1. In 3 seconds, what’s Very Good Cook?
It’s a food blog featuring my best recipes—some Czech, all 100% vegetarian.
2. I can boil water, but that’s about it. Can I make your recipes?
I’m loudly clapping, because you’re almost there. Boiling water gets you so many cool things, like a hot bath* or a cup of Darjeeling.
I’m a home cook, not a professional chef—so I hear what you’re saying.
Like you, I get busy or lazy. But we have to eat at some point, right?
Most of my recipes reflect that: I love shortcuts and basic cooking techniques, but I equally want flavor and an appetizing look.
I try to stick to fresh, whole, natural, seasonal, unrefined, and unprocessed ingredients. I usually get them from the nearest supermarket.
Occasionally, if I get up early enough, I buy them from the Hollywood Farmers’ Market.
*This is a joke—please don’t bring your bath to a boil.
3. I’m a strict raw vegan who loves bacon and caviar—is this site for me?
Good Lord—I’m calling PETA on you!
YES and NO.
Strictly speaking, all recipes here are lacto-ovo-vegetarian.
That means the cow keeps mooing in her pasture, but I humbly use her milk to make my grandma’s Fluffy Bohemian Pancakes.
It means the chicken liver stays inside the chicken, but her eggs go into Shakshouka (not a dirty word FYI).
If you’re a strict vegan, you’ll find many strictly vegan recipes (even raw vegan, gluten-free vegan, and paleo vegan) in the recipe index.
And these days, so many animal-based ingredients—like milk, butter or cheese—can be easily subbed with plant-based ones. I made notes on substitutions in recipes where it makes sense.
For bacon and caviar, please consult Paula Deen or Mario Batali.
4. And who are you?
My name is Michal. I help home cooks to make tasty vegetarian food using easy-to-get ingredients and stress-free steps.
I’m also a photographer, writer, recipe tester, food stylist, and my own dishwasher, all wrapped in one.
That’s what it takes to produce this site, and I equally enjoy each part (no Sophie’s Choice situation here).
I grew up in Northern Bohemia in the Czech Republic. I went to high school in Prague and then to college in Los Angeles.
I’m still based in L.A., and I love mixing up my favorite childhood Czech recipes (hey, koláče) with everyday California dishes (hello, avo toast).
5. Wait, how do you pronounce your name?
I know, it’s tricky. It’s a Czech version of Michael, without the “e.” Here’s a recording I made for you:
Practice a few times. If you can’t say it, call me Mike—or Misha, like my grandma used to.
6. So, you’re a very good cook?
Nine out of 10 people would say so, and the tenth is probably lying.
My lifetime culinary resume highlights include:
- Getting up at 2am and baking pretzels, poppy seed rolls, and plum strudel in an organic bakery in Hagen, Germany.
- Working as a prep cook in a kosher restaurant at the Ramat Rachel kibbutz in Jerusalem, Israel.
- Making kitcheri, mixed lettuces salad, and baking an apple cake for 20 yogis at my friend Vláda’s retreat in the Czech Republic.
- Catering my former boss’ baby shower for 40 of her friends in Brentwood, CA. On the menu: mushroom & spinach quiches, chopped salad, popovers, and blueberry coffee cake.
- I also volunteer as a line cook in the kitchen at Project Angel Food in Hollywood, CA. Pls consider donating even a tiny $ amount—it’s for a great cause.
7. Do you make all the recipes yourself?
Yes, I cook everything myself in my home kitchen in L.A.
I test each recipe at least twice, sometimes three times, to make sure it’s all edible and cookable.
8. And you take the photos, too?
Yep. I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, and love it, because it gives me reliably good pics. It’s a recent upgrade from the Canon EOS Rebel T3, a great camera I learned on and used for years.
My favorite lenses are the Canon Ultrasonic 27–70mm and the Canon Ultrasonic 50mm. I edit my photos in Adobe Lightroom.
9. What else should I know about you?
Ok, some totally random things about me:
- I live with a 19-year-old aquatic turtle named Masha (after a character in a Chekhov play). She’s my sous chef. Btw 19 years is very young for a turtle.
- I’m colorblind; I can’t see shades of red and green. I’m fine seeing traffic lights, though, so don’t worry.
- I’m scared to fly. I always self-medicate, in this order: Xanax, gin & tonic, red wine, Ambien. It’s a smooth, giddy ride after that.
- I looooove opera. When I test recipes, I listen to Rusalka or The Magic Flute and sing along.
- This is controversial, but I hate dark chocolate. Don’t give it to me. Milk only, please—preferably Ritter Sport with hazelnuts.
- Before all this food stuff, I had a career in high-end fashion retail. I dealt with IMUs, OTBs and GMROIs all day long, and now I utilize those skills when I buy the merch for my own shop.
- I speak Czech, German, and Russian. I can also say “I love you” in Danish and Japanese.
- I swear by Transcendental Meditation. It’s my twice-daily mind-reset refresh.
10. OK, cool. I like all this. Now what?
Awesome! Here’s what you can do:
Download my free recipe e-book below. It’s a compilation of my favorite Czech recipes that my mom and grandma (both O.G. very good cooks) used to make when I was growing up.
Buy yourself a cool coffee mug or cutting board from my shop. It’s all handmade stuff I sourced in the Czech Republic. I promise it will instantly elevate your kitchen game.
Make some recipes. It’s hard to pick my favorite, but start salivating here.
Email me and tell me what you’re cooking! I really want to know what’s up, and I pinky swear to get back to you. Here’s the contact form.
Learn how to swap ingredients
Cook and bake easily with The Ingredient Substitution Cheat Sheet. FREE .pdf download: