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Portrait Martiņš Sirmais - Restaurant 3 Pavaru in Riga / Latvia

artticle Martins
1. Tesi: Chef Martiņš , you own the restaurant 3 Pavaru (3 Chefs) in Riga, Latvia. Please tell me a little about you and what you do.
Chef Martiņš: I got my first cooking experience when I was 16, which is now 18 years ago. I grew up in the Soviet Union, and when the state came to an end, nobody really knew what to do or where to go. So, my parents sent me to a culinary school, which was an amazing place to be at that time as everything was changing. In the Soviet Union, cooking had been mainly reduced to potatoes and fish. Suddenly, many more ingredients were available, and people could taste things like foie gras and saffron – what a huge difference!
I moved for a while to London to get more experience and worked in different restaurants. When I moved back to Riga, I opened my first restaurant. Very soon after, I was offered a TV cooking show, which I did for many years. 
After that adventure, it was time for me to take a break and recharge my batteries before I opened 3 Pavaru in the former US embassy in Riga.
2. Tesi: What is special about Riga as a culinary destination and Latvian cuisine?
Chef Martiņš: When I compare Riga to London, I think that in Riga you can concentrate much more on food when you run a restaurant. The country is small, and the supply is personal. I think it is good that the Michelin Guide has not entered Latvia so far, and I hope they will stay out, as it would commercialize the restaurant business too much and ruin the authentic footprint of Riga’s best restaurants. People in the capitalistic world have forgotten how chicken, potatoes, or cucumber can really taste because they eat only industrialized food. Restaurants in London and New York are operating under an enormous commercial pressure. This is less the case in Riga where you still know the farmer who is supplying your meat or vegetables.
Unfortunately, Riga is becoming more and more of a mass tourism destination, but we have a range of very high quality restaurants, including Biblioteka No1, Valtera Pestorans, Vincents, and my own restaurant, 3 Pavaru Restorants.
In these restaurants, you can enjoy what could be called “Latvian haute cuisine.” The cuisine itself is influenced by Russian, Swedish, and German food. Riga was once part of the “Hansa” – a trading organization started 800 years ago in Hamburg and Luebeck. You still can see the influence of these foreign cuisines mixed with a very local supply. That makes Latvian cuisine special
article 3 PAVARU TAPAS
3. Tesi: What is your favorite dish?
Chef Martiņš: Dishes should always reflect the season. That is the reason why I don’t have one favorite dish. Also, Latvia is a very seasonal country. Here, winters are strong and the summers are very warm. That means you should not have just one favorite dish because the seasons are so deep that the food changes substantially with each.
For instance, some typical ingredients for autumn include hemp seeds and horseradish, while everything served with dill or dill cream is typical for spring. Also, the forest offers a lot of different ingredients throughout the seasons.
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4. Tesi: Did you find your dream job by being a chef?
Chef Martiņš: Being a chef is not just job. I would say it’s my life. I never feel that I work. I can be myself when I’m in my restaurant and when I’m together with my team. It’s not just cooking – it is also eating, smelling, sourcing, and everything else. I can’t say that I will do it forever, but at the moment, yes, it is my dream.
Thank you,
Matthias Tesi Baur
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