KITCHEN AND TIME. SEASONS. BOREDOM. PAST TIMES.
Marko Pavčnik, chef, Pavus restaurant
Time is what the guests take when they come to enjoy at our restaurant at Tabor castle. The seasons influence what we serve them. Boredom is what I have to facilitate in order to create new dishes. Past times are what invokes nostalgia and new inspirations. Guštfest in Laško is an original nostalgic project, that I love to dedicate my time to.
Tabor castle is a place that should be known to all the locals and one that is truly worth visiting. It has lovely views of the town and hosts our restaurant, recognised by connoisseurs as one of the top 10 in Slovenia. Our kitchen is extremely creative. Most of the dishes that we’ll serve you, have never been seen before, although they include recognisable ingredients. The most special among them are foraged foods that exist all around us, it’s just that most of us, to my enjoyment, don’t know that they’re edible. Another important ingredient is beer. Alongside four other selected chefs, I cooked with it at the nostalgic social and culinary event Guštfest, which takes place in September on Laško’s Aškerc square.
When you take the time
Of course, many things change when you’re cooking in your own kitchen in the castle ambiance or instead the middle of the town. Yet, besides the high-end cuisine of authentic chefs, street food does deserve special attention. When me and my family go on culinary inspired vacations, we explore everyday, street and restaurant food on daily basis, on the other hand, we make special plans to visit a high-end restaurants and dedicate proper time to them. The same applies to the guest that come to us for the full experience, that can take hours.
Ingredients, provided by the season
Since I regularly change the menu, the guests have more than enough reasons to regularly return to Pavus. The seasonal menu is comprised of dishes made from ingredients that are at their best. The majority of them, more than 90%, are local. I also forage for them – even right next to the castle, where there are 15 meadow herbs that ended up in this year’s feature soup, as well as in the forest, where I found all the ingredients for one of my dishes. What grows around us are exquisite ingredients. Many of them – like elderflower and, this year’s first, magnolia flowers – are pickled for the late autumn and winter. When there are no fresh ingredients, even beer can make its way onto the list.
Excellence requires boredom
Excellence in the kitchen depends on the excellence of the ingredients. I work with what is locally available, here and now, the best. Since there is a lack of literature and other sources on foraged foods in high-end cuisine, there is a lot of research to be done. In time, I want to put what I know into a book. It’s gonna be great. I just have to find the time for it. The time that is also needed for creating new dishes. The best are created when I get bored. Since there is a lack of it in the mad tempo of things, I have to create it on my own!
Creativity for everyday and special moments
I love to share what I know in workshops that we run at the castle. The major area of interest before the sessions is the preparation of meat dishes. In reality, the participants are already masters of it and so what really stays with them is a new approach for preparing sides and non-meat dishes. It’s almost time for a course in vegetarian cuisine!
Colours, beauty, taste and surprises – this things matter every day but even more so at special occasions like weddings. While preparing this feasts, I spend a lot of time talking to the two most important people of the day – the newlyweds. My experience allows me to take on their ingredient requirements, while maintaining my level of execution. Well known ingredients are prepared in unique, unknown ways that can really surprise and impress the wedding party.
What I do is not just fine!
I don’t expect every dish to wow every individual. To his or her taste, it might be rubbish. But I can never ever accept my dishes being just “fine”. I create from the best ingredients, making the most of my knowledge and experience. That’s why what the guests gets on the table can’t be just fine! It’s either top-notch or it isn’t. It either impresses or disappoints. Everything in between is not true!
I want to make top-notch things. Come and visit Guštfest to see if me and my colleagues will succeed at doing so! It won’t be just okay. It’ll be great!