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Uroš Štefelin

Vila Podvin

A creator of culinary souvenirs, who upgrades old Slovenian dishes from Gorenjska with new ideas and modern techniques.

About chef

Uroš bets on the promotion of the Slovenian tradition he preserves in his dishes, ambience and the environment from which he hails.

Uroš’s culinary story features his hometown. He includes local ingredients from his garden and nearby farms into the revival of traditional dishes from Gorenjska, which he gives a modern soul. He is creative with flavours, colours and shapes, and with each plate, he proves that traditional Slovenian cuisine also belongs to more prestigious restaurants.

Favourite dish
Kroparska žonta

A traditional Slovenian dish made from veal liver cooked by his grandmother.

Favourite ingredient
Celeriac

When he combines it with fruit or vegetables, the flavours take on whole new dimensions.

He made his first cooking efforts as a child when he hung around the kitchen of his grandmother, who was a professional cook. Even today, he finds inspiration in his childhood, although he adds a pinch of his infinite imagination to traditional Slovenian dishes and gives them a modern twist with different techniques and plating. He does not use exotic ingredients in his cuisine. “I don’t want to provoke the wow factor with flavours that are different simply because we don’t know them,” says Uroš. Instead, he shows that combinations of various Slovenian ingredients can create numerous interesting flavours.

Uroš Štefelin
Photo: Ciril Jazbec, Tent Film
I rely on the local ingredients that are available in a certain season.

He believes that the Slovenian culinary heritage is our unique advantage. This is the reason why Uroš draws inspiration from old cookbooks to create new dishes. However, he mainly relies on local ingredients. The local farmers who he cooperates with are of great assistance to him. They provide suggestions about ingredients and products, they decide together what they will plant, and they sometimes revive a long-forgotten ingredient. For example, the tepka pear. “These pears used to be cut down because they grew by the road and they had to expand roads.” Today, they are planted, preserved and used for many things other than brandy and dried fruit. Uroš uses the pears to fill pasta with the Carniolan sausage or prepares them with crayfish.

Gastronomy in Vila Podvin
Photo: Vila Podvin archive

He is irritated when parents say that their children are very picky about what they eat.

Another of Uroš’s missions is to spread cooking knowledge to young people. He teaches them about healthy and good food at cooking workshops and other culinary projects. “Children have potential, they like cooking.” And what they cook, they are happy to eat. Even cauliflower and kohlrabi. That is why he does not believe in the urban myth among modern parents that children don’t eat anything other than fried potatoes and Viennese steaks. “We can teach children to eat other things apart from fast food in a fun and innovative way, taking care of their health with more diverse nutrition.”

Cooking is playing – from what we know to experimenting. “The result is what counts. It is great to be satisfied with the result.” Cooking is also a very complex job. Good cooks must study a lot and test themselves by practising with various cuisines and styles. As there are many sources from which you can draw cooking knowledge, hard work is among the greatest virtues in cooking. “Hard work and passion. You can’t learn and work without passion,” Chef Uroš is convinced.

As he was starting out under Silvester Križaj at Vila Bled, he learned that there is much more than just the classics and gained new momentum. Today, his cuisine is unique and he draws from tradition and the environment. “Each cook must feel themselves and cook what is close to their heart.” Uroš grew up with the Slovenian cuisine, which is why he remains loyal to it. He discovers it anew and upgrades it. To do that, he relies on his taste, and when he likes a dish, he knows that it is good.

Photo: Ciril Jazbec, Tent Film

Chef's Restaurant

Vila Podvin

Idyllic Vila Podvin in the peaceful surroundings of Alpine nature is a place where new Slovenian cuisine is made from traditional dishes.

Read more