Marijo Curić, chef of Dubrovnik restaurant 360 is the Gault&Millau Croatia Chef of the year. The Great chefs of Tomorrow are chef Saša Began from the restaurant Foša in Zadar and chef Aleksandar Grubić from the restaurant Badi in Lovrečica near Umag in Istria.
The Chef’s trophy for the traditional cuisine went to chefs Tomica Đukić and Damir Josić, from the Restauarnt & Winery Josić, in Zmajevac, Slavonia while chef Nenad Kukurin from the Kukuriku restaurant in Kastav won the Chef’s Trophy of the modern traditional cuisine.
The Young Talents of the Year are Katarina Vrenc, chef at the Sopal restaurant in Zagreb, and Mate Sučić, owner and chef of Konoba Campanelo in Mirlović Zagora, in the Dalmatian hinterland.
Zdravko Kalabrić, the only Croatian chef member of the World Master Chefs association, won the Trophy for merit in gastronomy, and the restaurant Noel in Zagreb received the Trophy for the best service. This year’s best POP is the patisserie U prolazu from the city of Samobor.
The best restaurants in Croatia, with 4 Gault&Millau toques are: 360 from Dubrovnik, Cap Aureo in the Grand Park Hotel in Rovinj, Monte from Rovinj, NAV from Zagreb, Nebo from Rijeka. Pelegrini from Šibenik, Noel from Zagreb and Zinfandel’s in Esplanade Hotel, in Zagreb.
The award ceremony took place during the exclusive Gault&Millau gala dinner in the Emerald Hall of the Esplanade Hotel, where more than 90 leading Croatian chefs gathered on Tuesday, April 18.
At the same occasion Gault&Millau Croatia presented the new, sixth edition of the Croatian bilingual guide which includes 270 top restaurants, 100 POP – popular places (bistros, street food, snack bars, pastry shops) and 100 wines from all over Croatia. For the first time the guide has a selection of 20 best local extra virgin olive oils. In this year’s guide there are 39 new entries – restaurants and POP places.
‘We are happy that despite all the challenges our gastronomy faces, the awareness of its importance for the development of the tourism and the economy is growing. We see that some Croatian regions are making additional efforts to encourage their restaurateurs and small food and wine producers to improve the quality of their offerings. We are especially glad that chefs and guests recognize more and more the relevance of our guide, and we want to thank our partners who support us and believe in the quality of Croatian gastronomy,’ said Ingrid Badurina Danielsson, director of Gault&Millau Croatia.
Mrs Nikolina Brnjac, the Minister of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Croatia and the Director of the Croatian Tourist Board, Kristjan Staničić, greeted the guests of the gala dinner.
The Minister presented the Trophy to the GM young talents, while the director of the Croatian Tourist Board gave the awards to the best Croatian restaurants.
‘The Croatian government recognized the importance of oenology and gastronomy for the entire tourism offer in Croatia through the strategy for the development of sustainable tourism until 2030, as well as through a series of measures foreseen in the National Plan for the Development of Sustainable Tourism in Croatia. I congratulate all the winners of the Gault&Millau awards, as well as all those who, with their creativity, enrich the tourist offer every day through authentic flavours and sincere and passionate interpretation,’ said Minister Brnjac.
At the Gault&Millau Croatia ceremony, the Raise the Bar educational programme – whose goal is to increase the quality of the hospitality and tourism staff, gave a scholarship to 4 young chefs and pastry chefs: Stella Pasek, Željka Bleuš and Nikola Tomašić from Croatia and Tilen Utenkar from Slovenia. This will allow them to have a training in the world’s best universities as well as a practice in some of the most prestigious restaurants.
The night of the culinary Oscars began with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Brut champagne and snacks with the President’s cheese. Chef Paul Ivić, from TIAN restaurant in Vienna, 1 Michelin* and 4 toques Gault&Millau Austria, and chef Ana Grgić Tomić, G&M Croatia Chef of the year 2022 cooked together the dinner for 200 guests. Top wines from Laguna, Belje and Mladina wineries were served alongside the vegetarian and fish dishes. Chef Ivić won the guests over with his vegetarian delicacies, while chef Ana Grgić Tomić masterfully prepared the aged sea bream by Marfish.
The Gault&Millau dinner is the largest annual gathering of Croatian chefs, a unique occasion when chefs are guests, and the highlight of the evening are the awards that recognize their creativity. The Trophy of the Chef of the Year was presented to chef Mario Curić by Fabris Peruško – member of the Board of Directors and CEO of Fortenova Group, and Uroš Kalinić – member of the board of Konzum, whose company Velpro is a premium partner of Gault&Millau Croatia.
The Gault&Millau Croatia 2023 guide is available on the website hr.gaultmillau.com and in Tisakmedia bookstores and Tisakplus stores at a price of 18 euros.
Photos Goran Jakuš & Kruno Ivanovski for Gault&Millau
Food: Cyntia Vučaj