TOP Slovenia Interview: Donata Krašek

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Donata Krašek is the owner of Stara Gostilna in Piran. A few weeks ago we met with Donata Krašek for lunch at her restaurant in Piran.

Let us start this interview off by congratulating you and your amazing team for receiving the Michelin plate for good cooking! How did it feel to be honored and moreover recognized by the famous red French guide Michelin? 

Firstly I would like to thank you for your congratulation. We are more than happy and honored to be recognized by Michelin – especially in such a short period of time since we started with »new« Stara gostilna. To be in this famous guide was of course our one of our goals, but honestly – when we got the information, we are listed – we were a shock – positive of course, with tears of joy. It was a big reward for our three years of hard word, big efforts, and investments in establishing restaurant with a completely new concept. Now it is a big motivation for us to get better and better each day.

We have entered Stara gostilna in Piran, what do you personally recommend us to try from the menu? What is the one signature dish in your restaurant and which one do your chefs prepare the most?

I would recommend one of our signature dishes from our menu: scallops – a hot starter – are one of my favorites. We receive fresh scallops every day. They are opened and prepared with extreme care. We serve them with cauliflower that’s been cooked in burnt butter, hazelnut mayo, toasted hazelnuts, and crithmum, that´s been picked on the Piran coast on the same day. Freshness and authentic flavors are our priorities. This goes also for one of the most popular choices of our guests –  fish tartare.

For the dish that you just recommend us with, which wine would go the best with? 

We would recommend young Pinela, with its freshness and a gentle floral bouquet.

How is Stara Gostilna in Piran different from other restaurants in the area? What makes it stand out? 

We are always on our own path, we don´t follow trends. We are making our own story in Piran with creativity and great attention for each and every guest. Our plates are handmade and every single one of them is different. If everyone is white, we are black.

Your restaurant Stara gostilna was supposedly one of the first restaurants to be opened in Piran. How does it feel to carry on this tradition? 

We are a 5th family running this restaurant. It is an honor to be part of that legacy, while it is as also a big responsibility as well, especially after taking Stara gostilna to a completely new level a few years ago. Now, with a fresh, premium concept we are looking forward to achieving new goals with great optimism.

You have been running Stara gostilna in Piran since 1997. How has the restaurant and the charming town of Piran changed over the last two decades? 

We started with classic Adriatic food, such is fish baked in the oven, potatoes, pasta, etc. But 4 years ago we decided to make a total change. We closed our restaurant for 28 days for the first time and made everything »upside-down«. We started cooking more refined food and we started with our new story. Now Stara gostilna is not just one of the restaurants along the promenade in Piran, but an exquisite place for fine dining which was missing before in this charming town.

Can you tell us and our readers how did the epidemic of Coronavirus in Slovenia affects your restaurant business?

It was very hard at the begging, we had to close our restaurant for a period of 3 months. But it was also a big milestone for us in a sense of writing a new chapter in our story. It was a time for contemplation – what do we want to achieve next and how to do it. After we opened again after lockdown, we strengthened our team with two new perspective young chefs with shared vision for our future.

Do you get more Slovenian tourists or foreigners? Which ones are more demanding in your opinion? 

The situation changes because of the Covid-19 situation. Previously we were getting a lot of recognition by foreigners, however now we have more Slovenian visitors. All of our guests have high expectations. We don’t see our gest as demanding, we see them just like regular guests – but more refined.

What is the recipe for success in your opinion? Is it a team of excellent chefs, quality ingredients, or loyal returning customers? Perhaps a sweet mix of both? 

The most important thing for success is to have a great team, with the same passion, the same mentally, and the power of running the restaurant. If we achieve all that, that perfect balance, customers will get it, and they will always come back.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you over the years?

If you find new love, you will also find a purpose in life. I am lucky to find a love of my life – my partner in passion for culinary and also in personal life. He has been with me in moments when I needed to support the most – since the begging and will stay till the end.

What is your personal motto or philosophy in life?

We need to enjoy life. If we don´t do what makes us happy, then what´s the point? Every day counts, there is no room for mistakes. But if they come, we have to learn from them in order not to make them again. My motto is very down-to-earth: “if you want to reach your goals and dreams, you cannot do it without discipline.”