Why are excellent restaurants - excellent?


What all excellent restaurants have in common is that we feel good when we visit them. But every restaurant and every chef has a secret sauce and their own ways of achieving this feeling with their guests. We asked the chefs of Gault&Millau’s best restaurants to share a piece of their worlds.


Chef Jure Tomič from Ošterija Debeluh says that his recipe is to never forget his roots. Using local ingredients and working hard every day helps to remind him of that. “I want every guest at our restaurant to really feel like an honorary guest, because he/she took the time and decided to trust us, which is why we do our best to make the whole experience perfect - from beginning to end,” he summarizes his thoughts about making a restaurant and its atmosphere excellent.

Gregor Vračko from Hiša Denk swears by his environment and the inspirations he gets from it: “Nature and seasons lead me when it comes to deciding what to put on a plate, even though that doesn’t mean that we always have to be local. The whole world is our canvas but our immediate surroundings truly define us. Looking from afar, this is a marathon. I might have been prone to setting trends in my younger years, but one soon calms down and ceases to reinvent the wheel. Be yourself, everyone is already taken,” says Gregor. “You have to be your own person and a conductor without his orchestra means nothing as well as the other way around,” he adds with a smile.

His brother David Vračko from Restavracija Mak is an even firmer believer in magic realism that happens in the exact moment when you step into the restaurant and close the door, leaving the outside world behind. It is magic because it comes from everywhere and realistic because the content is dictated by locally produced ingredients - more than 70 percent of them from their garden. “Our own garden dictates the way of working, so our plates are always chaotic-symbiotic,” David describes his own recipe for an excellent restaurant.

Chef Igor Jagodic from Restavracija Strelec leaves it to the seasons, ingredients and a walk around the farmer’s market where he gets the ideas for the most innovative recipes. His motto is that everything they bring to the table must be excellent and nothing less than that. He is a chef who loves to communicate and meet his guests, which is an important part of excellent restaurants as well.

Ana Roš from Hiša Franko says that their cuisine is a combination of different seasons which bring new recipes and all the people who create it: from the chefs to the local inhabitants. She attributes the success of their restaurant to a top-notch menu: “Yearly, we switch from 50 to 60 plates and I can see that these are more interesting to our guests that the old ones, because they bring new, fresh energy,” says the first lady of Slovenian cuisine.

Finally, we asked Tomaž Kavčič from Gostilna Pri Lojzetu about what makes a restaurant excellent. “You need soul, passion, consistency and a team who supports you. I often remember my nonna who said that you have to really know the foundations before you can get creative. This is why I always begin with the basics, traditions and stay true to my environment - the best way is from the field onto the plate. I truly hope that our guests feel our efforts, because this is something I also try to feel when I am a guest somewhere,” he finishes his thought.

Each chef has their own secrets and recipes but what they all have in common is that they get the ingredients from the local environment and work with local producers. This is the only way to stress tradition and quality of food, which the guests recognise and it is also the reason they keep coming back. They also keep coming back to places that made them feel welcome, appreciated, and where they received impeccable service. Places that made them feel wonderful and where they felt the chef’s love of what they do.