Jan Jašek and Richard Belžík are two friends and chilli fans from the city of Brno. A few years ago, they turned their chilli growing hobby into a business and started producing hot sauces, salsas and chutneys. This year, their barbecue sauce with dried tomatoes won a first prize at the prestigious World Hot Sauce Awards in Louisiana.
A real Czech pig-killing, beef belly with celery puree and black potatoes, summer fettuccine with calamari and marinated carp with horseradish-dill sauce – all of this can be savoured by visitors to the Festival of Taste food fair now on in Brno. In addition, they can enjoy a variety of goodies from cheeses and pâtés to chocolates.
Sylva Šimsová was 18 when her father, a Social Democrat politician, told her the family had to escape from Czechoslovakia. It was 1949, a year after the Communists had taken power. The young Sylva insisted that her fiancé, whom she had met through her beloved scouts only six months earlier, come with them. Remarkably, almost 70 years later she and her husband – a composer and broadcaster who goes by the name Karel Janovický – are still together.
Hynek Martinec first came to international attention when a painting of his girlfriend Zuzana earned him the British National Portrait Gallery’s BP Young Artist Award in 2007 and he has since cemented his reputation as one of the Czech Republic’s leading visual artists. Martinec, who is 37, is currently preparing for a major exhibition at the National Gallery here in Prague. Before Christmas I spoke to him at his London studio, which at the time was dominated by his wonderful painting Allegory of the Internet.
Ladislav Hornan, who is chairman of the British Czech and Slovak Association, has enjoyed a very successful career and led one of the UK’s top accountancy firms for many years. He came from a relatively privileged background in Prague, where his mother Magdalena Horňanová was a music professor and writer. Unusually, Mr. Hornan returned regularly to Czechoslovakia after emigrating in 1968. Until, that is, he spent almost a month in a Prague jail on spying charges in the mid-1980s. In a meeting room at his company’s City of London building he shared
With over a quarter of a million followers, Jiří Šiftař must be one of the most popular Czechs on Instagram. Going by the name Jeera on the photograph sharing service, he is mainly known for stunning pictures of his adopted home of London. Jiří Šiftař and I met at a restaurant in the city near his workplace at Lloyd’s bank, where he designs web interfaces for customers. I first asked him whether he had been into photography as a child.