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Damjan Fink

An explorer of Slovenian cuisine who swears by familiar flavours and local ingredients. Conventional food with his unique mark. But, above all, he loves cooking.

About chef

Damjan’s cuisine is the traditional Slovenian cuisine, his plates are elegant and his cooking style is simple but tasty.

Damjan is a cook who likes meeting people and making them happy. He likes it when the people around him are satisfied. He expresses himself through food and it has been this way since he was a child, when he spoiled his parents with his cooking feats. At home, everything revolved around food. They had sausages, baked bread and were almost completely self-sufficient. This became part of Damjan’s identity, as he still relies on local ingredients. His mother still bakes bread.

Favourite dish
Grilled lamb and raw shrimps

He has two favourite dishes – because he like the sea and the land.

Favourite ingredient
Olive oil

It is versatile. It can be a spice, a bond between flavours and it is a healthy ingredient.

He explored characteristic Slovenian flavours more thoroughly a few years ago when he managed the project Culinary treasures of Slovenia. In a year-long project Damjan, together with young cooks and waiters from around Slovenia, successfully gave traditional Slovenian dishes a modern and innovative twist. They published the recipes in a cookbook for special tastes with a meaningful title: The Play of Tastes.

Tanja and Damjan Fink
Tanja and Damjan Fink
Photo: Dean Dubokovič
“You can tell I’m from Dolejnska.”

Damjan’s food is traditional, but so good that you could lick it off the plate. He doesn’t strive for extremes, but instead sticks to familiar flavours and never goes over the top. He hails from his region, so he likes preparing everything that is smoked: lamb, pork, fish. Local ingredients, such as Krškolje pig, bear prosciutto, trout from the Krka River and everything home-grown, rule his dishes. The lettuce from his mother’s or mother-in-law’s garden tastes completely different. He sticks to the local tradition, but still likes to adapt recipes in his own way. Sometimes he substitutes the ingredients, sometimes the amount. It is important that he attains his goal – that no one leaves his table hungry.

Gastronomy in Hiša Fink
Photo: Hiša Fink archive

A good cook isn’t born, he is made.

A good cook understands the basic flavours, but leaves his mark on each dish. They must have a style. “They must express their personality, and know how to combine flavours and how to make food edible.” That is why they need a combination of both talent and knowledge. Mere talent doesn’t suffice.
And Damjan agrees with this. He gained his cooking experience at Grad Otočec, and trained under Ana Roš at Hiša Franko and at Gostilna na Gradu which he still runs today. Damjan and his wife Tanja continue the family hospitality tradition and write their own story at Hiša Fink that he opened in his native Irča vas near Novo mesto.
When devising a dish, chef Damjan first determines its purpose: “If you have dandelion – what do you want to convey with it? Are you making a starter, a picnic, the main course, a tasting or a multiple-course menu?” Only then can you combine the main ingredient with others. It is also very important to think about who you are making the dish for. If you are making it for families with children, the ingredients, flavours and looks will differ from a dish intended for someone else.
Damjan has no issues with target groups or the number of guests. He effortlessly satisfies a young couple at a romantic dinner or 3,000 workers of the Revoz company on a picnic. When he says that his burgers, lamb dishes and steaks made such a crowd happy, we can only say – respect.

Photo: Hiša Fink archive