Maroje Mihovilović’s Book “My Grandma Vilma’s Pastries” Presented

Total Croatia News

Detalji, photo by Berislava Picek.JPG
Samir Čerić Kovačević

The enchanting holiday atmosphere of the Zagreb Esplanade Hotel, with lots of charm and great pastries prepared by chef Ana Grgić and the Esplanade pastry shop according to the original recipes by Vilma Vukelić, hosted the official launch event for a book by Maroje Mihovilović, “My Grandma Vilma’s Pastries”. The book’s subtitle, “The Sweet Taste of Austro-Hungary”, introduces us to the sweet history of the Central European table culture and the spirit of the times.

The book was presented at the renowned Zagreb Esplanade Hotel, in a beautiful holiday atmosphere. It is a cookbook, but also a book about history, the table culture, the author’s family, and the forgotten habit of enjoying tea parties and pastries. The event was held in the afternoon and brought together many people from the world of media and gastronomy.

Detalji, photo by Berislava Picek.JPG

Berislava Picek 

It all began when a prominent journalist and writer Maroje Mihovilović found a forgotten and almost a hundred-year-old notebook from his grandmother Vilma, in which she wrote down her pastry recipes. Thanks to the book editor, journalist and writer Željko Žutelija, the notebook has been turned into a book about pastries, but also about the spirit of the times when our grandmothers and great-grandmothers lived, in collaboration with the pastry shop of the Esplanade Hotel headed by top chef Ana Grgić.

The story about grandma Vilma is an interesting one. Although she was a writer, she used to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and the grandchildren loved her because she taught them about everything, telling them stories and – most importantly for the children– preparing pastries and cakes, such as tasty sweet pies, strudels, floating islands and isler cakes. The damaged and partially unreadable recipe notebook was shown by the book editor and Esplanade’s long-time friend Željko Žutelija to Ana Grgić, who decided to accept the challenge and try to “reconstruct” the recipes and recreate grandma Vilma’s pastries.

Kolači moje omame Vilme - promocija knjige u Esplanadi - Photo Arhiva Esplanade - Ruski kolač.jpg


“These pages hide a treasure – both of words and of tastes and smells, as well as beautiful photos by Berislava Picek,” said at the beginning of the event Sanda Sokol, Esplanade’s marketing manager and public relations director. “Thanks to Maroje Mihovilović and the Profil publishing house, on the initiative of Željko Žutelija, who firmly believed that only the Esplanade pastry team headed by chef Ana Grgić can prepare grandma Vilma’s pastries, we have recreated the spirit of a peculiar time period, civic culture and culinary and pastry traditions which we as a hotel belong to. All this is evidenced by the impressive history of the Esplanade Hotel,” Sokol explained.

“My Grandma Vilma’s Pastries”, a glorious time-machine composed of words, photos and authentic tastes of delicious desserts, was also discussed by the author Maroje Mihovilović, chef Ana Grgić and editor of the Profil’s edition Željko Žutelija.

Kolači moje omame Vilme - promocija knjige u Esplanadi - Photo Arhiva Esplanade - Linzer torta.jpg


“Vilma Vukelić, nee Miskolczy, was a writer, translator, intellectual, wife and mother of four children, a strict housewife and an excellent cook. She wrote eight novels, memoirs and many poems, and she also left behind a notebook. As soon as I found it, I realized that it was a culinary and cultural treasure from the time when, in the late 19th century, she used to prepare Central-European-style pastries at the Miskolczy family kitchen in Osijek. I am happy that the recipes from this notebook have been presented in the book and revived by the top Croatian pastry shop of this hotel,” said Maroje Mihovilović.

About the Author

Maroje Mihovilović was born in 1945 in Zagreb. He graduated in history and English language studies from the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb. He began his career as a journalist in 1968 as an associate at Studentski List. Starting from 1974, he worked for Večernji List, and from 1975 to 1991 he was a permanent associate and editor of the Start magazine. From 1989 to 2005, he was a regular foreign policy commentator of the Ljubljana daily newspaper Dnevnik, while from 1993 to 2007 he was a correspondent for the British BBC radio from Zagreb. He was one of the founders of the Nacional weekly in 1995, where he was an editor until 2011, and in 2007 he was one of the founders of the College of Journalism. Since 2012, he has been an editor at the Profil publishing house where the edited some fifty books. He is the author of books “Horrible Polygon – Indochina” (1987), “Professional Journalist” (2007), and “We the Children of Solferino” (2017), in which he explored and described the dramatic history of his family in two centuries and on four continents.Kolači moje omame Vilme - promocija knjige u Esplanadi - Photo Arhiva Esplanade6.jpg


About Chef Ana Grgić

This young, but experienced chef has been working at the Esplanade Hotel for 20 years. She has been the chef de cuisine of Zinfandel, one of the best restaurants in Croatia, the charming French-style Le Bistro, and the Esplanade Catering for almost seven years. Ana continues the tradition of the Esplanade’s cuisine, following the best global trends in high gastronomy. Her innovative, creative and imaginative menus have fascinated numerous guests and celebrities from Croatia and abroad in recent years, as well as members of various royal families, such as the King and Queen of Sweden, the Japanese Prince and Princess, the Prince of Saudi Arabia, the royal couple from Denmark, and many others who have not remained indifferent to Ana’s ingenuity in preparing meals.

Ana has received a series of recognitions and awards for the personality, excellence and style of her cuisine. Several prestigious publications have nominated her for the title of the woman of the year and the person of the year. In 2013 and 2016, her risotto was named by the famous Guida Gallo guide as one of the 101 best risottos of the world. Ana’s style of cooking and her personality have brought her the opportunity to take part in the popular TV show “Celebrity MasterChef” as a member of the jury.

In addition, Ana is proud to be an ambassador for the Fish Forward project in Croatia, which is part of the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) initiative, to be an example and raise the awareness of consumers about the global ecological and social consequences of fishery product consumption.

Ana has been named as the Great Chef of Tomorrow by the Gault & Millaut Guide, with a special emphasis on respecting the seasonality and quality of ingredients and on the consistency and carefulness in crafting her dishes.

In 2018, Ana won the Chef Rotisseur title by the prestigious international culinary society Chaîne des Rotisseurs, whose aim is to connect enthusiasts and professionals from the culinary world.


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