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Slovenia has excellent cuisine and gastronomy, which has been confirmed by numerous awards and accolades, with European Region of Gastronomy 2021 being the latest and most important to date. In June 2020 the most prestigious gastronomic guide Michelin recognized the quality of Slovenian gastronomy and included Slovenia among its new destinations. As the future European gastronomy hotspot Slovenia is putting more effort in emphasizing that top Slovenian culinary creators use local ingredients for their culinary masterpieces.

Author:  The Adriatic Journal

The Slovenian territory is largely shaped by rural areas and forests. Its countryside represents 80% of the country’s total surface. A large part of these areas represents a tremendous potential for sustainable use for agriculture and tourism, as well as a great potential for the development of products that link the two industries. In 2017 and 2018, key strategic foundations for the further development of tourism were outlined with the adoption of the Strategy for the Sustainable Growth of Slovenian Tourism 2017-2021, which includes rural tourism as the primary tourism product. The Strategy also implemented the recently presented Action Plan for the Development and Marketing of Gastronomic Tourism in 2019-2023 and successfully completed Slovenia’s bid for the European Region of Gastronomy in 2021.

Food production after 2021

The Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food has prepared a strategic document resolution, Our Food, Rural and Natural Resources after 2021. Central to the resolution is food. The society perceives agriculture primarily through the concept of safe and quality food. Having a highly preserved natural environment, Slovenia has a key advantage to enable high quality and safe food production as well as an opportunity to increase its added value.

Lack of promotion

Photo: Matevž Kostanjšek

Though Slovenian agriculture and tourism offer tremendous potential for the development of unique tourist stories through creative, traditional or contemporary cuisine and gastronomy, thus far the two sectors haven’t been sufficiently interconnected. The basic ingredients for food and prepared dishes are yet to find enough convergence points with Slovenian gastronomy. 

There is a lack of promotion for ingredients in Slovenian gastronomic stories. This also applies to beverages like wine and beer. Slovenian quality is reaching the European and perhaps the world peak, yet this is not reflected in the promotion of Slovenia’s achievements. This is why the 2021 strategy focuses on linking agriculture, gastronomy and tourism. 

Excellent conditions

With the adopted strategic focus, Slovenia presents itself as a country which, in a small but specific area of green, unspoiled and surface specific land, offers excellent conditions for the production and preparation of authentic food flavours. As such, Slovenia has what it needs to present itself as a green destination. 

Gastronomic tourism activities with sustainable management have many positive outcomes, including the creation of new jobs in rural areas

Through its developed gastronomic products it can offer guests a combination of flavors from untouched nature, whose added value is based on sustainable production and processing, included in creative culinary and gastronomic art and traditions. Through the various systematic measures created and promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, farms have the opportunity to develop various complementary activities, either by producing higher value-added products or by and measures aiming to incentivize this, over 450 tourist farms now offer accommodation and excursions are possible to almost 500 farms, with around 5,800 beds and 36,000 seats.

Beneficial outcomes

Gastronomic tourism activities with sustainable management have many positive outcomes, including the creation of new jobs in rural areas. In the long term, these activities also affect the generational re-newal, adequate settlement and entrepreneurial opportunities for Slovenian rural areas, where the agricultural landscape is intertwined with forests and well-preserved ecosystems. Based on the safe and quality ingredients from Slovenian farms and the specific and cultivated landscape of Slovenian countryside, gastronomic tourism also offers immense potential for creating unique tourist stories and products characterized by rich flavors in traditional and modern culinary creations Slovenia’s excellent cuisine and gastronomy has been confirmed by numerous awards and accolades. 

“Locally sourced food is one of our key stories as it represents one of the pillars of the offering and is also linked to Kneipp’s philosophy. Honey, marmalade, milk, cheese, bread, everything, and more, we offer our guests, prepared according to traditional recipes, produced in the immediate surroundings, fresh and delicious."

Predrag Canjko, general manager at Terme Snovik, the highest-lying spa in the heart of Slovenia

However, as the future European gastronomy hotspot, Slovenia needs to put more effort in emphasizing that top Slovenian culinary creators use local ingredients for their culinary masterpieces. With that in mind, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food started to actively connect producers and processors of Slovenian food with gastronomy (hotels, restaurants, inns, catering), as only intensive cooperation can enable progress and promote the use of locally produced and processed foods. To this end, a ministerial advisory body was established (a crosssectoral working group – European Region of Gastronomy 2021), whose members include Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry of Slovenia; Chamber of Agricultural and Food Enterprises; Tourism and Hospitality Chamber of Slovenia; Chamber of Craft and Small Business of Slovenia (tourist-hospi tality section); Tourist Farms Association of Slovenia; Cooperative Union of Slovenia; Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences (University of Maribor); Faculty of Tourism Studies – Turistica (University of Primorska); Ministry of Economic Development and Technology; and National Education Institute Slovenia. 

"Local food is a global trend, not only in tourism. At Terme Snovik, we are proud to have been a cocreator of this trend since 2001, and we are also proud to be a part of the European Region of Gastronomy 2021.”

- PRedraG Canjko

Uroš Štefelin (Vila Podvin), one of Slovenia’s best chefs, who, with modern techniques and creativity, transforms traditional dishes into culinary delights of Slovene Nouvelle Cuisine

"Tourists are looking for authentic, local experience, and are interested in tradition. Involving growers and local ingredients in the restaurant’s menus strengthens the community, deepens understanding of our roots, and shows that we care about the future. Only by connecting we will preserve our identities and have something to share with our visitors. Through connection we learn new stories and keep them for the future.”

 The task of the working group is to provide opinions for major decisions regarding the integration of Slovenian foods in the offer by Slovenian caterers, hoteliers and other catering establishments, especially in regards to: increasing the share of the use of quality Slovenian food to raise the profile and quality of local cuisine to the gastronomic level, identifying current obstacles and problems with local foods of Slovenian origin in the hotels, restaurants and cafés supply chain (HORECA) and catering establishments segments, and adopting measures to address and improve them, coordination of the promotional activities between the members and the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology in the Slovenia – European Region of Gastronomy and 2021 project for the period 2019-2021.

Aleksandra Pivec, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food of the Republic of Slovenia

“Slovenia has established a few food-related regional and local brands, which have achieved a certain level of success, but further work is necessary in terms of promotion (both within Slovenia and internationally), drawing special attention to organic farming. In addition to foodstuffs and dishes, this applies especially to alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks."

These involve mainly (boutique) wines, which are already garnering deserved international success, although the promotional investments are rather modest. The European Region of Gastronomy award will undoubtedly enhance the national promotion of cuisine and gastronomy, and create synergy with local environments and cultures.”

Adriatic Journal

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