Third Split Gastroadvent at Chops Grill: How Mediterranean Diet Helps Recover Senses Lost from COVID-19

Daniela Rogulj

December 13, 2020 – The third Split Gastroadvent Sunday honored news portal journalists at Chops Grill, focusing on how the Mediterranean diet can help you recover the senses damaged by COVID-19. 

The loss of taste and smell from COVID-19 is particularly pronounced. Although it is not uncommon for upper respiratory tract infections to affect our senses of smell and taste, it is precisely a symptom of COVID-19,  which attracts a great deal of attention. The average prevalence of odor loss is about 41%, while taste loss is about 38%.


It is known that people recognize four tastes: salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. In the middle of 2000, the fifth sense was confirmed, which Japanese scientists named umami – a pleasant taste. Science confirms that umami produces sodium glutamate, and it is found naturally in fish.

Loss of taste and smell is certainly uncomfortable, and to activate the olfactory nerves, most experts recommend “smell training.” Even better, the Mediterranean diet contributes to the recovery of the senses damaged by viral infections.

Fish products are a good source of zinc (Zn), a micronutrient of great importance that has a beneficial effect on the metabolism of macronutrients and carbohydrates and protein synthesis. The role of Zn in the protection of cells from oxidative stress and the normal function of the immune system is significant. It is imperative to consume enough fish, oysters, crabs, tuna, and shellfish.

As 2020 marks the jubilee 10th anniversary of recognizing the Mediterranean diet, this year’s theme pays great attention to the sea. The Mediterranean Sea boasts about 2.5 million km² and connects all countries of the original Mediterranean diet.

Following this theme, this year’s Gastroadvent wreath is also dedicated to the sea and its preservation. The seafoam wreath symbolically and literally simulates the sea world and is created from discarded trash and plastic. The Mediterranean diet theme inspired prominent sculptor Nives Čičin Šain to send a message artistically: “Let’s preserve our sea and the life in it that feeds many with its beauty.”


As this Advent Sunday was held at Chops Grill Steak & Seafood, chef Ivan Nikolić, prepared simple and quick ‘to-go’ dishes to adapt to Croatia’s current epidemiological measures. Namely, the menu items presented today included a croissant with scrambled eggs & salmon, Grana Padano, and scallions, a croissant with scrambled eggs & bacon, rocket, Grana Padano and a special sauce, and an egg burger with sriracha mayo, scallions, and cheese, which are all available for locals to pick up at Chops’ ‘to-go’ window and enjoy while walking around the city until 3 pm every day. 


Chops also prepared monkfish in shrimp sauce with macaroni. 


The fish of the Adriatic Sea was presented by partner Gastro Ribarnica Brač, which makes fish more accessible through regular campaigns, and with its professionalism, guarantee safety, availability, and originality. The Amare brand, which focuses on “love from the sea,” combines hand-cleaned meat of Adriatic shrimp, which is synonymous with quality and an indispensable food for restaurants and households, as well as marinated shrimp, marinated anchovies, and salted anchovies. Their novelty is the first burgers made of Adriatic shrimp and scampi, which have achieved notable success on the market. On the wings of this success, the idea for a burger made of Adriatic fish was created, more precisely, of four types of white fish and two types of bluefish.


Along with domestic fish during the holiday season, at Centaurus d.o.o., you can get an excellent “Premium” cod (Bakalar).


Ecology and competence in gastronomy and tourism are the future projects of the Split School of Tourism and Hospitality. Under the leadership of director Ivo Bilić, the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management Split has been appointed the Regional Center of Competence in Tourism in the summer of 2018.

The regional center of competence in the tourism and hospitality sector is the name of a long-term project of the Tourist Catering School Split and partners.


The idea of creating a Regional Competence Center (hereinafter: RCC) arose as a need to improve human resources in tourism, and this school has been in development for about 10 years. Seven years ago, a model of the center was presented at the Ministry of Tourism, originally as an idea for the development of quality schools in tourism. The initial model was for Split-Dalmatia County with about 15 schools (mostly in Croatia) that educate for at least one of the occupations in the tourism and hospitality sector (there are about 100 schools in Croatia). The main goal was (and remains) that students have better exit competencies upon completion of education and uniform in all schools. The important role of the RCC is to connect with the local community, and it will be manifested through two goals:

1) Projects with kindergartens and primary schools in creating habits among young people and encouraging reflection on tourism, and on the other hand as promoting our professions,

2) Participation in local (regional) events, creating habits among the population about the benefits and importance of caring for the guest-tourist. 

This year’s Gastroadvent also features Mediterranean Food –, a project funded by the European program Interreg Mediterranean, worth 3.7 million EUR, and implemented by the Public Institution RERA S.D. for the coordination and development of Split-Dalmatia County. The project involves 14 project partners from 9 countries in the Mediterranean, aiming to popularize the Mediterranean diet. The main goal of the project is to strengthen research in this area following the UNESCO Convention on Mediterranean Nutrition, to raise the quality of food and life in 9 project partner countries, as well as promote the Mediterranean diet, which is recognized as the gold standard of proper nutrition, as well as its far-reaching beneficial effects on health.


This time, the “Braća Radić“ school from Kaštel Štafilić presented 100% raw natural energy bars, made of broad beans, dried figs, grapes, carob, almonds, lemon, dates, and olive oil. The vegan energy bars are gluten-free and are made without any added sugar or preservatives. They are high in energy, soluble fibers and micronutrients, and plant proteins! 

All products presented at Gastroadvent will be evaluated, and the best will go to international competition in Seville, Spain next year.


Per epidemiological measures, all to-go food items were individually packed by Chops for us to enjoy at home.


We were even given Probiotic packets by M.E.V. Feller to stay healthy! 

Split Gastroadvent is held every Advent Sunday at a new location, honoring a different group of journalists. 

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


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