Grill master

Where does your picnic story begin - did the work of head chef at home picnics turn into a professional passion or did working in a butcher shop become boring? It was true that fifteen years ago I was looking for new challenges. Something to complement the work in the butcher shop,

Where does your picnic story begin - did the work of head chef at home picnics turn into a professional passion or did working in a butcher shop become boring?

It was true that fifteen years ago I was looking for new challenges. Something to complement the work at the butcher shop, which was getting a little monotonous. Ever since I was a child, I liked to go around the grill on picnics, and a combination of circumstances led to picnics becoming part of my profession.

What is the working Saturday of the head chef at Picnic?

We start getting ready early in the morning. We load all the necessary equipment into transport vehicles and drive to the event location, where we are at least an hour before the arrival of the first guests. Then we prepare everything and the party can begin. The team spends the whole day in the field: we bake, clean, pour drinks... In short, we make sure that everything is "just right". We also have fun with all of this - that's why this job is perfect for me (laughs).

In order to organize a picnic, from food and drink to space, you probably need to have some skills in addition to the knowledge of a butcher. What are some other qualities of a picnic cook?

The picnic chef is everyone's girl. Must be a good organizer, good at communicating and maintaining positive energy. Now and then it happens that we have to calm someone down. But the most important thing is that the person who organizes the picnics is a doctor in improvisation. We always forget something, something often breaks. I prefer to forget toothpicks (laughs). The worst thing is if the beer machine breaks down or something goes wrong with the grill. You cannot do without ingenuity and improvisation in this business.

Do you also provide some animation?

Most of the picnics, where possible, we arrange for beach volleyball and football. We have already organized paintball or rafting for the more adrenaline-hungry guests. If the picnic is for a child's birthday, Žare the clown comes, for example. Live music should not be missing at wedding picnics.

A picnic is basically čevapčiči, hot dogs, pleskavice and raznjiči. Does the cuisine at picnics change? What are your customers' wishes most often?

Most of the time, the cuisine remains a classic southern style. But I can't say it's not moving anywhere. We have already made a picnic with fish, goulash, mushroom soup, dishes from the oven, and the reader. Baked breasts are more and more popular at picnics, I also like to surprise with my specialty, a patty filled with cheese and ham. We even had a slow food picnic. First we baked all kinds of roasted vegetables, then grilled steak, fish, seafood risotto, čevapčiče, grilled shrimp...

There is sure to be a vegetarian at the picnics. How do you take care of him?

We jokingly show him the grass (laughs). I have to admit that we often forget about vegetarians a little bit, because the motto of the picnic remains čevapčiči and beer. However, it is usually not a problem, because zucchini, eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, bok choy salad are almost always served as a side dish.

Have you ever experienced a picnic accident when it rained or you were surprised by a storm?

For five beautiful picnics comes one ugly one. This means that it is raining, that we are working under tents, that we are cold and wet. For such cases, we have an "instant" tent in the van, under which we move most things. However, a rainy picnic has no charm, no real atmosphere. Rain is the worst thing that can happen in this business.

Which picnic areas would you single out as your favorite?

My favorite "picnic places" are under Šmarna gora, and we organize them here the most. These are locations along the Sava, where everything is within reach and there are well-kept volleyball and soccer fields.

How about picnics abroad? Are they introducing big changes and innovations there, or do barbecue, beer and football remain the indispensable three components of a picnic?

Picnics are very popular in America and Australia. No picnic in America is complete without a hamburger and beer. In Australia, the so-called bring yourself picnics are interesting, where the organizer only provides space and a barbecue, and each invitee brings his own food and drink.

Considering they are part of your profession, how often do you have family picnics? Because of work, there is no time for home picnics, or is it possible that this is why they are even more frequent than usual?

I admit, we have had three picnics with friends and neighbors recently. Picnics are a tradition at our house and we take advantage of almost every nice weather for this. You really don't need much for a good picnic party: a little willpower, an hour of time and a few friends...

Even at home picnics, do you fuss over the food or do you prefer to let yourself be spoiled and delegate your work to someone else?

Even at family picnics, I'm the main cook, because that's what I enjoy the most. On the other hand, I am a perfectionist and it really bothers me if the meat is not cooked as it should be. That's why I remain a grill master at home as well.

Do you miss barbecue in the winter when it's not picnic season? Where do you prefer to go for čevapčiče or a good pleskavica?

Although there is no season in winter, even then we organize a picnic. This year we had one in a cabin in the snow, and the other on a ski resort in Austria. Otherwise, I am enthusiastic about the čevapcici at the čevapcicarnica Deset v pol in Štepanjec or Pri Zoki in the WTC. For other delicacies, I like to go to Gostilna Košir, Maček or Stari Grad in Smlednik.

Finally, any other cooking secrets, for example baking čevapčičs?

Čevapčići should never be overcooked. When grilling, we should not act according to time, but according to taste and experience. And thirdly, no modern oven can replace a traditional charcoal grill. Three secrets to a perfect picnic.

Info Box

Ales Čižman

"I'm a perfectionist. Čevapčič has to be baked just right."

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