Davor Zidaric, product developer, Lantmännen Unibake Sweden
Davor has made food for some of the biggest company restaurants in Sweden, not to mention for the world championships in athletics and other major events. At Lantmännen Unibake, he revels in inventing new recipes for fast food chains. “It’s not just the bread. It’s the whole thing,” he says.
Back in the 90s, Davor was one of the drivers behind a new annual tournament for business chefs. He even won a few of the prizes himself. Then he was invited to work with new product development at Lantmännen Unibake.
“When they first asked me, I said I had been in restaurants all my working life. I had no experience of the bakery industry,” says Davor.
“But, after working with my predecessor for seven months before he retired, I found I really enjoyed developing recipes for new kinds of burgers and other fast food products. It’s not just the bread. It’s the whole thing.”
When did you know that your career would be in food?
“I was around 5-6 years old when a local newspaper took a picture of me wearing a chef’s hat while serving my kindergarten friends. I don’t remember what I served them. But I have been cooking and baking since that age.”
What’s the best part about being a development chef in the bakery industry?
“The best part is to come and meet the customers and see the new products come to life. I was just in Helsinki where I found one of my first products – the Royal Durum hotdog bun – in lots of restaurants. I really like that.”
What’s the best product you ever developed
“Apart from the Royal Durum range, it’s the Brooklyn burger bun. It’s made with sour dough and less sugar and stays really soft for up to eight days. We’ve developed lots of trendy recipes for it.”
When you’re looking for inspiration, which ingredient inspires you most?
“I’m really inspired by strong cheese like manchego or parmesan. In Sweden, we have a local cheese that is aged for 12 months and has a strong umami taste. I also love the richness and smoothness of olive oil. It can really lift a lot of ingredients to a new level.
“I grew up with a Mediterranean influence from my Italian father and a Swedish influence from my mother. They are two good countries for simple food made with good ingredients.”
Who does the cooking when you get home from work?
“Usually me. I open the fridge and see what we can do. We don’t spend many hours in the kitchen during the week, but at weekends I might spend several hours cooking if we have friends visiting us.
“I really like to barbecue. I have lots of friends who hunt, so I can easily get some nice meat – an moose steak perhaps.”
You don’t have to use many ingredients to make the perfect dish. It’s best to keep it simple.