Key Q – Quality Istrian Cuisine at Gortanov Brijeg, Pazin

Lauren Simmonds

As we previously reported, the Istrian cooking workshops are being held from October the 15th to November the 28th, with Chef Jeffrey Vela leading first, and this year for the first time, the youngest Michelin-starred chef, Danny Srdoč will be featured, as well as pastry chef Petra Jelenic, and Norwegians Daniel Rosvold and Robert Elias Rydland.

As Glas Istre/Mirjana Vermezovic Ivanovic writes on the 11th of October, 2019, the first in the cycle of culinary workshops starts at the Educational and Gastronomic Centre of Istria on Gortanov Brijeg on Tuesday, October the 15th, for which more than 150 participants have applied so far, and more are still expected since the applications are open until the end cycle on November the 28th.

The workshops are organised by the Agency for Rural Development of Istria (AZRRI), with the assistance of IZ, OKIŽ and the County Chamber of Commerce.

The first will be led by Chef Jeffrey Vela, known in the world of gastronomy and culinary art as a ”food designer” who uses local foods to create innovative and interesting dishes. The workshops were announced at yesterday’s press conference by AZRRI Director Igor Merlić, President of the Chamber of Trades of Istria (OKIŽ) Robert Momić, his deputy Andi Vitasović, Secretary Eros Sorić and Edmondo Šuran, Head of the Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship Development at AZRRI.

The workshops have been united under the name Key Q – the key to the quality of Istrian gastronomy, and they’ve been attended by about one thousand chefs over the last four years. Merlić recalled that they are now running for the fifth year in cooperation with Istria County and OKIŽ, and the intention is to bring indigenous Istrian cuisine, as well as its more modern version, closer to the hotel and catering sector, as well as to restaurateurs and regular citizens.

In this way, the aim is to encourage the development of indigenous products, as well as local breeds, such as Istrian Boškarin (type of cattle), which was once sadly on the verge of extinction. It also wants to preserve the Istrian donkey, the sheep, and also the goat, which is also only just hanging onto survival.

”We’re the only example of good practice in Croatia. The emphasis is placed on the valorisation of the local products, thus opening up the possibility for farmers to live off their labour. The workshops are filling up well, and if there’s a lot of interest, we will repeat them,” Šuran said.

He announced some new names among workshop leaders: in addition to Vela, there will be the youngest Michelin-starred chef, Deni Srdoč, from the Draga di Lovrana Restaurant, who will hold a workshop on October the 29th.

For the first time on November the 14th, Petra Jelenić, the owner of Mak na konac in Zagreb, will present her creative desserts. There will also be two Norwegian chefs present, Daniel Rosvold and Robert Elias Rydland, who will show how to bring Norwegian culinary ideas into the preparation of Adriatic fish and meat of Istrian cattle on October the 21st.

Among the presenters is Robert Perić, who will take a look at Istrian mozzarella in modern gastronomy on October the 17th, and will present six innovative desserts of Istrian curd on October the 24th. On November the 21st, he will talk about Istrian red garlic as a new brand and its multiple uses in both traditional and modern cuisine.

David Skoko will show participants how to prepare blue fish. Fabrizio Vežnaver from the Pergola restaurant and sommelier Filip Savić will be introduced on November the 11th. Interestingly, according to Šuran, the best-selling dish in Istria is – pizza. That is why a workshop will be held on November the 27th to the 28th, where pizza from Naples will be shown.

”Research shows that adventure and gastronomy are the third motive for guests to come to Istria. Guests want to try local, indigenous Istrian cuisine, which we’re proud of, and that’s reason enough for these workshops. We aspire to become a bio region, side by side with gastronomic regions like Tuscany and the Basque Country,” said Merlić.

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