Slovenian gastronomic destination, the roundtable, marks the beginning of the fourth annual selection of THE SLOVENIA RESTAURANT AWARDS for the year 2020.

Interest in our country as a culinary destination has been increasing year-over-year, confirmed by the Slovenian selection of the best restaurants, TSRA, which takes place for the fourth time, this year. Based on Slovenian public’s needs and interests, the selection is split into several levels; the restaurants are graded by the Expert Committee (prof. Janez Bogataj, PhD, Aleš Gačnik, PhD, Yuri Barron and Niko Slavnič), the gastronomic jury, professional members of the eleven Slovenian gastronomic associations, chefs, the media and the general public. The selection is national and after the vote is finished, the winning restaurants are collected in one handy book.

WHAT’S NEW FOR THIS YEAR’S SELECTION OF THE SLOVENIA RESTAURANT AWARDS?

The round table was followed by a press meeting, where the speakers (Valentin Bufolin, Vice President of Sommelier Slovenija, Gašper Puhan, President of JRE (Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe), Črt Butul, Butul Homestead and Niko Slavnič, MA, the initiator of The Slovenia Restaurant Awards) presented what’s new for this year’s selection.

The key change in this year’s selection is that the organizer has invited members of Slovenian professional associations (Slow Food Primorska and Štajerska, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the Wine Convent of St. Urban Ljubljana and Portorož, Sommelier Master, SloVino Sommelier Club and the Sommelier Society of Slovenia) and the media (Delo, Žurnal, Urban Life, Pet Zvezdic, Dober tek) to join the voting process. The range of participating restaurants has also seen changes from last year. The Slovenian review of restaurants, under the TSRA umbrella, wishes to contribute to the independent and professional overview of the best restaurants in Slovenia. The selection happens at several levels and is intended for a wider audience, domestic and foreign visitors. We think the market’s wants and needs demand such a selection, because we’re aware, that gastronomy tourism is becoming the fastest growing tourism industry in the world. This has also been confirmed by the fact, that Slovenia has been awarded the honorary title European Region of Gastronomy for the year 2021.

TSRA IS A SELECTION OF THE BEST, THAT SLOVENIAN CUISINE HAS TO OFFER

We want to make it easier on the guests, to decide what and where to eat well, increase restaurants’ recognition and help raise the level of the culinary offer. Gastronomic delights are an important part of guests’ tourist experience and Slovenia is one of the trendy culinary destinations. The TSRA selection offers an innovative local and international presentation of our tastiest treats. The information is also available to foreigners, visiting Slovenia, as the TSRA selection also offers an innovative local and international presentation in English. The selection’s vision is an even wider international recognition of Slovenia as a gastronomy tourism destination and a long-term increase of the quality of restaurant service.

VOTERS AND THE VOTING PROCESS

The Expert Committee consists of prof. Janez Bogataj, PhD, Professor Emeritus, doctor of ethnology and professor of art history, doc. Aleš Gačnik, PhD, head of the Department of Cultural Tourism and Cultural Heritage at Turistica and head of the Centre for Gastronomy and Wine Culture at the University of Primorska, and Yuri Barron, an international reporter and the editor-in-chief of the international publishing houses The Slovenia and InYourPocket.

Gastronomic Academy consists of:

  1. Chefs (every restaurant gets three votes),
  2. Gastronomic Associations (Slow Food Primorska and Štajerska, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the Wine Convent of St. Urban Ljubljana and Portorož, Sommelier Master, SloVino Sommelier Club and the Sommelier Society of Slovenia),
  3. Media (Delo, Žurnal, Urban Life, Pet zvezdic, Dober tek),
  4. Foodies (recommended culinary enthusiasts – the general public).

Independent outside judgment: Deloitte Slovenija performs an independent review of a portion of ballots from the Gastronomic Academy and the general public, in accordance with the agreed-upon voting system. The review of the “voting system” encompasses a systematic professional overview of the technical and organizational aspects of ensuring credibility of the process itself. The final selection complies with the rules of the vote, while the voting results are reviewed by Deloitte Slovenija.

Voting process: How did the Expert Committee prepare the selection of 250 restaurants?

Based on expert criteria and personal experience, the Expert Committee prepared a long list of restaurants, which, based on their review, offer an excellent culinary experience, with their culinary offer and quality of food and service. In accordance with the Slovenian Tourist Board, they divided Slovenia into four regions; Alpine Slovenia, Mediterranean & Karst Slovenia, Thermal Pannonian Slovenia and Ljubljana & Central Slovenia.

