Chef of the Week: Tomaž Bratovž of Restavracija JB, Slovenia
We are thrilled to feature one of the best young Slovenian chefs out there – Tomaž Bratovž. Slovenia has transformed itself into a gourmet destination in the past 10 years and Tomaž Bratovž is one of its rising stars.
Tomaž has culinary excellence in his blood as his father Janez Bratovž is a local legend as he’s regarded as the godfather of Slovenian fine dinning.
Let’s see how having a famous chef as a father has influenced Tomaž’ career and what his thoughts are on Slovenian cuisine and culinary master craft.
1. What inspired you to become a chef?
Well of course my family. I was in the restaurant when I was born and i didn’t look back from then on forward.
2. Where did you train to cook?
I went to a gastronomic tourism school in Celje and I helped my dad in the restaurant. I was apprentice in a number of Slovenian restaurants and for 6 months I worked in Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain.
Editor’s note: Arzak is a Michelin three-star restaurant in the Basque Country in Spain.
3. Your father is considered one of the best chefs in the world and the godfather of Slovenian fine dining. How much pressure does that add for you to perform at a very high level?
My dad is amazing. He wakes up at 7:00 in the morning every day and is in the restaurant all day. I see him and always think I want to be like him, but it’s not always easy. But, hey, that’s life and I wouldn’t change it for anything else.
4. What is something that few people know about you?
I love life – every product that comes to the restaurant has it, and it gives me joy .
5. Tell us about your work at Restavracija JB? What is the concept and what was the inspiration for this season’s menu?
Our team is young and full of ideas. We never do a season menu because we change one dish every week or so.
It’s always about the product. If it’s in season my dad will bring something new to the restaurant and we will try to make something we all like. Then my mom and dad will do the final Ok and it’s a new plate.
6. What’s the most popular item on the menu?
It’s our ravioli filled with homemade ricotta and pistachios in heavy cream and veal demi glace. I love pasta, it’s simple and if done correctly you just need butter.
7. Tell us a bit about Slovenian cuisine? What makes it special and what are the top Slovenian dishes we absolutely need to try out?
Slovenia is made to be the best culinary destination. We are small, but we have everything: from the mountains to sea.
We are very diverse geographically and can get really good product directly from farmers or fisherman. There are a lot of dishes I really like: jota, which is made out of beans, potatoes, sauerkraut and pork, or ajdovi žganci which is buckwheat cooked in water.
Štruklji is a must if you’re visiting. We have a lot of different ones salted and sweet .
8. What do you regard as the quintessential Slovenian ingredient?
I think everything is essential. Everybody that lives in a rural area has a garden so onions, potatoes, carrots , kohlrabi , cabbage and many more.
9. What does the Slovenian fine dining scene look like?
Slovenian cuisine is fantastic everywhere you go you will find passionate people who will give you an experience you will never forget.
10. You are regarded as one of the best young Slovenian chefs. What sets a top chef apart from the pack?
Love what you do and everything will follow.
11. Do you have a signature dish or a favorite dish that you enjoy cooking?
I love every dish but my love for pasta will never go away 😉
12. Do you follow food trends? If so, what is the top trend for 2020 and what’s next for 2021 and onwards?
Of course, I see a lot of trends but trends come and go. You need to be yourself in the kitchen and go your own way. People feel the heart of a restaurant and that’s why they come back.
13. What are your future plans?
To work in JB and to never stop learning.
14. What advice would you give someone who wants to become a successful chef?
Work as much as possible, read books about your favorite chef(s) and never stop questioning. Be better everyday. If it gives you, joy you will be great.