Jan Kaplan is a big name in Czech gastronomy
Jan Kaplan is a big name on Czech gastronomy scene with unusal story. He would never think of himself as a chef. His direction was completely different.
Jan supposed to be an Athropologist. During his studes took a chance to travel and decied to go to United States where he fell in love with the cooking. His next step led to London where cooked in several great restaurants (the Connaught (1 michelin star – Gordon Ramsay, Harvey Nichols 5th Floor restaurant). His last place was Pavillon Restaurant, which he put on the map of Czech gastronomy with chef’s perfectly balanced dishes.
How did you get to the cooking? What was the main reason of changing your field completely?
I always liked cooking, I just eat too much! When I was teenager – spaghetti, schnitzel or a microwaved sausage was not a problem. Anthropolgy is very interesting, but to make a living out of it, it’s hard. I was into cooking that much that I was able to secure myslef financially pretty well.
You have the comparison between USA and England, what’s the main difference of working in the kitchen between those two?
Both countries are very precise in therms of the trainig the staff. The main difference was in US a worked in a Pub, so that was more about cooking semi-finished products. In London, on the other hand, it was more about ”home cooking” making everything from scratch. I spent 3 months in USA only, but 5 years in London.
In England You passed through several restaurants, which one gave You the most?
Awakening began in The Connaught hotel, but I learnt the most under the guidence of Jonas Karlsson in Harvey Nichols fifth floor. I went through every secction there and end up as the Sous Chef within 3 years.
After You return from the UK, You quickly leap out to the headchef position of restaurant Pavillon. Who was the former headchef and how was your beginnings in this place?
Leap out is a strong expression, it kind left on me, when former headchef Michal Goth decided to move out of Brno. On the other hand, he told me: ,,Jenda, if You will not take this position, this place will go to shit” So I took it. At the end this was my biggest experience and huge challange.
What was your experience from restaurant belongs to Gordon Ramsey holding? Was it that tough as TV shows?
That time it was’nt that hard like e.g. in ,,Boiling point” TV show. Ramsey was building his own empire that time so it was’nt that individual. But to be honest Angella Harnett is’nt soft at all… it was really though! But that what you expected when you decided to work in London. It was exhausting so I lasted one year and then went to Harvey Nichols.
I heard you create a food blog in your spare time. How did you come up with this idea? What’s the main focus of the blog?
That was idea of my wife Edita Zeit. She really love my home cooking so she felt like it’s quite shame that we don’t publicate our recipes. So that time we came up with Oh my chef. During the last few years we managed to published many great dishes and nowdays we even working on video recipes.
You spent last few years working as the headchef, what is you actual concern these days?
Nowdays I get ready for my next stage of my life. My current task is helping other restaurants in form of consultations. I providae the whole package includes things like menu creating, calculations, suppliers relations etc. In future
Thank you for the interview.