First Bourdain Day Held at “Boškinac” on the Island of Pag

Total Croatia News

Fabio Šimićev

July 1,  2019 – We are, after all, citizens of the world—a world filled with bacteria, some friendly, some not so friendly. Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico, and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafés and McDonald’s? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once, said Anthony Bourdain in his book Kitchen Confidential.


And it pretty much sums up his motto in life. He was a famous chef, writer and TV personality, and a man who traveled the world but unfortunately left it much too early, at 61 years of age. And one year after his unfortunate passing away, the world is still mourning, but also celebrating his unusual and fabulous persona.


On the 25th of June, the First International Bourdain Day was held all over the world with events and tributes. From the USA and Canada to Europe and Africa; from South America to Asia – people who admired and still admire Bourdain and his work wanted to celebrate his legacy on the Day he was born. Bourdain Day was also celebrated in Croatia, a place he has visited a few years ago and was so taken by the beauty of the country, the tastes of the local wines and exceptional food that he openly, in his specific style, said that anybody who hasn’t visited Croatia yet is – an idiot. 


Hotel Boškinac on the Island of Pag organized First Croatian Bourdain Day, the event co-hosted by Chef Mate Janković, who was Tony’s Croatian guide at the time of his famous visit. Nearly 200 guests gathered in Boškinac to honour the life of Anthony Bourdain.


“It’s a beautiful thing, when the reality lives up to your hopes and expectations; when everything—everything—is as good as anything could be,” said Bourdain on his programme No Reservations in Spain and, indeed, the dinner in his honour on Pag – lived up to everybody’s expectations.


The host, Boris Šuljić, warmly welcomed everybody with „longa bevanda“ (wine diluted with water) and proudly presented Hana Čičić, a journalist and a foodie who ideated and initiated the Bourdain Day event in Croatia. While DJ Kanca, Ozren Kanceljak, was playing the sounds which would undoubtedly have been approved by Bourdain himself – who had excellent taste in music and firmly banned Grateful Dad from his kitchen – guests started to get „into the groove“. Producers Tomec & Grabber, (Marc Grabber and Krešimir Tomec) were also presented with their “Dalmatian Dub”, “Dalmatian Lounge” and “Deep Into Croatia” music projects.


The dinner that was served was identical to the one Bourdain enjoyed back in 2011 when he was in Croatia filming ”No Reservations: Croatian Coast”, or were directly inspired by them and mainly consisted of different variations of the famous lamb from the island, including the lamb tripe. Chef Mate Janković told the story of his trip through Croatia with Bourdain and claimed that he would remember it all his life, and posthumously thanked Bourdain for the enormous impact his visit had on Croatian tourism and gastronomy. Mate introduced to the guests and presented Croatian wine producer Alen Bibić who also welcomed Bourdain at the time – in his winery and offered him exquisite 12-course dinner prepared by his talented wife Vesna. Alen also expressed his gratitude for Bourdain’s visit since the episode from Croatia was watched by 120 million people around the world.


Truly a unique personality, Bourdain once said: “What does freedom mean? I don’t know that either, I guess. For sure, it does mean the freedom to enjoy an afternoon no one thought possible only a little while ago. The freedom at least to joke, to laugh, to be for a while, relatively carefree.”


That is exactly what was the aim of this fantastic evening under the stars on the island of Pag. As Hana Čičić has put it: “Tonight was meant to be, and indeed it was – an honest celebration of a man who gathered us all around the table and united us with so many dear and familiar faces, good friends and connoisseurs of the food and the wine. But it wasn’t so much about sophisticated food – it was about the joy of life and all those nice moments that life brings about – that become memories. The food courses were paired with excellent Boškinac wines but the cocktails made by the talented Zvonimir Lovrenčić were also worth remembering.


The food had a signature of both Boris Šuljić and his talented chef with Michelin recommendation, JRE Matija Bregeš. Matija and his team have once again proven that it is equally important to be able to prepare sophisticated fine dining food and cook the traditional food.  Chef Bregeš presented his team while the third course was served and it was quite spectacular when 12 different varieties of the cheese from Pag have been cut. The dinner lasted until the early morning hours of the next day – celebrating life, food, wine and, above all – friendship. Everybody is looking forward to repeating the celebration next year in Bibić winery on the 25th of June 2020. 

All photos by Fabio Šimićev

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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