Being a judge in a gastronomic event is a very difficult and exhausting task. But the most beautiful experience is when you meet and taste national dishes of different countries. You also have the opportunity to congratulate them for their success.

 Born? Belgrade, Serbia in 1981.

Education?  I’m a graduate in culinary technical and restaurant management and got my license for teaching at Academy of Technology in Tourism in Moscow. I keep up my training with hotel management, HACCP systems, contemporary trends in gastronomy.

Best kitchens worked? I’ve seen a lot of different kitchens and I have been employed in more than 15. My training ground was; Intercontinental, Slavija Lux in Yugoslavia. I’ve worked in more than 10 restaurants, and certainly the best cuisine. I have been here at Zabar Restaurant in Belgrade for the past six years. This kitchen is where I have made my biggest and most beautiful edible art.

Favourite cheap eat? Foods eaten with a spoon, beans with smoked meat, cabbage with lamb, paprikash or goulash.

What keeps you going? My wonderful, sensible wife, my family and my desire for business success.

Advice to future young chefs? Young cooks should be valuable, they should always learn, watch how others are doing, make a parallel between what they want and what they certainly will not work in the future, not to be conceited, they should accept advice, to observe colleagues and to be sure at any time in their own kitchen keep the situation under control. They must be dignified representatives of our profession and always need to know, that in the first place responsible for the health of each guest.

Favourite kitchen tool? Mortar and pestle.

Most controversial menu item? Liver of catfish.

Favourite thing about Belgrade? Beautiful buildings like the famous temple of Saint Sava. In terms of socialisation, the most striking is the night life on the shores of two beautiful rivers, the Danube and Sava Rivers, where there are many different restaurants, night clubs and discotheques that are open every day.

Most useful cookbook? Pelaprat, from author Henri – Paul Pelaprat, published in 1935.

Early influences? Different flavours of food, which remind me of the period of childhood that I spent in the countryside, the simple, fresh, mild, organic, natural flavors, with dishes prepared on the wood stove.

On classic vs. modern cuisine? The best way for anyone who plans to be seriously engaged in gastronomy is to initially make a good foundation for his expertise on the basis of classical cuisine, like French cuisine, which is my favorite, and then based on their knowledge to take their preferred direction. It is much easier to reshape a sound basis in fusion cuisine; a modern or freestyle cuisine, because it provides a safe return, when the trends change again.

Career you would have pursued if you hadn't become a chef? A priest and later a military pilot. But when I discovered myself, I realised that I had talent for creative work close to art and because of that, I am a chef. I think I could also be very successful in marketing management.

How can we keep attracting chefs into the food world? We have to prove to them that in our business, knowledge and professional work, appreciate and reward well, we need to help them and motivate them. And all of our students need to show to look forward to their success and that between us there are no professional secrets.

Career turning point? When I became a head chef in a restaurant Zabar, then became active in the work of Serbian Chefs Association, and now as I’m president of Serbian Chefs Association. These are my most important milestones.

Ingredient obsessions? I am fully obsessed with the use of fresh ingredients

Have you worked in Australia – describe it? Unfortunately not, I have not ever worked in Australia, but would love to come to Perth or Sydney.

On working as a judging chef? It gives me an additional challenge when I desire to gain new experiences and to learn more. In my opinion, we are there to help young chefs to go the right way to gastronomy, especially if we consider that the competitions are organised with the aim of exchanging experiences between cooks from different parts of the world and a culinary competition as a practical forum. But, the most important is that in any event, the competitor receives an explanation from the judges for their food, because if you made a mistake, you must know that it would not be made again. Although judging is no longer my primary interest, since I’m now President of Serbian Chefs Association and vice president of Culinary Federation of Serbia.  I am also one of the founders and organisers of The Balkan Culinary Cup in Belgrade.

Supplier tip? Require only the highest quality, and then negotiate price.