxim: And this show had such a response that I was just very impressed, especially the cuisine. I cooked a "millionaire's salad" which is very famous in Seychelles and is available in all good restaurants.

Host: Only Evgeni Dimitrov has tried it. You can tell us about it, but we have no way of knowing.

Maxim: I will specially make it for you! At one point I realized that to represent a country, you need 3 things to write about it - the cuisine, the people, and the nature. That's why I decided very lightly and quickly, in one book, to unite Seychelles cuisine, which is very interesting, very spicy, a cuisine taken from many continents. There is no local cuisine because there are no locals, we will talk about it later, I will tell you where they came from. I put around 100 photos in it, all taken by me, to show the beauties of Seychelles.

Host: Didn't most natives come from Africa?

Maxim: They came from Africa with their French and British slave masters. Meaning, first came the French, who brought the slaves with them in the middle of the 17th century. It was an uninhabited territory, named after the then Minister of Finance of France - Jean Moreau de Seychelle, who gave the money for the expedition. They discovered the Seychelles and then proceeded to Madagascar, where there were already indigenous people. When in the middle of the 17th century, slavery in Africa was abolished, the French decided to settle in this territory they had heard about. So, it's not so much just Africans. There are many white people in Seychelles.

Host: So, there must be an influence from French cuisine, right?

Maxim: It was a French colony for a century and a half, then it was sold to the British and for the last one century it has been a British colony. There is very little influence of European cuisine, rather - India, Pakistan, and parts of China. Very spicy cuisine with very interesting spices, but the cuisine is... in one restaurant you can have one, in another restaurant you can have a different thing. It's typical, it's called Creole cuisine. The people are more important, nature is more important, of course the beaches. Far more importantly, they are the only country in the world with 70% so-called "Protected Territory". In 70% of the territory, you are not allowed to drive a nail. You can't make anything, not a hotel, not a bar, not anything. Because of its unique nature, the islands themselves are 115 with 90 thousand inhabitants on all 115 islands. I’ve called it here the "7/8th City" in my dedication. As much as 7/8ths City, overall. 85-90 thousand people on these 115 islands. That’s why nature is uniquely preserved. For example, there is a law that you can build one hotel on one beach. There are small 2-floor hotels, and another law says that no one is allowed to build a hotel that is higher than 2 floors.

Host: It is very good to have such a regulation.

Maxim: This nature attracts an awful lot of people around the world. The people are wonderful, always smiling, hospitable, kind, islanders.

Host: What are your functions as an Honorary Consul? What does an Honorary Consul do?

Maxim: Nearly 20 years ago, I received an email from some of my friends in Paris who told me: "A friend of ours, the founding president of the Republic of Seychelles, Sir James Mancham, will be in Bulgaria for a day. Will you find time to see him?". That’s how I met Sir James at what was then the Sheraton. We had a lovely lunch and after 3-4 days he called me and said: "Max!" in that Sir James voice and because he was calling from the Seychelles and as Joro Mamalev says: "My phone is ringing internationally". And he said to me: "Do you want to be our honorary consul, to represent the Seychelles in Bulgaria?". God, I didn't know what an Honorary Consul was, but it sounded very cool - both honorable and a consul. And so, I ended up in Seychelles the following week. I represent the interests of Seychelles in Bulgaria.

Host: I hope we haven't violated them in any way.

Maxim: No, we have not violated them in any way and Bulgaria has not violated them in any way. Here, the presence of Seychellois citizens is very symbolic. Every now and again there is a sailor. Seychellois can now enter the European Union without visas. Years ago, there were many ships that sail under the Seychelles flag, there were sailors who wanted to go ashore, and I was calling to vouch for them. Now there are three students, Seychellois, in Plovdiv and in Stara Zagora. I had two students in Sofia and in Dobrich, at the University of Tourism. So, I'm trying to help Seychelles. I work a lot for them.

Host: These people who come here can count on you, right?

Maxim: Of course! There was a chef here until a month ago, a young boy who’s a Michelin chef, who goes on catamarans, on big ships to cook. I asked him to edit my recipes.

Host: What did he say, did he approve of them?

Maxim: Yes, he said: "Seychelles recipes". He is one of the editors. There is a Bulgarian in the Seychelles - Mladen Gergov, with whom I have many interesting stories.

Host: What does he do?

