Gorazd Kocbek – Interview
Alojz and Antonija Kocbek passed on their knowledge and experience to their son Anton, who in turn passed it on to his son Gorazd. Gorazd continues the family tradition and maintains a good name and top quality pumpkin seed oil processing. The quality of the oil, which is also an officially protected Slovenian product, has been recognized around the world, which is why Kocbek’s oil is exported to various continents and various countries around the world.
The Kocbek oil mill has a long family tradition of pumpkin seed oil production, dating back to 1929. What is the secret to the success of your journey?
We keep the tradition that my grandfather started. The machines and facilities are still the same as they were years ago. All in all, it already has a touch of nostalgia today. But it is also true that technology is no different than it was a hundred years ago. Even if we were to make a new oil mill with new machines, the method of production would actually be the same. The machines and presses would only be larger, differently designed or more powerful. In the making of pumpkin seed oil, we use exclusively Slovenian raw materials, which gives the highest possible quality of oil, both in taste and in the composition of nutritional values. We strive to ensure that our products are of the highest quality and offer only the best to the end consumer, not just selected restaurants and chefs. In our range of products, which is constantly updated, you will find handmade chocolates Srast with pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil, chocolates with various Slovenian ingredients, pasta and biscuits with pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil, salami with pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil, spreads, pickled courgettes, lip balm…
You have several types of pumpkin seed oil on your shelves. How do they differentiate?
Oils, packaged under a light-colored label with the Kocbek silver logo, are made from seeds we purchased from domestic growers and meet our processing criteria. Such oils have been produced throughout history and in the process of hot-pressing, the seeds for these oils are ground in a roller mill, where there are rollers and metals. These oils were originally intended for sale on the domestic market, from shops all the way to restaurants and various stores. The oils, packaged under a dark color label with a gold logo, are made from seeds that are picked and sorted before processing. This is done with the help of a machine that removes impurities (pumpkin flesh, peels, peeled or damaged seeds – what we picked up from pumpkins when taking the seeds out of the pumpkin by hand or with a machine), and thus we get pure and undamaged seeds, which consequently give oils of the highest possible quality. In the process of hot-pressing, the seeds are ground on real stones, which gives the oil an even darker color, higher density and a slightly different taste. These oils are originally intended for sale in foreign markets, but in Slovenia you can find them only in restaurants, wine shops, selected – specialized stores.
Your oil mill is known for its unique cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil, which on top of it all is very healthy. It is known to alleviate male prostate problems…
The seeds are not processed in the cold-pressing process. The seeds are not ground, heated or roasted, but the oil is squeezed from the whole seeds with a special press, where the temperature of the oil due to the pressure and friction in the press must not exceed 40 degrees Celsius. As a result, it is slightly lighter – greenish-red in color, with a delicate smell and a taste equal to the taste of raw pumpkin seeds.
The processing efficiency is significantly lower, as such production requires at least six kilograms of pumpkin seeds per liter of cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil. It contains about 80 percent of unsaturated fatty acids, and the ratio of omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids is also favorable. In this sense, cold-pressed oils retain all vitamins and minerals and are therefore the healthiest, so to speak. Not that hot-pressed oils are harmful, far from it. Specifically, to alleviate prostate problems, it doesn’t matter whether we choose cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil or hot-pressed, as research has been done on the basis of hot-pressed pumpkin seed oil. Hot-pressed pumpkin oil or just “pumpkin seed oil” is darker, denser, has a strong smell and intense color due to the treatment of the seeds. Pumpkin seed oil is generally called green gold.
You are also very successful in penetrating foreign markets. Let me mention that you export to the United States, Japan, China, Australia, England, Italy, Slovakia… This year, you have also impressed the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. What are the reactions to your oil?
It’s true. In the United States, it is used by chefs in the best Michelin-starred restaurants. It is also used by the best chefs in Italy. It is also very popular with end consumers elsewhere in the world. Our shipments fly to virtually all corners of the world, to all continents, and we have even sent our pumpkin seed oil to some exotic island. Last time it was sent to Bali, where it was offered to guests at the Kudeta restaurant… This year, we also presented the oil at the Gulfood fair, which is considered to be the largest culinary fair in the Arab world. There we had contact with the best chefs from the Arab and Asian world. They were extremely enthusiastic and there is a lot of interest in using our oil. In Dubai, in addition to our oils, we also presented Two Oils One Love oil, which was created in cooperation with the Lisjak oil mill. We combined two stories into one, namely pumpkin seed oil with olive oil. Pumpkin seed oil is an original – autochthonous Slovenian product, as the first pumpkin seed oil was made in Fram in 1750. At the other end of our small country, we have one of the best olive oils, because of its variety and climate, characterized by its spiciness and freshness. And it is this combination of two flavors and the story of the oil that stunned the chefs and opened the door to the most prestigious hotels and their restaurants in Dubai.
You also made oil that will especially delight all moms, namely cold-pressed canola oil. In other words, rapeseed oil, although this name is not very appropriate for this oil. Or?
It’s true. This oil is new in our shop and we waited a good year to get all the relevant analyses. Although rapeseed and canola are very similar in appearance, the genetic differences between them are such that they each belong to their own botanical species. Compared to canola, the yield and oil content in rapeseed are lower. The composition of oils in rapeseed is much worse and harmful to health (winter rapeseed oil is squeezed for technical purposes, and spring rapeseed is mostly fed fresh or ensiled). In our country, therefore, it is only a mistake in naming the oil that appears on the market.
Canola oil is very healthy. Would you trust us with anything about this?
The oil contains very useful ingredients and is one of the most sought after oils in the world. It is much more durable than other oils, as it is resistent at very high temperatures – even when heated several times. It has a high monounsaturated content and polyunsaturated fats omega 3, 6 and 9. It has an extremely low saturated fatty acids content (only approx. 6g / 100ml, e.g. olive oil 14g / 100ml, sunflower oil 11g / 100ml). It is a rich source of vitamin E, helps lower cholesterol, due to the high omega 3 fatty acids content (among vegetable oils) has a beneficial effect on cognitive development of children, reduces increased blood fats and heart disease. In general, it strengthens the immune system very well.
Get the Kócbek recipe booklet using our products
Fill out the form below and you will receive selected recipes from the Kócbek oil mill to the e-mail address entered.