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Matija Lelas

Restaurant Sophia

A chef who is not afraid of unusual combinations of ingredients.

About chef

He explores new ingredients, combines the traditional with the modern and serves classic dishes in a local way.

Matija enjoys preparing classic local dishes in a completely new way. He combines elements and raw materials that, while extensively used in Slovenia, are usually not found together. He says that he plays with ingredients. In chestnut gnocchi with crab ragout, smoked shrimp head oil and spinach, he combined flavours that one wouldn’t really expect on the same plate – chestnut and crab.

Favourite dish
Pizza

He never tires of it because it's simple and you can prepare it in a thousand ways.

Favourite ingredient
Grapefruit

With a little imagination, he can combine it with anything.

This young chef has already gained a lot of experience. Before working at the Kempinski hotels, he managed the kitchens at the Terme Dobrna spa, at the Best Western Hotel in Kranjska Gora, at the Metropol Hotel in Portorož and at Casa Nostromo in Piran. He is a level 2 sommelier according to the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), and also holds the Master of Coffee title, which he gained at the Illy University of Coffee in Trieste.

Chef Matija Lelas
Photo: Restaurant Sophia archive
»Less is more.«

Early in his career, Matija Lelas thought that he would impress the guests with good technique, but later on he realised that nothing beats good raw foodstuffs that do not require excessive processing.

a dish at Restaurant Sophia
Photo: Restaurant Sophia archive

A multi-talented chef

He explores combinations and combines tradition with modernity. He enriched tolminska frika (Tolmin frico) with buffalo mozzarella ice cream, fermented strawberries and tomato gel. He also likes the idea of ​​classic dishes prepared in a local way and using local ingredients. An example is home-made fettuccine with bolognese sauce with octopus instead of minced meat, and to which dried and salted cod, another local delicacy, and buttermilk are added. A classic Italian sauce with a twist.

While running the kitchen at the Sophia Restaurant, he studies dietetics at the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Primorska in Izola. He says he is a passionate cyclist as well as a talented painter. He has been painting since he was very young, so he says that the profession of chef actually came as a surprise. On the other hand, he adds that cooking is close to art, because just like a piece of art is recognised, the success of a dish depends on technical skills, imagination and worldliness, and the means of creation and combinations are almost limitless.

Foto: arhiv Restavracija Sophia

MICHELIN GUIDE 2023

Chef's Restaurant

Restaurant Sophia

At the level of a prestigious five-and-a-half-star hotel.

Read more