Interview: Mate Janković - Lidl's culinary project Tomaž vs. Mate.

Mate Janković is a renowned culinary master and former member of the jury of the Croatian show Masterchef, who decided to compete with our own Tomaž Kavčič in the Lidl cooking duel. Tomaž vs. Mate is an innovative cooking project that brings together the intoxicating flavors of local and international cuisine, and convinces that cooking can also be fun. The witty cooking opponents with simple recipes are served every week on Lidl's website.

Why did you decide to participate in Lidl's cooking competition?
I decided to participate because it represents a great personal as well as business challenge for me. Participating in the Lidl project allows me to socialize with the greatest professionals in the culinary field, make great business progress, make new acquaintances and try new things. Through this kind of cooperation, I can reach a wide circle of people and teach them about the incredible possibilities that culinary engagement offers.

What are you better than your cooking opponent, Tomaž Kavčič?
Honestly, I don't think about it and I believe that Tomaž doesn't worry about it either. My approach is professional, with a lot of enthusiasm. I don't look at who is better or worse, but rather believe that this kind of cooperation is welcome for both. By exchanging professional knowledge and experience, we can only enrich ourselves and become even better. One simply feels accomplished after such collaborations.

How does the modern "chef" differ from the traditional one?
I believe that the purpose of both approaches is identical - that is, to create great dishes and evoke emotions in the people you serve them to. Although both want to preserve tradition, they differ in their interpretation of it. A modern kitchen is like a "remake" of a black-and-white movie. The modern chef preserves the original, but brings it closer to new generations with a personal author's touch. Modern cooking is a kind of upgrade of tradition.

What would be on the menu for your last dinner?
The answer to this question changes from year to year. A person grows, changes, gets to know new things and tastes, and also returns to the old ones. The last supper should not be pompous. Rather, let our lives be large and fulfilled. For the last dinner, I would probably treat myself to a plate of pasta with tomato sauce and a fine amount of grated parmesan cheese. After the meal, I would drink a glass of Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero and calmly wait for the skeleton with a scythe in hand while I digested it.

What do you prepare when trying to charm your chosen one?
It's like asking a Formula One driver which track he would take a girl on a first date. When I want to impress my sweetheart, I take her out to dinner. Let someone else cook while I devote myself to her. It would be extremely embarrassing for a girl to be more interested in my tortellini than I am.

What is your advice to future "chefs" at home (which we will become with the help of Lidl's instructions)?
Dare, try and test. Approach cooking with courage, the worst that can happen to you is that you simply won't like the dish. If you succeed, you will be richer for new knowledge, a new emotion and taste, and this is the greatest reward a chef can wish for. Food is not just fuel, it is much more than that. Food has the potential for spiritual fulfillment and always returns the love we put into its preparation.

Which world cuisine do you smell the most?
Any that I can't master myself and someone else prepares it for me.

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