Meet the People of Split: Peter, The Sushi Guy and Pepe the Clown

Daniela Rogulj

Photo by Frank Adelhardt

Continuing our “Meet the People of Split” series on March 8, 2017, we introduce you to Peter Stoyanov – a new member of the Spit community. Famed sushi chef, celebrated clown, and world traveler, Peter has already made his mark in the city of Diocletian. Here is Peter’s story. 

1. First off, tell us about you. Where are you from? Where did you grow up and go to school? Where have you lived and traveled?

Hi, I am Peter Stoyanov, a 33-year-old Bulgarian. I am a Virgo and was born in Razgrad (north-east Bulgaria) to a dancer and a drummer. I grew up around the stage and art. I studied biology and English at NMG Razgrad and then moved to Plovdiv to study acting and puppetry. Where have I lived and traveled? It might be easier to show you a map…


Greece – Corfu, Poland – Wroclaw, Krakow, Germany – Kiel, Cologne, Manheim, Dresden, Norway – Oslo, Kragero, Namsos, Steinkjer, Spain – Grenada, Malaga, Austria – Vienna, Czech Republic – Prague, Slovenia – Ljubljana, Latvia – Riga, Sweden – Stockholm, Croatia – Split, Dubrovnik, Zagreb

There are always 3 main things in my life: food, music, and acting. Without these 3 aspects present in my life I do not feel sane. I was lucky to find the street as a stage very early in my life and took the adventure of traveling and working in different places. 

2. From Bulgaria to Split – how are you finding life in the city so far?

Bulgaria to Split.. haha, more like Bulgaria through all over Europe to Split. People here are similar to Bulgarians but not as tormented. Life here is a bit easier, and the tourist business makes it easier. I love the climate and the sea. It has always has been a dream of mine to live next to the sea and to own a boat or yacht and sail around. My grandfather was a captain. Maybe that is where it comes from… 🙂 

3. You began your career in Split as a sushi chef at Oyster and Sushi Bar Bota – want to tell us about that experience? 

Before Split, I was in Norway – Oslo, Steinkjer, Namsos, Bergen, and Kragero. Norway is very beautiful but is an isolated and cold place, especially for someone with the Balkan mentality. I thought that I would be able to fit in there but it didn’t work out. I guess I wanted the warmth of the summer and the warmth of the people. One day I decided it was time to move on, and I googled the Mediterranean coast and I remembered Split. I had come here with a show and loved it. I checked out the sushi bars in Split and sent CVs to everyone and Bota was the only one that answered. Three days later I was on a plane to Split. I worked with Bota until the end of last year and after January I decided to go my own way and do my own thing with sushi. 

My “career” as a sushi chef started in Bulgaria where I first gained curiosity, and since then I’ve traveled and always used the chance to at least talk to the sushi chefs around. In Poland, where I lived for 4 years, I got involved professionally in the kitchen and improved my skills in making sushi. Maki Sakata, a Japanese sushi chef and a good friend of mine, took me in as a student and assistant. Anja Grela, a Korean/Polish chef and a couple of people I worked with in Poland showed me a lot of things about the sushi philosophy.


4. Now you’ve moved on to “The Sushi Guy” and have already been a part of many events here in Split. Want to elaborate on this? What is the concept of “The Sushi Guy”?

The Sushi Guy is the result of my evolution as a chef. The idea came after I started working at Bota. People started saying to me, “yeah you’re that new guy…the sushi guy”. The “sushi guy” somehow stuck and I adopted it as my name. I fell in love with Asian food – Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Sri Lankan, Indonesian, Japanese, Cantonese, Korean…The diversity and richness of flavor in these cuisines drives me to explore my own limits and imagination. The goal of “The Sushi Guy” here is to popularize these cuisines, starting with sushi here in Dalmatia. Locals are still afraid to try this new fancy thing called sushi which is “raw fish and rice” (or so they say). My goal is to show them that it’s not only this and show them my personal journey through the local flavors. 

