Oh no, not another cooking show…but this isn’t just any other cooking show. Dhruv Baker, a winner of the British hit show “Master Chef,” travelled the length and breadth of Croatia last year to create “Croatia’s Finest.” Croatia’s Finest is the first big Croatian culinary travelogue in English, twenty episodes stunningly produced present Croatia’s gastronomy, cities, natural attractions and products.
And The Dubrovnik Times caught up with the multi-talented chef to discover why he has fallen in love with Croatia cuisine. His first response was “So glad you are enjoying the show! I hope that the response from Croatia has been positive.” Croatia’s Finest will be broadcast to almost 100 countries around the globe covered by National Geographic Channel Asia in the whole of Asia and Holiday & Cruise TV-Sky Channel in Great Britain as well as by TV stations in Russia. Thus, this project enables a huge audience to get to know Croatia better, its rich cultural heritage, natural beauties and supreme gastronomic offer.
Did you know much about Croatian cuisine and cooking before you started filming Croatia’s Finest?
Before filming Croatia’s Finest I knew very little indeed about Croatian cuisine so it was a real voyage of discovery for me to be able to explore, from my perspective, an unknown cuisine.
What were your first impressions of Croatian cuisine and how would you compare it to other countries?
From the second I landed in Croatia I LOVED the cuisine. The huge variety from region to region was especially exciting for me and the exceptional quality of the ingredients impressed me greatly. I would say the variety contained within the land mass is incredible.
Were there any ingredients or products that were unusual for you, maybe you had never seen them before. And if so was it tricky to prepare a meal with them?
I was familiar with the majority of the ingredients so nothing was completely new to be, but some of the cooking methods were which I loved learning about. Actually, tasting donkey milk was a first for me!!
Chefs are the new rock stars. How has your life changed after winning Master Chef UK?
I don't know about us being the new rock stars! It’s a very demanding but rewarding career and one that allows me to explore my passion for food. My life has changed completely after winning MasterChef as I get to dedicate my working like to food and learning about it.
Could you take any of the meals that you prepared in Croatia and take them to a world scene?
I think I could probably take all the dishes I cooked for the series onto a world scene. I keep saying it but the quality of the ingredients in Croatia is a real dream for a chef or cook. The seafood, olive oil, wine, truffles etc etc etc
Which dish, which you tasted in Croatia, will you always remember?
Wow that’s a really difficult question because there are so many dishes I will always remember!! Pašticada in Split at Petar Grašos restaurant overlooking the Adriatic, the truffles in Istria, the Skampi in Kvarner, the charcuterie in Slavonia, so many of the wines, Vitalac at Konoba Kopačina on Brač, lamb peka - I could go on and on!!
How healthy do you think Croatian cooking is?
I think as with all cuisines there are elements which are healthier than others and as long as you enjoy everything in moderation it’s going to be perfectly healthy. The beauty of Croatian cuisine is that there is something to perfectly match every mood, type of weather and situation. Freshly grilled seafood and salad in the sun by the coast for the summer, hearty stews in land for the winter and everything in-between. Any of course always with a perfectly matched wine to go along with whatever you choose to enjoy!