Maxim: He was in the most expensive and most prestigious MaiaHotel, which is about 20 houses. He was a front desk manager, i.e., the person who greets the guests when they arrive. I met Mladen about 15 years ago and I have many stories connected with him. I will tell you about two very short ones. I arrive and he is waiting for me there in a hotel, he says: "I saw your name on the guest list, I am very glad that a Bulgarian is in our hotel" and I tell him, "Let's meet tomorrow". The next day I go and ask at the reception, "Where is Mladen?", the girls there say: "We don't have a Mladen, there is no such person here" and I say, "That white boy I was talking to yesterday, here in front of you" and they say: "He is Grego, he is not Mladen." He arrives and I see he has a badge that says "Greg" and I say, "Why?" and he says: "Oh Behar, I can’t even describe it to you, the French renamed me, they changed my name!". His name is Mladen, it is usually full of Germans there, and he welcomes the guests - front desk manager, and introduces himself to everyone and says: "Guten Tag, guten Tag, ich bin Mladen!", right: "I am Mladen!". They started calling him "bin Laden". They walk around the hotel saying, "Where's bin Laden?" and the French manager called him and said to him, "This can't go on any longer, what's your name?" and he says: "Mladen Gergov" "Greg, if you're Gergov, then Greg." He renamed him. He was the coach of the national football team, Mladen and everyone knows him as - Grego the football player. Now he has built a small hotel with a few rooms and a small restaurant, we visited a few months ago, hats off to him, he works 24 hours a day. I was there and one day he called me and said: "You know, my little daughter, Martina, we have to baptize her, do you mind becoming a godfather?" and I said, "Oh, great idea, this is the only Bulgarian-Seychellois kid I know! Great, find a nice church, we'll go tomorrow, we'll baptize her." Somewhere around midnight he calls me and says: "Behar, it's not going to happen." I say, "What, what happened?" and he says: "I'm Orthodox, the mom is Catholic, and you're Jewish, nobody wants to take us."

Host: This would’ve been a symbol of world religious tolerance!

Maxim: However, we found a church, and I told him: "Mladen, let's go to the beach, we'll do it there." So, we baptized Martina, and she has a godfather.

Host: She is baptized in which faith?

Maxim: She was baptized in probably the Christian one.

Host: I can't help but ask you, next week is the coronation of King Charles, I know you know each other personally, will you attend the coronation?

Maxim: Since I started with the book, let me finish it. I went through a bookstore yesterday and they said, "We have the book here, we're selling it very well, we have all your other books, too!" and I said, "You know, this is the first interesting book I've written?". All the books I write are about business, politics, or PR.

Host: Your books are professional!

Maxim: I hope the hosts are happy with the Seychellois cuisine. I want to wish everyone to put Seychelles in their pocket, because it's very easy, everything about Seychelles you put in your pocket.

Host: Say something about the coronation now!

Maxim: It won't be in London. I won't be in Bulgaria, nor in The United Kingdom of Great Britain then, because, as far as I understand, the circle of invitees is quite narrow, and it consists of royals only. The information I have is that from Bulgaria will be the king with his two grandsons - Boris and Beltran, who are the sons of the first-born son of the king, Prince Kardam, who passed away exactly seven years ago. The accident was 12, 13 years ago. He was in a coma for many years. Last New Years before he passed away, I spent it with him and Princess Miriam, he was in a coma. I really wanted to give him my respect. His two sons, Boris, and Beltran, whom I met on the day of their father's 60th birthday in London, on the 2nd of December last year. We talked a lot about their father.

Host: You mean even the sons of the king won’t be there?

Maxim: No, it will only be the two grandsons of the so-called, first-born son, as far as I know. Kirill could be there, maybe the other children, but I only know about them, and we will watch them on TV.

Host: By the way, last time we talked with you about Prince Harry's book, you made a prediction that the coronation would probably be used as an occasion for reconciliation, but will it be?

Maxim: Yes, I was right, they will both be at the coronation.

Host: Meghan again said something rude in regards the royal family, somehow it seems that the hatchet has not been buried.

Maxim: The hatchet cannot be buried because these are different generations, different thoughts, different things are in the heads of these people. They live in two different worlds. What Harry and Meghan did, giving up all their monarchical privileges, titles, and everything else, was something that no one had done in the entire history of the empire, and there is no way there can be a buried hatchet. But what King Charles said about two weeks ago was that the two would be there. That's what we talked about with you before. I think they will be, because these people, whatever their feelings might be, whoever they fight with, these people have a positive outlook on things, and they don't like somebody talking bad about them, and they don't like somebody saying they have a quarrel with the other. In my opinion, they don't even have these categories - I'm angry, we don’t talk, I don't care.

Host: Yes, but harsh words were thrown from one side.

Maxim: Well, the other side thought about them, if not thrown. I think they will be at the coronation, it will be a big event, although from what I read, compared to his mother's coronation many years ago, 4-5 generations at least have changed, it will be much more modest. Let's wish only success to the new king and to see him in Bulgaria soon, because he hasn't been here in a long time.

Host: Hopefully! If he comes, it will most likely be thanks to you, because I don't think he knows anyone else in Bulgaria, apart from the king and you.

Maxim: I am working on it; I am working very hard on this matter.

Host: I hope it happens!

Maxim: I will come here first to tell you, if the boys are not in Seychelles during this time.

Host: God bless! From your mouth to God's ears! Maxim Behar!

You can watch the whole interview here.

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