Hi! I’m Jiri.
This is my blog about food and everything I associate with food.
My background is European, as I grew up in Czechoslovakia and Sweden. Food is very much associated with my fondest memories.
Mushrooms often remind me of going hunting for cepes with my grandfather. He would call out to the mushrooms to show themselves (already having spotted them) while I would run around excitedly almost tripping over them.
My grandmother, on the other hand, was more involved with the actual cooking. This would include everything from rendering goose and pork fat, making cheese, preserving fruits and berries, baking, and pretty much everything in between.
I was 6 when we escaped Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia and moved to Sweden. It was there that I spent my forming years.
In Sweden, the food culture was much different. It often seemed that we were eating fish and potatoes 8 days a week, and by fish I mean mostly herring.
There, we would often catch pike, perch, and herring or gather snails for the dinner table instead of raising rabbits or chickens. We still foraged for mushrooms and berries and my mother was a really good gardener just like her mother.
Sweden was more modern and the dining out culture was flourishing. My mother enjoyed cooking and trying out new trends. We, as kids, would enjoy them sometimes and other times not so much. As often happens when you get older, I now cherish the memories of the kaleidoscope of flavors we had the opportunity to try.
Eventually I graduated from school and set out to travel the world. My travels brought me to the US where I settled down in Connecticut.
After trying a few occupations, I fell into the restaurant business and enjoyed it very much. It felt natural, fulfilling and very exciting.
One of my earliest jobs in the kitchen was, of course, a dishwasher tackling mountain of plates, glasses, and silverware, the old French waitress muttering “merde” as she flung saucers dangerously close to my head.
The pulse and energy of the kitchen was exciting, the aromas of the food were magical and pretty quickly I was prepping buffets and cooking on the line.
Every chance I had I would pick up cookbooks and magazines that would be devoured from cover to cover.
This is what I wanted to do. I had found my passion.
After working in about a dozen restaurants, I finally opened my own first place. The opportunity to create whatever I wanted was great. I opened a second one with my partner and, eventually a third one while also operating a catering business and giving cooking classes at one of the restaurants.
Having a restaurant of your own is fantastic because you can create anything you want. You can go in in classically adored directions such as filet of beef Wellington, galantine of duck, pates, cassoulet, or in totally new directions. Sometimes picking up fresh ingredients from local farms, like different herbs and spices, can spark your imagination to create something new.
The next chapter in my food journey was in food retail. There I had the opportunity to meet and visit with small, local vegetable farms. I also met with beef, pork, and lamb farmers. I was impressed by the quality of their production and how they focused on the animal welfare. I was also shown how to identify and pick the best ingredients.
Travel is another one of my passions and there are always great memories associated with the places I have visited, their cuisines and cultures.
In Paris, I am at the cozy neighborhood Brasserie having andouillettes and a bottle of Vin de la Maison. I enjoy oysters at the Bourough Market in London or paella on La Rambla in Barcelona. The taste, smells, and sounds will forever be imprinted on my mind when I reflect on these cities and their glorious food.
To bring everything together, it is important to remember that food is not just about nourishment and health. It is about the cultures, places, flavors, textures, wines, drinks and mostly about sharing it with people you love or sometimes total strangers, but enjoy it and have fun.
And, so, here I am cooking for the love of it and growing a big garden for fresh ingredients. Now, I will be writing about it!