The selection happens in three stages

The wider selection of 250 restaurants was prepared by the Expert Committee, who then turned over their list to the Gastronomic Academy for the vote. Their votes count for 75% of the final grade. Based on results of the first round of voting, the organizer removes half of the restaurants from the list, and turns over the shortened list to the general public, who’ll be encouraged to vote online and on social networks at the beginning of March 2020. The public’s vote counts for 25% of the final grade.

PROFESSIONAL VOTE (Gastronomic Academy):

  • When: 1st to 29th February 2020
  • Who will vote: Members of associations that make up the Gastronomic Academy, three representatives from every restaurant, the media and foodies (following the ‘one person, one vote’ rule)
  • Who can they vote for: Any of the 250 restaurants, that are part of the selection

PUBLIC VOTE (People’s Vote):

  • When: 1st to 31st March 2020
  • Who will vote: The entire public (following the ‘one person, one vote’ rule)
  • Who can they vote for: Any of the top 100 restaurants, selected by the professional vote

The voting process will finish at the end of March 2020. The closing event will take place on 5th May 2020 at the Evergreen restaurant in Smlednik. It will be accompanied by the Gourmet 4.0 conference, the awards ceremony and the Fine Dine charity dinner made by the best chefs.

OLD REGIONS, NEW RESTAURANTS

In 2020 we’ll be grading 250 restaurants from all regions, 49 of which, are new and on the list for the first time:

Alpine Slovenia: 56 restaurants – 7 new

Mediterranean & Karst Slovenia: 63 restaurants – 15 new

Thermal Pannonian Slovenia: 45 restaurants – 10 new

Ljubljana & Central Slovenia: 86 restaurants – 17 new

The list of TOP 100 best restaurants of THE SLOVENIA RESTAURANT AWARDS 2020 is available on the official website of the selection www.the-slovenia.com.

You can also watch the event on our official Facebook page, by clicking on the following links:

https://www.facebook.com/THESLOVENIA/videos/2809916335766586/

https://www.facebook.com/THESLOVENIA/videos/3059126384098829/

SLOVENIAN GASTRONOMIC DESTINATION, THE ROUNDTABLE

We talked with the roundtable guests about the upcoming selection and why it’s important to collaborate with different associations and, gastronomy and enogastronomy experts.

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Roundtable guests’ statements:

Introductory thought by Niko Slavnič, MA (lecturer, director and the initiator of The Slovenia Restaurant Awards project) was, that for a long time, the word food hasn’t meant a full plate, but has increasingly become a synonym for an offer for the curious and active guests.

Helena Cvikl, MA (Acting General Manager of the Tourism Directorate): “Where do we see growth opportunities for Slovenian tourism in the area of gastronomy?” We have a sustainable tourism strategy for 2017-2021, which puts greater emphasis on gastronomy. She stated that the European Region of Gastronomy is a big project with 21 partners, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which will encompass approximately 68 events.

Karina Cunder, Delo: In order to become a culinary destinations, we first need eaters. We have a public and we must understand, we also have gastronomy.” 30 % of tourist think, that a good culinary experience is one of the main highlights of their journey.

Barbara Zmrzlikar (ERG project lead at the Slovenian Tourist Board):The STB’s role is that we’ve prepared an action plan for development and marketing of the gastronomic region and tourism of Slovenia. All the global trends show, that even big destinations want to be genuine and return to nature and quality ingredients, which is something Slovenia already has.”

prof. Janez Bogataj, PhD (ethnologist): “Our gastronomy is like our tourists, and tourist structure tells us, what kind of gastronomy we have, but there are certainly exceptions.” He emphasized that we should firstly have respect for gastronomic traditions and not just because it’s currently fashionable. Food and waiting staff should be the definition of order, displayed by their behavior, appearance and labels. That’s something that should be updated.

Chef Tomaž Kavčič (Gostilna pri Lojzetu – Dvorec Zemono): “Food is something that lands on the plate, but there is a story behind it, that begins with the local growers.” Cooperation with local food and beverage producers should be taken for granted. The most important thing is, that ingredients are local (this includes other Slovenian regions) and seasonal.

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Marjan Cukrov (Slovenia – European Region of Gastronomy – Work group lead): “Plans and collaboration opportunities between segments like farming, tourism and food, have great potential.”

Media contact: jana.studen@the-slovenia.com, tel. 041 538 791

Attachment 1: Roundtable photographs

Attachment 2: The Slovenia Restaurant Awards press conference photographs