Latvia’s gastronomy may have had German, Swedish, Polish and Russian cultural influence, but, if we look into the national celebrations, one thing very unique from the past still remains: Latvians like to be in contact with nature and to produce and prepare food with their own hands.
Every family knows where to get fresh fish, in autumn Latvians are foraging for the first mushrooms, and after winter they often grow their own vegetables rather than buying them from a shop. Because of this cultural-gastronomic heritage and for having great restaurants and professionals, Riga and Gauja region had won the title of European Region of Gastronomy 2017 with the concept "Wild at Plate".
The award is granted by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism (IGCAT) to stimulate development, sustainability and initiatives that cross the boundaries of food, culture, tourism and economy. Chef Dzintars Kristovskis from the restaurant "Valmiermuižas Vēstniecība Rīgā" is the official Ambassador of event. He explains: "Technology and cooking is so advanced that I feel the urge to go back to the roots. The concept devised by Riga-Gauja Region is a distinct reflection of this – products and ingredients that our people have gathered, savored, featured in meals for hundreds of years – straight from our forests, meadows, streams and lakes."
Dzintars has been a part of the profession for eleven years, marking the last four as the most fruitful. During this period, he has diligently delved into what specifically the wilderness of Latvia has to offer food-wise - the creation of a pure regional cuisine. This encompasses all that grows and is edible in forests, game and local recipe beverages that can all be considered legitimate for a feast (or for inclusion on a restaurant’s menu). Here the chef is focused on pure, natural, organic fare and ingredients; maximum flavor effect with minimal combinations.