Meet a Prague local

Five Faves: Prague tips by locals - Marcela Vuong

Five Faves: Prague tips by locals - Marcela Vuong

If you want to see the Sapa market, you want to see it with Marcela - project manager by day, Vietnamese food tour guide by… ehhhh… day, too (but mostly on weekends). Warm, friendly and passionate about food, she is the perfect companion to what at the beginning might seem like an impenetrable maze of warehouses and hole-in-a-wall pho places. (Did we mention she’s beautiful, too?) Heck, she gave us her own tips when we wrote about the market, and they have never failed us on our own visits.

Born in Vietnam yet raised in the Bohemian town of Chomutov (“No-one comes from there,” she claims incorrectly, not knowing that Zuzi was in fact raised there, too.), she has a unique insight into both Vietnamese and Czech food and culture, and isn’t afraid to share it. What started as cooking Vietnamese dishes for her friends (and she has many, often recruited from young fashion and design circles) eventually snowballed into one of the most popular tours to Sapa. She also seems to be travelling all the time, which we often observe on social media with thinly disguised envy. So yes, we like her, and we think you’d like her too. Here’s her five faves for Prague and social media.


It's a boy! (Oh, and we're alive, too.)

It's a boy! (Oh, and we're alive, too.)

This post is really one long apology. 

You see, if you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you may have noticed that the frequency of our blog posts has decreased in the past years. Well, „decreased“ is a nice way of putting it. We hardly posted anything this year. We’re sorry. We did not die, or split up, or go on a hunger strike. But there’s a reason for the silence, and a change is coming.


Zuzi's Five Favourites in Prague

Zuzi's Five Favourites in Prague

We're finishing our "Prague Five Faves" series where we are introducing the people behind Taste of Prague. And we saved the best for last: the founder, the enforcer, the visionary: Zuzi.

"Capo di tutti capi.” "Da boss.” “The interrogator.” These are only a few things people say about Zuzi. When she’s not in the room. The truth is that Zuzi runs a very tight ship and likes to be in control of things. Because she cares. She’s not that type of person with a “whatever” attitude. Only the best will do, especially when it comes to the guests of the Taste of Prague tours. And she’s a leader with a strong - and usually the right - opinion. And she’s not afraid to voice it. You know what Zuzi thinks. As Karolina put it during one of our Taste of Prague outings: “Zuzi, you’re tough, but I have never, ever, ever thought you were a b*tch.” Wow, thank you for the compliment! (We were all tipsy.)

Zuzi is also a loving foodie with a discerning palate. Heck, she even quit her good lawyer's position in big law to pursue her passion for food. She’s known for one thing: she will not finish a dish or a cup of coffee she does not like. (Unlike Jan, who can gobble things that are less then perfect because, you know, food.) Which can mean long dry coffee spells during vacations. Or the relative lack of fruits in the winter because, hey, they "don’t taste the way they should”. Yes, Zuzi demands perfection not only from people but also from fruit.

But Zuzi also has one of the biggest hearts you will ever see, and if you’re a friend - or a guest - she will do whatever it takes to help you or make sure you’re happy, and she is genuinely happy for your success. She is the girl behind our “will not write about bad dining experiences” policy because she understands perfection takes time and effort. And that's what makes Zuzi so great: she is the perfect combination of demanding - which is great for what we do - and loving, which is great for everything.


Martin's Five Favourites in Prague

Martin's Five Favourites in Prague

Here's the penultimate edition of “Prague Five Faves”, where we introduce the people behind Taste of Prague. Before we finish off next week with Zuzi, we still have to introduce Martin. 

You know, Czech has a formal and an informal “you” (think “” and “usted” in Spanish). And just like Jaromir Jagr, the Czech ice-hockey legend and Jan’s future husband (if his dream/nightmare becomes a reality), Martin hasn’t used the formal “you” in years. Yup, you had Martin at “hello”. You’re friends now. 

He also has a very interesting background (and we don’t meant that physically): How on earth does a psychotherapist with an Austrian passport born in the Czech Republic become a butcher in Prague? Is it because stabbing dead flesh with a knife gives you more job satisfaction than dealing with problems of people who are alive? Well, that’s Jan’s theory. The fact is we hit it off the instant he appeared behind the counter of the Nase maso butcher shop, and we’ve been hitting it off ever since. He’s a big guy with an even bigger heart who’s main problem is that he doesn’t call Zuzi after the tour to tell her how it went soon enough because he just wants to make sure you don’t get lost on your way to the hotel so he just takes you there. Or for a beer.

