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.
Want my FREE recipe ebook?
Sign up for my weekly emails and I’ll send you my 11 MOST POPULAR, MOUTHWATERING CZECH RECIPES TO STUFF YOUR FACE WITH!