The European Young Chef Award is a competition promoted by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Art and Tourism (IGCAT) from Barcelona. Encouraged by assist. prof. Aleš Gačnik, who is also a member of the international IGCAT group of experts, Turistica’s student Filip Matjaž participated in this prominent European competition. Filip has been flourishing for several years as a creative young chef and as a member of the Slovenian Young Chef Team. He gained his cooking skills in their family restaurant Tomi in Portorož.
Filip Matjaž represented the Mediterranean Slovenia (Primorska region) with the dish Taste of the Slovenian Sea and won the excellent third place, and thus became a mentor for future young chefs and at the same time the IGCAT ambassador for the Primorska region. Under the guidance of prof. Aleš Gačnik, the latter is preparing to apply for the status of European Region of Gastronomy. The winner, Aisling Rock from Galway – West Ireland, European Region of Gastronomy 2018 impressed the panel with her dish: Mackerel, Pickle, Sheep Yoghurt. The silver went to the Finnish Kuopio, Region of Gastronomy 2020, with the dish Blueberry pie gone to forest prepared by Josi Polso.
The first day of the competition, the participants presented a traditional dish to the jury panel; however, the next day they upgrade it with a modern version of it. Filip’s story was inspired by the tradition of the Istrian winds, full of vegetables, which are a base for every “Brodet” (fish stew), accompanied with the delights that the Slovenian sea has to offer.
He presented the innovative Istrian Brodet on an enamel plate produced in Slovenia. He first arranged it with vegetables and a clam cake, and so presented the seabed and Istrian garden. He placed the cuttlefish on the cake as it swims just above the seabed. On the top, he added pieces of fish in a threadlike pastry with which he portrayed a fishnet full of fish. Next to it, he served a sauce of traditional Istrian Brodet in an enamel cup, which was once used as a ladle. A final touch for the innovative version of the Brodet was the scampi salt that was prepared out of scampi and salt from the Sečovlje saltpans. To prepare his dish Filip used only the best sea delights and completed it with organic vegetables, produced in the Slovenian Istriaorgana, the Vinakoper malvasia wine and extra virgin olive oil from the Morgan olive farm.
Filip’s culinary motto says that every dish should represent the region, history and people living there. The dish reflects the region’s gastronomic identity, which allows guests to feel the destination. Furthermore, this is the exact content of his dissertation, which he is preparing under the guidance of prof. Aleš Gačnik.
Photo: IGCAT archive