The first Slovenian Michelin Star across the border


We are weeks away from finding out which Slovenian restaurants will receive its first Michelin Star.

However, not many people know, that there is one Slovenian chef who already received his Michelin Star years back.

The story takes us across the Slovenian-Italian border, which is now finally open after being closed for months due to the Coronavirus epidemic. On the Italian side of Goriška Brda, just a short drive away from the Slovenian border lies a Michelin starred restaurant La Suibida, where our fellow Slovene Joško Sirk holds the prestigious honor that is the Michelin Star.

Joško Sirk from Michelin starred restaurant La Subida

It is quite difficult to describe Joško Sirk. One could say he is a man who wears many different hats. From having the first almost Slovenian Michelin Star, he is a sommelier, master chef, vinegar producer who loves his cheese and prosciutto, and honors traditional dishes and flavors that younger generations seem to have forgotten. The Michelin star is only one out of a number of recognitions that Joško Sirk has received in his career in the restaurant business. 

Joško Sirk serves as a splendid example and a huge inspiration to many chefs and restaurant managers, as he has received numerous international and national awards, alongside many flattering reviews in culinary guides for his work and dedication in the field of gastronomy. La Subida, his restaurant has one Michelin Star, furthermore, Gault Millau has given Joško Sirk 3 hats, years back, ranking it as one of the best restaurants.

Joško Sirk’s attitude towards the acknowledgment of Michelin Guide is pragmatic: “A Michelin star can be either a blessing or a misfortune. If you consider it a prize for your work, it’s OK, but if you consider it something else, there is no need to jump from a bridge if you don’t get it. We are proud, we give our thanks, and that’s all.”

Joško Sirk and his family have also been included on the list of top 100 inns in the world, selected by the American News week a couple of years ago. Joško Sirk is, of course, proud of his achievements and recognition from the well respected French guide – Michelin, however, his life does not revolve around it, as he likes to emphasize when asked about being the first Slovenian to receive a Michelin Star. He says, that the Michelin star cannot be the only motivation for chefs, as he believes a person or a chef must believe in his work and od what he or she believes in.

Joško Sirk from La Subida, the first Slovenian to receive a Michelin Star

Joško Sirk has been in the restaurant business since he was a teenager at the age of 16. Sirk said: “When sixteen I became a publican. My father died suddenly, my sisters left me everything: an osteria!

He got married to Loredana at the age of 22, the pair met at the inn where they both worked at. He continues “I married a very young girl who had had the itch of falling in love with me and who, for me, abandoned her medicine studies for the osteria.” Loredana was 18 at the time. Joško Sirk and his wife Loredana knew the business well and were determined not to be in the hospitality industry to survive but to create something.

In 1976, they began to abandon the farm that lived next to the inn and began to focus all their energy on the tourist facility. Today, in addition to the inn, there is a swimming pool, fences with 18 horses, bicycles, motorcycles, a park, a tennis court, a large playground for children, and twelve farmhouses.

Wine and flavors of the past

Joško Sirk is also a sommelier and probably one of a few people that understand the importance of Goriška Brda (Collia), as he has an extensive wine list at his Michelin starred restaurant. La Subida’s wine list features all the best Slovenian winemakers alongside some amazing Italian and French wines. Joško Sirk enrolled in the then-emerging Society of Italian Sommeliers in 1974. By being a member of the society he was able to travel the world and learn from the very best examples of hospitality, such as Steirereck in Vienna. After a couple of years he also took on a roll of the head of sommeliers in Furlania.

In the 1990s, Joško Sirk and his chefs began to develop a philosophy that tended to revive specialties and dishes that were already sinking into oblivion between the younger generations. These were simple dishes, prežganka, hrvatica, žganci, polenta, fresh salami baked in vinegar, and the famous jota. His culinary philosophy has gained traction, and till this day he stands by it. Sirk continues to explain: “My philosophy is: you can’t look to the future if you can’t transfer it to the past. At the same time, we need to adapt the past to the needs of the future. We did nothing without it. Then it’s like a national costume – useless in everyday life. We have to adapt the cut from the past to today’s needs. Same in the kitchen.

Michelin starred restaurant La Subida

A family-owned trattoria, La Subida has been in the hands of the renowned Sirk family since it was opened by Joško Sirk and his wife Loredana in 1960.  La Subida is a tiny, green-tourist resort that also features an amazing restaurant. In the hills, amongst Goriška Brda foremost vineyards it draws his raison-d’être from them and from their wine. Originally run as a small osteria and inn, the La Subida estate has grown with the family to now encompass welcoming rooms and chic accommodation options, an enticing bistro, and the highly acclaimed Michelin-starred restaurant for which it is famous. The La Subida restaurant boasts itself with authentic Brda expressions accompanied by an amazing variety of carefully selected wines.

Otherwise, the inn itself, under the command of the new couple, established itself in two phases. In the first phase, sometimes until the early 80s, it was still a village inn. Then the village “activities” – refreshments with prosciutto, sipping coffee, and playing cards – were moved to a new building, and in the central house they focused on the guests who came to the so-called culinary ceremony.

At La Subida the describe the favors coming out of the kitchen as beyond, the Slovenian mountains, the Danube plain, the splendor of the Hapsburg empire. At La Subida run by Joško Sirk and his family you will find unique diversities of butter and smoked produce. Two diversity they like to combine in a form of gastronomic philosophy.

La Subida family of Joško Sirk

At its heart, La Subida a Michelin starred restaurants, you will be able to get a fell of family-run osteria that keeps on evolving its Mediterranean favors combining the local ingredients from Goriška Brda.

The combination of stunning surroundings, peaceful woodlands, and excellent hospitality seems to be doing the trick – La Subida has attracted some of the world’s greatest culinary names, including René Redzepi, Alberto Adrià, Alex Atala, and David Chang, for their holidays. No wonder, this restaurant received a great amount of attention, including the attention of the famous French guide.

Michelin Guide in Slovenia is coming. Find out the exact date!

Which Top Slovenian restaurants will receive Michelin stars (and how many)?

Joško Sirk thinks Slovenian restaurants and inns deserve Michelin stars. The believes that there are a few that deserve a Michelin Star in Slovenia. Joško Sirk is proud of such recognition and looks forward to seeing the first Slovenian Michelin starred restaurants in June. Sirk stated: “We are all extremely satisfied and proud of such recognitions. For a restaurant owner it’s a kind of life achievement. But of course, for me as a restaurant owner and also personally, it is not my only goal in life. I very much appreciate the fact that my restaurant won a star, but even if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

The announcement of who will receive the Michelin stars in Slovenia is only a few weeks away. Find out below who is the front-runner to receive the first-ever Michelin star in Slovenia.

Source: RTV