On Wednesday, May 15, 2019, TCN was lucky to be a part of one of the eight Jeunes Restaurateurs (JRE) masterclasses.
Now, if you aren’t familiar with Jeunes Restaurateurs, allow us to enlighten you.
JRE is an association of the most creative chefs from 16 countries in Europe. In Croatia, JRE boasts 14 restaurants, including San Rocco, Pergola, Marina, Zigante, Monte, Draga di Lovrana, Plavi podrum, Boškinac, Foša, Pelegrini, Dubravkin put, Villa Ariston, Konoba Boba, and Lešić Dimitri.
This association of the most creative gastronomy, founded in 1974, includes around 350 restaurants and 160 hotels in total, spread across 15 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
“JRE chefs combine extraordinary talent, a deep passion for cuisine, a love of local produce, and a strong sense of tradition. Their cooking expertise paired with the outstanding atmosphere of their restaurants offers a truly incredible experience.
JRE membership is open to young restaurateurs and chefs under the age of 42. However, when members reach the age of 50, they are awarded ‘honorary’ status and join JRE’s ‘Table d’Honneur’.
At JRE, everything revolves around sharing, encouraging and inspiring passion and talent for food. Our young chefs show great solidarity with each other and are delighted to exchange their cooking knowledge and expertise. As a guest at a JRE restaurant, there’s no doubt you will reap the benefits of this collective passion,” reads the JRE website, and after attending one of their masterclasses, this became even clearer.
The JRE masterclass held on Wednesday completed the association’s masterclasses for the first part of the year. Namely, JRE held two at the Miele in Zagreb and two in Split. Each JRE masterclass is traditionally held at Miele, a high-end German manufacturer of domestic equipment and appliances.
The final masterclass for this half of the year featured chef Vjeko Bašić of Konoba Boba in Murter, a famous restaurant that prides themselves on traditional Kornati cuisine and locally sourced ingredients from the surrounding area. While most masterclasses max out at 8-9 guests, the demand for Vjeko’s culinary skills attracted around 12 curious visitors at Miele in Split.
Bašić began the masterclass with a welcome hors d’oeuvre; a perfect round of homemade (and gluten-free) tapioca bread, topped with fresh anchovies, osmugalj (which is best-translated in English as opposite-leaved saltwort), and dried olive oil, made with a combination of maltodextrin, olive oil, and salt.
What rounded off the experience even more was that each course was paired with a different Croatian wine, and each serving plate was a unique Miele product.
The first – a Pjenušac (sparkling wine) from the Šember winery in Jastrebarsko.
Up next, Bašić filleted a fresh Branzino (or European bass) into thin and delicate pieces for a carpaccio dressed with a lemon gel.
This course was paired with Blend No. 1 from Dvorac Belaj in Istria, a mix of chardonnay and malvazija.
For the main course, Bašić constructed a risotto using the broth of boiled Branzino, the broth of fresh asparagus, which he joked was picked at Krka National Park, white wine, and a bisque made from the heads of scampi, tomatoes, and onions.
After it was tediously mixed for a solid half hour, the risotto was topped with quickly pan-fried scampi splashed with angostura bitters and an asparagus foam. The third wine pairing was a Sauvignon from the Galić winery in Slavonia.
One unique takeaway from the masterclass experience was that JRE makes a limited blend of olive oil with the award-winning Chiavalon from Istria. You can find the oil in JRE restaurants, or, for example, at one of their masterclasses.
And for dessert? A simple yet decadent lemon cake decorated with lemon curd and almond flour crumble. We ended the evening with a Dolceto by Franc Arman in Istria.
You can find all the photos from the masterclass below.
The JRE masterclasses are a way to bring the chef’s culinary talent and passion for food and local ingredients to an intimate setting of curious and like-minded people. The next four JRE masterclasses will pick up again in October with new JRE chefs. And stay tuned this summer, as JRE has something exciting cooking.
To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.