These chefs from around the world found a home in the Czech kitchen

We spoke to seven of Prague's top chefs about the lessons they've learned and the food they love in their adopted home country.

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas Published on 20.10.2023 15:30:00 (updated on 23.10.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

International Chefs Day on Oct. 20 celebrates chefs around the globe for their dedication to the craft. We had the chance to talk to seven Prague-based expat chefs who shared with us the important lessons they've learned in the Czech kitchen, their passion for the flavors and techniques of Czech cuisine, and their universal weakness for roasted duck à la Czechia.

Quotes have been edited for length and clarity.

Greg Haynes (AUS) Head Chef, Pru 58

Greg Haynes

How has the Prague food scene changed?

It has advanced tremendously over the past 2-3 years and the standard across restaurants and food overall has massively improved. It’s really cool and exciting to be here in Prague and see it evolve. 

What have Czechs taught you about cooking?

One thing that stands out for me about the culture here is the amount of knowledge that everyone has about the local produce and seasonal produce how big a part it plays in everyday life and how to use them. 

What are some of your favorite restaurants in Prague?

Papillo, where I had food that was incredibly well executed and delicious and definitely up there as the best meal. Výčep is consistently brilliant and a local fave and Chi Xiao Mian for my Chinese noodle fix is great. Let’s not forget Pru 58. 

NICHOLAS TROSIEN (US) Executive Sous Chef, Four Seasons Hotel Prague


What lessons have you learned in the Czech kitchen?

I've learned that food truly brings people together across all backgrounds. Here in Prague, I've also discovered the foundation of traditional culinary techniques, like fermenting and pickling, that are now trending worldwide. It's been fascinating to see these old-school methods still going strong. Prague's food scene remains unassuming yet consistently surprising.

Overall, being in the Czech Republic has reinforced my belief that food is universal in its ability to forge human connections regardless of differences.

How would you rate Prague's food scene?

The best way to describe the food scene in Prague is underrated. I feel like many other European countries get a lot of recognition for cuisine and Prague is almost forgotten. There are some incredible restaurants, restaurant tours, and chefs here in Prague creating memorial gastronomic experiences and they deserve recognition as well.

Yurij Kolesnik (UKR) Owner of La Veranda, Babiččina zahrada, and The Bistro

Grandmas Garden

What lessons have you learned in the Czech kitchen?

Coming from a seaside town where different cuisines blend together, Czech food wasn't too surprising for me. But what's captivated me most about the Czech people over the past 20 years is their appreciation for stability. They truly value it through steady work, lasting relationships, and strong partnerships. I've felt this stability strongly with my own staff during my time here.

Prague is the same as any big city in Europe. I travel a lot, I know what I'm talking about. It is absolutely underrated gastronomically.

What's a Czech meal you will never stop ordering?

Duck! The best food that always makes me happy. But without the dumplings. Duck with vegetables in butter is my love.

Marco Giampaoli (IT) Head Chef at Aromi


How has the industry evolved in Czechia?

In the past ten years, I've noticed food has become much more significant here. People have greatly expanded their knowledge of ingredients, cooking techniques, and more. Because of this increased understanding, the expectations of chefs, service, and restaurants are higher than ever. Younger chefs recognize this fact and aim to continuously raise standards, propelling our industry forward.

I expect the food scenes in towns across the country will really start receiving more attention in the near future. In recent years I've seen restaurants in other Czech cities like Brno, Olomouc, and Pilsen start to gain more recognition. In my view, their full potential remains untapped for now.

Unfortunately, Covid and other issues have caused staffing problems; it's now very tough to find qualified chefs and servers. While restaurant quality rises, a lack of skilled personnel slows our progress. The market needs more experienced workers to match consumers' higher expectations.

Diogo Fonseca (PT) Head Chef at Eska

Photo Jan Cihak Eska Diogo

What surprised you at first about Czech food?

When I first came here, I was surprised by just how sour some Czech dishes could be; I was used to sourness only in salads. Over time, I learned it comes from their technique of fermenting and pickling vegetables and fruits during summer to enjoy later in winter.

The food scene has greatly changed in the almost 7 years I've been here. When I arrived, it seemed that Italian, Vietnamese, and fast-food were the dominant choices. Now the offering has expanded tremendously with so many more options.

The best Czech meal you've ever had?

One of the first meals I had in Czech Republic was on my first visit. Pork ribs, horseradish, homemade mustard, and a Pilsner. It’s just nostalgic for me.

Mariko Amekodommo (US) Host of VIP Naplavka culinary experiences


What lessons have you learned from cooking in Czechia?

I’ve learned so much about food working and living in Prague. Actually, I had taken a 7-year break from my days as a TV celebrity chef in Los Angeles, and moving here ignited my love of food again.

I’ve learned the traditional ways of growing and preserving my own food, as well as techniques and flavors I had never encountered before. And the true definition of ‘farm to table’ and ‘nose to tail.’

Are there other expat chefs who inspire you?

The best meal I’ve eaten so far was the pop-up at Real Meat Society from Chef Paul Day. They are the best butcher in Prague; his vision and flavors were an experience I keep dreaming about.

GIOVANNI MARCO CARANDINO (IT) Pastry Chef, Four Seasons Hotel Prague

Giovanni Four seasons

What has being a chef in Czechia taught you?

The climate certainly influences the style of Czech cuisine a lot, you need to do meticulous research into the raw materials and understand what is available at certain times of the year. Local products, if used in the right period, are excellent and allow the creation of dishes that enhance every single ingredient.

What is your favorite Czech meal?

Without any doubt the duck, the way it is cooked and served, accompanied by stewed vegetables, and a nice glass of Pilsner! For me, it’s absolutely delicious.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more