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Tadej Gašparin

Pikol

An expert of raw dishes who is famous for his preparation of seafood delicacies and the cult sea bass carpaccio from Pikol, which he prepares in front of his guests.

About chef

A great chef is also a lover of pizzas made from leavened dough without tomatoes and with various ingredients. Different. Like himself.

Cooking is in his genes. His great grandmother was a chef in the Austrian court of Maria Theresa, both his maternal and fraternal grandmother worked in the hospitality industry, while his father and uncle as well as their wives took over Pikol in 1980. Now, Tadej runs Pikol together with his brother, keeping the family tradition alive. His mother is always around and ready to help.

Favourite dish
Various pieces of cheap cooked meat with additions like horseradish and kohlrabi.

Because he likes pure flavours and cooked meat.

Favourite ingredient
Salt

There is no cuisine without salt. Salt is the be-all and end-all of cuisine.

The Gašparins are an important part of the wine scene of Goriška brda. They produce wines and sparkling wines under the Silveri trademark and Blanc de Blancs was chosen as the sparkling wine of 2019 in Protorož. Silveri wines supplement seafood delicacies and fish dishes, which are the basis of what Pikol has to offer. Tadej kept quite a few dishes from his parent’s time, as he likes to use traditional recipes, local ingredients and local producers.

Družin Gašparin
Tadej with his parents and brother
Photo: Pikol archive
“A mistake new cooks make is that they begin their career two metres below the top, but there is nothing below.”

Tadej says that a good cook must respect tradition and master the basics of the cuisine representative of their area. They must begin with traditional recipes and local ingredients and then build on that. After that, experience is what counts. He says that he has always been curious. Curiosity brings a desire to learn. And another thing is important – a special feeling: “Without it, you’re a machine and cook only according to the recipe.” He never cooks according to only one recipe. He always reads three or four recipes and combines them. “If you cook according to only one recipe, you make a copy, whereas cuisine must be authentic,” says chef Tadej, who doesn’t want to be like everyone else. He wants to stand out.

Gastronomy in Pikol Restaurant
Photo: Pikol Restaurant archive

Most flavours are familiar, etched on people’s memory. When you combine them, you know that this must be it.

Cooking can be either complicated or simplified. Tadej simplifies it. He doesn’t want to complicate his dishes with ingredients, he doesn’t like chaos on his plates. He favours the principles of yin and yang and less is more. He works a lot on raw dishes, prepares carpaccios and tartars, mainly on a fish basis. He likes preparing marble trout which he marinades in salt and sugar and slightly smokes using cherry wood. He adds liver pâté and soup from fermented onions.
Pikol has been known for its sea bass carpaccio for over 30 years. Tadej’s father used to make it and it is still made according to the same recipe. What was once a taboo is a sought after speciality today. The essence of the dish is that it is made at the table in front of guests. All ingredients matter, from citrus juice, chestnut honey, olive oil to the mixture of twenty peppers and juicy pomegranate kernels, but fish is crucial. Fresh fish. The value of the dish was also recognised in the edition of the Italian culinary guide Best Gourmet and declared it the best dish of 2018 in the Alpe-Adria region that covers Italy, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.
Not only experts, but also guests daily recognise the value of dishes from chef Tadej’s kitchen. Sometimes, guests from Southern Italy catch a plane in Palermo, fly to Trieste, take a taxi and come to Pikol for lunch. After lunch, they go back home. Surprising, but true. “Food is only a part of the moment. A greeting and a warm welcome, the atmosphere and service matter too,” says Tadej who believes that a successful story requires it all – hard work, teamwork and infrastructure.

Photo: Pikol Restaurant archive

Chef's Restaurant

Pikol

Pikol smells of the sea, home-made olive oil and wine.

Read more