"I have decided to continue my education at ALMA because I want that first-hand insight into the foundations of Italian gastronomy to be an important signpost for the rest of my career. I think studying at ALMA will be a stepping stone for my career. "
Andrej Ivanšić has never had an issue deciding where to take his culinary career. Although a young chef, Andrej has already acquired vast experience working in top Croatian hotels and restaurants, and rubbing elbows with professional chefs. Those experiences shaped him into the chef he is today. Powered by his desire for learning, progressing and investing in the future, Andrej has decided to continue his education at ALMA, which will provide him with additional confidence necessary to reach the goals he has set for himself.
MY CULINARY JOURNEY
My culinary journey started in Osijek, at the hotel restaurant "Zimska luka" alongside the chef Tomica Đukić, where I worked for a year. Beside chef Đukić, I had the opportunity to learn all the basic techniques of cooking, from cold appetizers to main courses. The next stop on my journey was Rovinj where I joined the tourist company called Maistra, and stayed there for the next four years. During that time I worked at several facilities, hotels and tourist resorts, the Villas Rubin resort, the Amarin tourist resort and the Lone hotel. At Villas Rubin I started working as a cook at the Bonaca restaurant, and at the end of the summer season, having advanced immensely, I was promoted and became the sauté chef and continued working there for another year. Since I proved to be a great saute chef, I was offered a job as a sous chef. Over the next two years, I worked as a sous chef at the Villas Rubin and Amarin. What’s more, at the Lone hotel I took part in various training programs and very interesting events and festivals, such as the British American Tobacco event, a salsa festival etc. During this period, that old desire for new knowledge and learning started reappearing within me, and I quit my job at Maistra. I enjoyed living the Mediterranean lifestyle and working with Mediterranean cuisine, so I stayed on the coast and started working at a restaurant called La Puntulina in Rovinj, Istria.
At La Puntulina, I was offered a job as the sous chef alongside Marko Zaharija, the executive chef. I was heading the first shift until 3-4 o'clock when the executive chef would join me, so I would finish my work day as a sous chef. There were about 14 chefs in the kitchen, so everything had to be done meticulously and in perfect order, e.g. mise en place, lunch and dinner preparation. The perfect order had to be maintained while using the predetermined amount of ingredients. Most of La Puntulina's customers book their tables in advance, so guests who come spontaneously are quite rare. This made our lives easier because we could always check the number of guests and know whether there are any large groups or birthday parties happening that day. La Puntolina is a restaurant that has a large seating area, and receives a considerable number of people daily, which means that the organization had to be impeccable. In addition to preparing and offering meals from the menu, we had many special orders and special dishes tailored to a particular guest. This meant there was plenty of room for creativity, using different and innovative techniques and serving styles. I advanced and learned a lot at La Putulina, the chef, Mark Zaharija, is very knowledgeable and delights in sharing his knowledge with others. Moreover, the owner of La Puntulina is a man with many years of experience behind him, especially regarding Asian cuisine since he lived in the Maldives at one point. Long story short, La Puntulina constituted an enjoyable experience and I had the freedom to nurture my creativity there.
LOVE FOR FOOD
The secret behind my passion is simple – preparing food makes me feel great. I like to witness people's happiness after they have tasted an interesting, great dish. Also, I like when the food is well prepared and up to the highest standards. It feels great when you create a dish from different ingredients, when the end product is as enjoyable as you hoped it would be and when the customer is satisfied. It gets even better if the customer invites you to their table and commends you.
Various experiences have shaped me into the chef I am today. These career-shaping circumstances followed me from the very beginning because I worked hard and had luck on my side. In other words, I was able to work with top chefs, such as Goran Glavan, Thomas Curiri, Teo Ivanišević and a number of other knowledgeable and talented people. These are the people who demanded things be done correctly; among other requirements, hygiene and the organization had to be flawless. Therefore, I have to say that Maistra, especially chefs who worked there, really shaped me as a chef.
Regarding Kul IN, I want to emphasize the detailed and intensive lessons on cooking methods and the proper handling of ingredients. Indeed, both theory lessons and practical lessons are very detailed. I also want to highlight the fact that we were encouraged to use and learn professional terminology and definitions of cooking methods. These components are very important because they enable you to function in a professional environment, thereby reducing the possibility of misunderstanding and communication breakdown among chefs. Kul IN creates a community of people who share knowledge, communicate and collaborate easily. I particularly enjoyed the lessons on different types of fish, shellfish and seafood in general because Mediterranean cuisine is what I'm most interested in. At Kul IN you cover and explore a great deal of culinary universe. I believe that Kul IN programs give you a broader view of the culinary and gastronomy world while expanding your views and horizons at the same time.
I'm really excited about studying at ALMA. They really focus on high cuisine, utilize many elements that I haven't seen before, and use many ingredients I have never worked with. I think that ALMA's instructors and professors are very proficient and I will certainly learn a lot from them. I think ALMA will be a big turning point in my life. I have chosen ALMA because I would often come upon and experience some unusual situations – people prepared dishes using many different methods and foods in the preparation process, which is called fusion. However, this doesn't appeal to me. I have decided to continue my education at ALMA because I want the foundation of Italian gastronomy, methods and techniques that I will master there, to be a stepping stone for the rest of my career.
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
I want to live outside of Croatia for a year or two after I complete my education. I would like to go to Denmark or Switzerland. There are certain things that make me want to go there; I want to see how top-level professional kitchens, characterized by Scandinavian order and discipline, work.
WHAT DOES "A GOOD CHEF" MEAN?
A good chef should be a good psychologist, he or she should know how to manage people and get the maximum effort from them. A good chef also needs to be a good organizer, have an unyielding character, and be an actual good chef. I believe that executive chefs let young chefs, sous chefs or head chefs carry the burden of cooking, and they themselves deal with other things in the kitchen, from the organization, dealing with distributors and groceries to the administration...
A great chef has to be very organized, and good at waking up early in the morning!