It is now end of February 2017. A few days back an important meeting was held in a small pizzeria in Ljubljana the capitol city of Slovenia. Why would that meeting be of any interest to you? Well you must have read the title haven’t you? That day was a breakthrough for the four of us finally getting together and joining our paths into one great goal.
First was Mr. Dejan Turk. A classic french trained chef of a long family tradition in the business but now mainly focusing on real low&slow BBQ with a few distinctive projects under his thumb already. He was the first to use a traditional low&slow method to prepare pulled pork and pulled beef sandwiches from his little cart and let the people have some real BBQ taste. That was just the start of it. Lets just say there is no better BBQ in Slovenia you can buy than his at the moment. Next are Mr. Miki Stjepanovic and Mr. Ales Omejc. Two friends that their love of basketball took around the world where the inevitable happened. While in Austin for the NBA games they tried the real BBQ there and decided to bring a little Texas back home with nothing less than excellent Yoder smokers and founded the Yoder Smokers Slovenia. Last is me since I am the one writing. My name is Peter Hajdu. If I tell you that my first memory ever is about our family grilling lunch over fire somewhere in the 80’s it is the truth. The day was marked by a terrible storm that almost blew away the grill but the memory is there and the chicken I can still taste. It was good! I started to spread american BBQ tradition a few years back by working on BBQ community through my project Zarovnije BBQ Special which later organically evolved to business with founding the ProQ Smokers Slovenia with great help from UK finest MacsBBQ of the respected McKends family.
But why and how did we get at that table together? Well who really understand the message and spirit of BBQ will know. It is a strong media. Smell and taste of BBQ will bond the unbondable and connect all who take a minute to know it better and taste it most importantly. Old people or little children and everybody in between likes BBQ just the same. Loving it. In fact even some vegetarians can’t resist. This is rooted very deeply in our mind and soul. We are born with this liking for smoke, fire and meat combo. Call it self preservation if you want. But the real problem is people started to forget about cooking with fire and smoke long before we set on to introduce traditional BBQ to our homes and tables. Of course it is impossible to generalise but we will put our efforts to bring fire and smoke back into cooking and living where it belongs. Low&slow is so much more than just a method to make food. If you let yourself in and embrace it life actually becomes more beautiful. Low and slow. Breathe.
Slovenia is a small but culturally very rich country. Even though you can make a criss cross drive in let’s say roughly six hours it is as diverse as it can be. Regionally we have fine culinary traditions. Also wine and beer are very well present. Especially craft beer in last years reached unimaginable levels of both quality and popularity. Lots of brewers are also BBQ people at the same time. That is good news always but I don’t have enough words for this today. As many other cultures we smoke our charcuterie and we still use the smoke in traditional meat preservation recipes. We have top chefs using smoke as a spice in their creations. Slovenia was not a smokeless country not at all. Being a part of the Balkan which is extremely rich in traditional grilled food it is very common to find fine Balkan style grilled food available if you know where to go. This also encourages local homemade charcoal production more and more. There is some very fine home made charcoal available through out the country. A living artisan product originating from the iron ages. We have the smoke in our system so to speak but more problematic is the loss of knowledge and lack of any respect for ingredients which is not very encouraging. There is really no secret to it just the way of fire and smoke to follow and an awareness to gain which is sometimes more difficult as it seems. This knowledge we all try to make available for anyone who really wants to learn and now even more so through the culture of BBQ.
I was the last to join this BBQ coalition. Me and Miki go back a little. We were neighbours some years back. Had some first real burgers together on the neighbourhood grill parties but in fact never spoke of starting BBQ community back then. It was still early and even the earthshaking burger trend still had a few years to wait before it hit our country. It was just fun back then with no trends yet. But now basically we all had the same great idea.
Dejan had his influence through his business. I already started building our BBQ community through events for the people in last year and layout for what will become the Slovenian BBQ society was prepared by Miki and Aleš. Unplanned we all met at one occasion not far back in January this year when we were attending the KCBS judges class in South Tyrol. The unexpected prequel which will lead to our meeting at the pizzeria. On 13th of January 2017 Slovenia got the first six KCBS licensed judges and a table captain. Miki gave me a call some weeks later and invited me to meet them. At that moment four people that have the will to push the BBQ wheel forward in the country agreed that it is time to do it together. As I wrote earlier the one who really understands BBQ will know and understand what happened.
It is an honour given to me by my friends and colleagues that I can introduce the Slovenian BBQ Society to the world through the CountryWoodSmoke UK BBQ Magazine. You are the first to know. Slovenia is now BBQ open country. It is at least a few years of individual work we all put in merged under the same roof. We are proud and determined to make it work. We would like to thank all of the BBQ friends from around the world who helped and accepted us and please from now on pay attention for news from newly BBQ open Slovenia. It will be fun and it will start happening soon enough. Looking forward to greet as many BBQ loving people in our country as possible. There is now a place for you all to call home in Slovenia too. Welcome and good smoke to all of you from the SBBQS – Slovenian BBQ Society!