Alumni: Dragoslav Bjelajac

“I’ve done all kinds of things in my life, but this makes me the happiest. I decided to follow this career path out of love. I haven’t been in this sector for long; I only started working after graduating, but I look forward to a long and exciting career.” 

 

 

 

Drago is a perfect example of how life’s paths to success might not always be clear. Sometimes we need to try our luck. What is important is to never give up, as Drago would say. After completing vocational school as a technician in Sisak, Drago tried running the family caffe/fast food/restaurant. Although the years of work helped him develop strong business and management skills, he always felt that something was missing.  In his search for the career of his dreams, he kept coming back to food, and finally decided that it was time to receive a culinary education. He registered for Kul IN’s joint program “Professional Cook of Italian Cuisine”. Under the expert leadership of Chef Zdravko Perić and top chef-professors at ALMA’s culinary practicums, including Giovanni Cirese and Mauro Ellia, he shaped his skills as a young chef and absorbed the outstanding ideas and concepts for preparing food.

Due to his success in classes, he received strong recommendations and an internship in Venice at Restaurant Gran Caffe Quadri, which is also a protected landmark of the city. The restaurant is part of the Alajmo chain of family restaurants, which has become one of the largest brand names of modern Italian cuisine. The Michelin star restaurant Gran Caffe Quadri is located in downtown Venice on Piazza San Marco. Famous faces in literature, classical music, and movies are frequent at Restaurant Quadri. Along with the brilliant experience of interning with the Alajmo team and learning from Chef Massimiliano Alajmo, Drago was more than prepared for his final exam and for an upcoming job opportunity. Soon after receiving his diploma, his experience led him to an a la carte restaurant in Fazana. Rosignola Valbandon was in search of a young chef with perspective who would improve the restaurant’s work. After a very short trial period, Drago was accepted to the position of kitchen chef where he had a chance to build the overall image of the restaurant through the design of new menus. Today, Dragoslav is the successful chef of the Lanterna restaurant in Pula, where he nurtures traditional Continental and Mediterranean Croatian cuisine, presenting it in a new, contemporary way.

“For me, the biggest challenge was that I didn’t have any professional experience, and employers are looking for experience. However, this really depends on the individual. We don’t only learn from school, but also from the media: internet, books, and television taught me a lot. I cooked at home and I wanted to try everything.

Today, working as a chef, I enjoy the busy rhythm of the kitchen and the praise received from a happy guest after a beautifully arranged dinner. I would advise younger colleagues to be persistent and to absorb all the knowledge that somebody is offering them, to be curious and to never be afraid to say ‘I don’t know.’ Most importantly, try everything. And never hold a prejudice against food.”

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