November 28, 2023 – JRE – Jeunes Restaurateurs, a well-known international association of restaurateurs that unites young chefs and owners from more than 350 restaurants and 160 hotels from 15 different countries, holds their awards ceremonies every two years. As they say on their official website, they honor exceptional talents who shape the gastronomic world. 6 Croatian chefs made it onto the prestigious list of nominees for 2024.
On this occasion, notes Dobra Hrana, JRE awards excellent individuals in six categories: Talent/Chef of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Sustainability Award, Innovation Award, Sommelier of the Year, and Taste of Origin.
In each of the mentioned categories, 11 candidates from different countries were nominated for the latest edition of the awards, and among all of them there are numerous representatives of the local gastronomic scene.
Nominated Croatian Chefs
The JRE Talent/Chef of the Year award is given to individuals who strive to create a kitchen that is in line with their personal values and philosophy, and at the same time offer an extraordinary experience to every guest. Among the nominated chefs is Marko Gajski, who heads the Michelin-starred Restaurant LD located on Korčula. During his career, Chef Gajski has been through the kitchens of the great Alain Ducasse, the Gauthier Soho restaurant of chef Alexis Gauthier, and Bar Boulud of the notable chef Daniel Boulud. Nowadays, with his precise and passionate work, he contributes to the progress of the Croatian gastronomic scene.
Sommelier of the Year is awarded by the association, as they point out on the pages, to the most prominent member in the sector, an individual who creates a culture of excellence and takes care of everything from the perfect ambiance to the carefully arranged wine cellar, while also supporting young professionals in their efforts to achieve excellence when it comes to hospitality. Next year, that title could go to Rudolf Štefan, the owner of Pelegrini restaurant in Šibenik, a place that has had a Michelin star next to its name for several years.
The Sustainability Award is given to a chef who proudly lives and works in harmony with the environment, uses fresh, sustainably, and ethically produced ingredients in their kitchen, and is also dedicated to sustainable development and raising awareness of how our choices affect the world around us. Considering the green Michelin star, it is not surprising that the candidate for this award is chef Bernard Korak of the Korak restaurant from Plešivica. In addition to growing their own garden, and making their own cheeses and other products that Bernard Korak uses in the kitchen to prepare meals, there are, of course, wines from the family winery that they pair with the dishes they offer their guests.
At JRE, they believe that innovation is the key to progress, so they also award a chef who, while respecting the culinary heritage, constantly creates unexpected experiences and unique pleasures using the most modern techniques, develops inspiring gastronomy and innovative dishes for the new age. Among the candidates is Ivan Badurina from the restaurant Badi, which is located in Lovrečica near Umag, and which, with its creative approach, is ushering a family restaurant with a long tradition into a new era.
All nominees in the Taste of Origin category celebrate tradition by using the past as an endless source of inspiration to create exceptional classic cuisine. JRE emphasizes that heritage is a dialogue between the past and the future, and chefs in this category try to preserve tradition and bring it into the future. The Croatian representative among the candidates is Vjeko Bašić from Restaurant Boba on Murter. Bašić is the creative force behind well-thought-out dishes in one of the best restaurants in that part of Croatia, and he works with his team to keep island traditions alive.
To have a meal in a JRE restaurant means to enjoy a flawless, perfectly executed top dining experience, JRE emphasizes. But behind the scenes, a team of true professionals led by a talented chef works tirelessly to ensure only the highest standards. This is precisely why they also have the Entrepreneur of the Year award. Chef Teo Fernetich from the Istrian restaurant San Rocco, located within the hotel of the same name in Brtonigla, was the local force nominated for this award. San Rocco is known as one of the best hotels in the area, and their restaurant is a renowned address for all lovers of seafood delicacies and white truffles.
The JRE awards ceremony will be part of the JRE 50 Years Congress to mark the association’s 50th anniversary on April 7 and 8, 2024 in Paris, France.
More information can be found on the JRE official website. Good luck to all the nominees!