This year, adding up all points of the Good Food Academy from more than 100 members has resulted in the evaluation of Gastronomika, a culinary loft of Liutauras Čeprackas, a well-known chef in Lithuania, with the highest number of points according to all criteria.
This is a unique restaurant in the context of Lithuania, which is in operation for a very limited time in comparison with others, however, in the context of Vilnius it is a top-level “fine dining” place with a creative ambition and attitude towards the gastronomic culture.
Liutauras Čeprackas graduated from a prestigious culinary school Le Cordon Bleu with honours. He had a culinary vocation from childhood, however, because of his parents he tried to choose music first and even entered the Academy of Music and Theatre of Lithuania. Later on, he graduated from management studies at the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, and only having left to live on Margarita Island belonging to Venezuela he understood once again that his utmost desire was to cook, and in this way he joined the said school Le Cordon Bleu in Mexico City.
After his studies, he left for Spain where he gained experience on the Basque territory: at a three-Michelin-stars restaurant of Martíno Berasatequi and at one-star Kokotxa restaurant in San Sebastian. While there, he mustered up his courage to open his own restaurant. Thus Liutauras returned to Lithuania with this specific goal in mind. He opened Gastronomika, and soon he also opened another restaurant – meat house Meat.
Even though L. Čeprackas is often described as an arrogant and emotional chef, in the kitchen he works in a calm manner. In his opinion, it is in the atmosphere like this that the most delicious dishes are born. Besides, there is no point in losing one’s temper when you love your job and enjoy its every stage.
Gastronomika is the first place in Lithuania which meets all “fine dining” standards. On Thursdays and Fridays (except for summer), during tasting dinners, visitors here taste exceptional dishes created by chef Liutauras Čeprackas.
During a tasting dinner, the team of Liutauras serves 9 dishes on average. Each tasting menu is a unique creation of Liutauras Čeprackas, as an author, and it changes every few months. Last year, 4 menus were introduced, and their price fluctuates between EUR 65-75. Alongside the dishes, visitors are invited to enjoy assorted wine or choose the wine they like.
Since the spring of last year, each tasting menu here has its theme which inspires the chef but does not fully limit him. Liutauras does not like it when the same taste or similar ingredients travel through several dishes. Each dish on Liutauras’ tasting menu must have its own separate story.
The recent menus, which were introduced in Gastronomika, included a breeze of the Mediterranean Sea, tastes of San Sebastian and the Basque cuisine and a festive offer on the French theme. The last menu before the summer holiday was inspired by creations of the chefs which had been granted Michelin stars. As if playing, Liutauras chose his favourite “Michelin” chefs and presented their culinary “hits”, matched together according to Liutauras’ understanding, to his visitors.
After such different dinners, the biggest appreciation for the chef is a frequent question from the visitors: “When will a new tasting menu be introduced?” Regular visitors as well as new ones come here because of new experiences, they forget their prejudices and allow the chef to do his job, i.e. to tell a gastronomic story of that particular evening with every dish.
Such tasting dinners encourage people to forget what they like and what they do not eat. If the chef provided a possibility to choose, a visitor would not experience, to the full, the emotion conveyed by one or another menu of Gastronomika. Quite often, here people are encouraged to leave their prejudices and pursue new experiences. Thus Liutauras, creating the menu of this restaurant, every time sells not the food but the emotion, and it is obvious that this year a place like this became the brightest gastronomic “hit” in the entire Lithuania.
At the restaurant, tasting dinners are served twice a week and with booking in advance – this makes it possible to keep exceptional quality. This is an answer of Liutauras to sceptics – a restaurant is not a place which is open as long as possible all the year round, but a place which serves food of excellent quality also ensuring impeccable service and a distinctive environment. As for the latter features, Liutauras is confident about that and if there are enough people in Lithuania who appreciate such tasting menus, the price whereof is indeed quite high, he will gladly reconsider the opening hours, but so far, to ensure quality, he is satisfied with two full evenings a week during three seasons of the year. However, even now Liutauras promises special news in the life of Gastronomika, the news which will become known to everybody as the end of the coming season approaches, i.e. a year from now.
This unique place seeks to reveal the connection between food and culture. The restaurant is located in the Naujamiestis quarter of Vilnius, in a web of industrial courtyards, where every Thursday and Friday (except for the summer) visitors are invited to book tables for tasting dinners.
Here, an exceptional environment has also been created, and it encourages people to find out culinary secrets and learn to perform basic and subtle steps of a cooking process in a quality manner. In this culinary studio, chef Liutauras Čeprackas himself runs various culinary course programmes for amateurs and professionals. Thus Gastronomika is even more than a restaurant.
Gastronomika has been established in the premises of a former plant of radio parts. And if you want to find this place, you will have to wander around for a while, because there is no sign with its name outside. This makes it possible to avoid unnecessary casual visitors.