And he loves food. Having travelled through most of the world (under conditions we sometimes find hard to believe - do commercial aircrafts really have a spare seat in the back?) and eaten just about anything, Martin knows good food and spends most of his free time trying to recreate the food memories he has gathered over the years. Want to meet him on Sunday? Check out the Vietnamese Sapa market, or the new Mexican joint that has just opened. Do you want to meet him at night? Just visit a popular pub or club. Because he just loves company, and the company loves him back. 


Karolina's Five Favorites in Prague

Karolina's Five Favorites in Prague

We continue with the 2nd edition of our “Prague Five Faves”, where we introduce the people behind Taste of Prague and where we spill the beans on what we actually like in Prague. Next up: Karolina.

When we told Michal, the sommelier at Cafe Savoy, that Karolina would we working with us, he had to have a seat. He knew her too well, having roamed the city with her, hopping from bar to bar. He said she was perfect for us. And he was right. Yes, Karolina likes to party and we are yet to meet a person who wouldn’t want to have a drink with her, having known her for at least ten minutes. Yet she is organised and reliable. More than we are. We guess that’s what being a mom of a super cute toddler does to you.

What Jan admires about Karolina is her system of “cheat days”. While Jan just goes on a eating rampage with the will power of a three-year-old in an empty candy story without adult supervision, Karolina stays calm, breaths in, breaths out and let’s the opportunity go, instead waiting for one of her cheat days when the limits are off. Eating out with her is fun: just like Zuzi, preparation seems to be a big part of Karolina’s eating out experience. She just has a plan when she walks into a restaurant and sticks to it. And we like a woman with a plan.

Karolina’s also an unlimited source of incredibly funny stories and an open book who just loves people. Need a recharge? Just give Karolina some enthusiasm and affection, and you’ll get it back tenfold. And she’s our resident dim sum dumpling expert. A lover of Asian cuisine, she knows where to go and what to get. Just ask her. Trust us.


Jan's Five Favourites in Prague

Jan's Five Favourites in Prague

If you follow us on social media, you may have notice a big change in the Taste of Prague world: we have grown. And it’s time to introduce ourselves, which is exactly what we’ll do in a series of our “Prague Five Faves”, where the people of Taste of Prague spill the beans on what they like. 

We’re kicking off with Jan. He likes to call himself Taste of Prague’s “Supreme Leader”. Until Zuzi enters the room. Anyway, nerdy and mostly lovable - and “too nice” according to Karolina (Zuzi shakes her head in disapproval), Jan is a people person. Zuzi sometimes complains that when she walks off to the restroom and comes back, she can hear Jan’s voice, as he’s chatting to the other people in the restaurant. And it’s totally true. He just can’t help it.

Jan has a discerning palate and appreciates great food, yet shows no detectable ownership of will-power whatsoever when it comes to various types of junk foods. Nutella, French fries, burgers and pizza, you name it, he’ll eat it. the faster the better. Apart from food, he is a linguist and translator (“That’s Doctor Jan to you!” he exclaims whenever he’s fighting with Zuzi over anything and loses) and his biggest life achievements are the facts that he was an extra in Barbara Streisand’s Yentl (true story) and went to high school with Beyonce (true story too).


Prague Food Tips and Recommendations by Prague locals. Ep II: Ondra Hurtik

Prague Food Tips and Recommendations by Prague locals. Ep II: Ondra Hurtik

If you like coffee in Prague - and you should, it’s awesome - then Ondra Hurtik needs no introduction. The reigning Czech barista champion and the runner up of the 2015 Coffee in Good Spirits competition, Ondra has been a prominent figure on the Prague coffee scene for years. And as one of the faces of the ubiquitous Doubleshot roasters, he can be mostly seen behind the espresso machine of Kavarna Misto or Muj salek kavy, unless he’s training in Doubleshot’s barista training centre in the Karlin district.

