The Slovenia Times

Open Kitchen will be BIGGER


The Open Kitchen market, where Slovenian restaurants prepare and sell their food, started in 2013 next to the market in Ljubljana and was an immediate hit with locals and tourists. The open-air restaurant offers all types of Slovenian cuisine and some international cuisines. This year, the organisers of the Open Kitchen also organised the Beer and Burger Festival in Ljubljana. In autumn, a new book featuring a collection of recipes from the food market was released. There is currently a team of eight people behind the Open Kitchen, which will open again in March 2015 and be there every Friday until the end of October. It is the brainchild of Lior Kochavy. Kochavy is originally from Israel where he was the manager of one of the biggest beach resorts in the country. After he met his Slovenian wife, he moved to Slovenia and discovered Slovenian cuisine. Kochavy: "After I came to Slovenia I discovered such a variety of food, it surprised me. There are so many different cuisines and the people are proud of the local cuisine. Gastronomy in Slovenia is really developed and visitors should be able to experience it in a different way."

Q The Open Kitchen was something Slovenia hadn't seen before. How did you come up with the idea?

A "Well, it all started with my wife being abroad. I'm really not a talented cook so when she wasn't there I realised I had to go out and get food. It reminded me of home, in Tel Aviv, where we have a food market on Friday's where you get your food for the weekend. I started to think why not start something like that in Ljubljana?"

Q What was the idea?

A "I wanted the best food providers in a place where you could hang out and socialise. I worked the idea out with my wife but quickly we learned that two people were not enough."

Q Where did you get people?

A "The team is a collection of people we know. We just invited them to join."

Q What obstacles did you have to overcome?

A "Whenever you introduce something new it comes with obstacles. You have to make people see what you see. Basically, you have to convince people of the success. Open Kitchen is very different from other food markets. We had to connect all the dots. Convince restaurants. In the beginning that was one of the obstacles. The city and market operator JP LPT saw the potential for a successful project. I tried to create a win-win situation for all; an event for the city, extra earnings and promotion for the restaurants. And visitors can choose their favourite dish, get an endless variety of food and have a great place to hang out."

Q What did you think of the first year?

A "We started badly. The first two Friday's we had to cancel because of rain. When it rains we don't open. So we actually started in June. The first reactions were immediately positive. Every Friday we saw an increasing number of visitors. At the end of the year we got the Jakob award. That was an important confirmation that we were going in the right direction."

Q Did the experiences of the first year lead to changes?

A "We are adapting all the time. The number of visitors rose so our offer had to rise. We want to enrich the visitor experience so we are constantly working on new seating and dining experiences. Next season there will probably be new things too. I can't say anything about that as yet because we are still finalising some things. Later I can say more but some things we will keep as a surprise."

Q Did you expect to be this successful?

A "Actually yes. I didn't have a single doubt that this would be accepted by the visitors and the city. If you do something like this, you do it from the heart and you don't cut corners. If we would just have made this a market with food it wouldn't have been this big."

Q Will you expand further next year?

A "That's a normal evolution. The Open Kitchen will be bigger but I can't yet say by how much. The preparation is intensive and we only have three months. We had a maximum of 40 to 45 stands and there is a long waiting list with restaurants that want to participate."

Q Can we expect any new projects from you?

A "This year we had the Beer and Burger Festival. We will definitely keep doing that. We also have just had our new book coming out. There are no other plans for the winter, but who knows what the future will bring."


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