For me, sushi is like jazz music. If you know more about the story behind each musician or style or song, you would be able to enjoy the experience more. There are 2 types of people: the people who live to eat and the people who eat to live. I live to eat. The flavors, taste and the experience of food are incredible for me. And I would like to make food for people like me – those that are excited by flavor. Many times I say good food is better than sex. Maybe that’s because of age or my head changes, I don’t know… 🙂

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Photos by Jerry Blackwell

5. While you’re known as a sushi chef here in Split, were you involved in other culinary ventures in your life? What other restaurants have you worked in?

In my young years when I was a student at university, I used to work in the kitchen. I didn’t like it, but I had to to earn money. After I started working on the street as a clown, cooking became more for relaxing and meditation for me. I could express myself through food. Now I cook nothing else – I love Asian food and I cook Asian food, that is it. 

6. We know you’re known as “The Sushi Guy”, but you also have another special perk – a clown! You’ve been seen on the Split Riva often dressed in the full clown getup – want to elaborate more on this? How did you get involved? What do you love about it?

Pepe the Clown! Haha, that is a 10-year-old adventure that still goes on. The streets have been good to me and gave me people skills and a good job. I have traveled throughout Europe, and now I’m about to travel to Singapore and Thailand because of “the clown”. In May of this year, if the negotiations with the organizers go well, I might have to go back to Saigon in Vietnam.

What do I love about it? The dynamic of it. It is never the same. It is never boring. It is like the sea: if you are not being careful or think about what you are doing it will swallow you and you will “die”. If you win, then the hat is full and people love you. But that’s only for today – tomorrow you must start again from zero.  


The clown show is something special for me, it is my alter ego. It is also my way of putting a mirror in front of the people and saying “HEY THIS IS WHAT YOU’VE BECOME…WAKE UP…SMILE!!!”. Especially here in the Balkans, people need to constantly be reminded of the beauty of life and how lucky they are to live here. Although the clown show is not just a kid’s show because of the character of the humor sometimes, I really enjoy watching and working with kids – especially toddlers who are 3-5 years old and see everything as new and amazing. They are the ones that really surprise me and give me new ideas and inspiration to create and help people smile.

poeple clown

7. Since you’re a chef, what are some of your favorite places to eat in Split? Favorite places for cocktails, beers?

Haha, food….I like the funky shit. The new places like Corto Maltese, Tony is making really interesting things there. Artičok also – a very interesting hipster place. I like some of the local specialties but I really miss the street food and Asian food like Indian, and in general the diversity in flavors. Zagreb has already started and there are a couple of places there, but here it is only risotto, pasta, pizza – Italian food really. Gnocchi Dalmatian style??? 🙂 Anyway. I miss the food and maybe that’s why recently my cooking has gone for more rich flavors.

I am not much of a cocktail person and I have other ways to relax after work. But beer, wow, I miss good beer. I had a situation once in a restaurant: The waiter came over to me and I asked for a suggestion. The waiter said, “this beer is local, a really good one”. Okay, I thought, “I’ll have this one then”. The waiter brings it and it has the totally wrong taste and is bitter as F&$k. I then said, “I’m sorry, have you tried this beer yourself?”. “Yes”, the waiter said, “and I don’t like it, but people buy it… it’s Croatian craft…”

Some beers are okay but when you have lived in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, etc, it is really hard to like any of the local beers. There is this Belgian guy Peter here who imports crazy craft beers and I am really happy when I find a bar that sells Triple Carmelite or Duce.

8. Since you have lived outside of Split, what are some things you think Split is missing? 

Split needs more open-minded people. Diversity in restaurants and food will eventually happen if there are more people who won’t just copy and paste from their neighbor because his concept works. But Split needs creators. I also miss jazz music here. Not the pretentious 100kn concert in the theater thing, but the real music made here and now. 

Croatia needs to work on the functionality of the government system. In Norway, 90% of documentation happens online, and there aren’t thousands of documents that need to be filled out and stamped. If this jungle disappears then Croatia will be a much better place to have a business.

9. Where are some of your favorite places to explore in Split? Anywhere outside of Split you love to visit?

I love the Old town. The harbor, Marjan hill – although I’m often too lazy to go there 😉

10. And finally, how would you describe Split in 3 words?

My New Home 


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