What are his favorite places in Prague? Where does he like to go and - most importantly - what is his favorite cafe in Prague? Our summer intern Nicole has interviewed him a while back, as he was training for the World Barista Championships in Dublin.


Prague Food Tips and Recommendations by Prague locals. Ep I: Julka a.k.a. Maskrtnica

Prague Food Tips and Recommendations by Prague locals. Ep I: Julka a.k.a. Maskrtnica

If you have ever had any good food in Prague, the odds are you may have tasted some of the creations by Julka, otherwise known as Maskrtnica in the blogosphere. Julka has baked the first breads for the open-faced sandwiches in Sisters, and is the woman behind the Prague food phenomenon that are the vanilla custard donuts in Maso a kobliha. She’s also supplying bread to, and consulting breads with, a variety of great restaurants and bistros in Prague, and is one of the forces behind the Pecem Pecen project and the Sourdough Map, which have singlehandedly brought back the tradition of baking sourdough bread at home. So yup, she’s a big deal.

And it shows: we’ve tried to meet her for weeks now, after she’s come back from her 3-month tour of the US where she went through a series of short internships and visits in various artisanal bakeries, and still could not get a proper hour to sit down and have a nice chat. In between pop-ups, festivals and consulting, she’s that busy. And no wonder. If there’s one person that embodies bread in Prague, it is her (and perhaps Tomas at the Praktika bakery). So we’re happy that she at least shared her five favorite places in Prague, and her five favorite social media accounts.


Meet a Prague local: Tomas Karpisek of Ambiente

Meet a Prague local: Tomas Karpisek of Ambiente

When we talk about Tomas Karpisek, the founder of the ubiquitous Ambiente group of restaurants, on our Prague food tours, we often describe him as the “Steve Jobs of the Prague culinary scene”. Sure, it's overstatement, but it’s not that far off. If there is anyone who sets food trends in the Czech Republic, it’s Tomas. The appearance isn’t that far off, either: we’re yet to see Tomas in something that even barely resembles a business suit. He’s more of a jeans-and-a-t-shirt guy. Also, just like the late Jobs, he’s a visionary of sorts and has a bigger plan, too. And he’s undoubtedly one of the most respected personalities on the food scene, as witnessed by our interview with Hana Michopulu, the owner of the popular Sisters bistro.

What does not stick in the Jobs analogy is the demeanor. Despite his achievements, Tomas is one of the humblest and most approachable people we know. He also clearly thinks a lot about his job, and it is hard to catch him off-guard with anything food-related. But interviewing him is fascinating: he’s very open and his twenty-plus years in the business mean he has stories to tell. 

Interviewing Tomas now is more interesting than ever: the Ambiente group is now on the cusp of a generational shift marked by the openings of the Eska restaurant (this interview was held two weeks before it opened last week) and the Bokovka wine bar, both co-created and run by a young generation of chefs and managers, a trend started by the Nase Maso butcher shop over a year ago. 

We met over coffee to discuss a few things. We planned for an hour. We ended up rushing the last questions after nearly two. We talked about the past, the present, and the future of Ambiente and Tomas, too. This is what he told us. 


Meet a Prague Local: Paul Day of Sansho and Maso a kobliha

Meet a Prague Local: Paul Day of Sansho and Maso a kobliha

It is really hard not to like Paul Day, the chef and owner at Sansho and Maso a kobliha, and the master butcher at The Real Meat Society butcher shop. What is actually really harder is to interview him in his restaurant: everyone who walks in is a friend or a fellow chef or a supplier or a regular. He may have stood up five times to greet guests and friends in the short time we interviewed him. His humor is dry and brisk and his laughter contagious. He’s the guy you would want to have a beer with.

He’s also the guy you would want to serve you meet: originally a butcher hailing from England, he has promoted whole animal butchery of organic and traceable meat from farms that let the animals live outside here in the Czech Republic. He’s also the man who has nearly single-handedly, with his partner Michaela, put the Prestik pig, an old breed of Czech fatty pigs, firmly back on the foodie map. He’s been serving fantastic breakfast sausages and buns at the farmers’ market from his white Land Rover Defender. And for us, he’s always been a great chef, steering Sansho and Maso a kobliha, two restaurants that really can stand up to the best establishments in the bigger cities to the west of the Czech border. We stopped by to interview him at Maso a kobliha after his lunch service.