During the summer, his restaurant is a magnet to the rich and famous in search of fabulous sea food and the finest wines. Here you can find yourself sitting next to the likes of Bono, Jon Bon Jovi, and Michael Jordan.
But there is another side to Ivan ‘Gariful’ Gospodnetic, very much a local Hvar boy, and one who has done much for the community in terms of activities and projcts over th years.
One of those projects, Peskafondo, is turning ten this weekend. I feel a little nostalgic as it took place about 2 weeks after my own Total story began, and Peskafondo 2011 was actually the first event I ever reported on for Total Hvar. I wrote yesterday about reflections of that decade, and today an interview with young Gariful.
1. Peskafondo started 10 years ago. Tell us why you decided to start it, and what did you hope to achieve?
As you know, I’ve worked a lot throughout my life and given a lot to the community on Hvar and it was a delightful obligation for me to be able to return part of my success to my own place under the sun in some way, ie in my own way.
I knew that Peskafondo would go a long way and it would have come about a long time ago if I had put it on, let’s say, at the beginning of October, but then there are still tourists in Hvar and that wasn’t enough of a challenge for me given the fact that I wanted to succeed in terms of a humanitarian social event in the city in which I’d bring a thousand plus people to Hvar on a date when there are no guests. I’d then show them that Hvar is even more beautiful during the winter and can and must be ”functioning” all year round. In doing all that, there’d also be lot of fun had and we’d finally help someone out because all the income from Peskafondo’s fund always goes to someone who needs help.
2. This weekend, 10 years of Peskafondo will be celebrated. Tell us how it has grown in that time. How many competitors were there in the first year, and how many are there this year?
Well, my memory isn’t my strongest side, but I remember the first year, there were maybe 7-8 of us, about 30-40 people in my restaurant, the same story, the same idea… but every beginning is difficult and Peskafondo wasn’t any different, but even back during that first year, we had a great time, there were mostly just people from the island and nobody had come from elsewhere like they did this year, for example, when we had is the least people from Hvar, but from all parts of Croatia people came with their friends. We even had people come from outside of our borders, such as Serbs, Bosnians Italians, Slovenes, Macedonians, Germans and Poles. It will really be something this year because more than 70 teams have already registered and the number exceeds 1000 people and then some.
3. There are always some crazy competitors, and I fondly remember the fishermen from Sinj with their prosciutto. Tell us about some of them, and where do the competitors come from?
I’m very happy that the town of Sinj got involved in this story! This year, lunch for Peskafondo’s guests will be made with the Sinj specialty, arambasi, as well cured meat products accompanied by music with their traditional costumes. Their mayor will also be present.
In addition, on the second day, our friends from Skradin do the same thing for lunch and they’ll make their famous Skradin risotto and much more, and we’ll have people from Zadar bringing their own guests and I can’t describe the happiness I feel knowing Peskafondo is no longer just about Hvar, it’s becoming something that can be about all of Croatia.
It isn’t only Ivan Gospodnetic but many, many people and friends who made Peskafondo what it is. It isn’t just my name associated with it, the names of very many people now are. It’s no surprise that people from all over the county want to visit Hvar and be a part of it all this weekend.
4. Peskafondo has become bigger than just squid fishing. What can people expect at this year’s event?
I think of kind of answered everything above but you need to come and see it for yourself, I can’t and don’t want to reveal everything that can be guaranteed to everyone who intends to be on Hvar this weekend, but they’ll all be looking forward to the next Peskafondo. They’ll also be very proud of themselves because they helped someone in need and that’s the greatest happiness one can feel.
5. This is a great example of how to extend the season with authentic tourism. What else can we do to extend the season?
There’s a lot we could do as the island really does offer people a lot during the winter months. I don’t even know where to start, but we islanders know what we’ve got, we just have to show it off to the world, be willing to work together and then make sure Hvar blooms all year round.
6. Where can people find the best squid on Hvar?
In the sea!
Peksafondo 2021 starts on Friday, November 5. For more on the programme and reflections on the last ten years of Peskafondo, read Squid Games on Hvar, as Peskafondo Celebrates 10 Years.