"I've always preferred fewer people, more intimate atmosphere, and environments that offer you the freedom to express and be creative, places where you are allowed to change and develop. I've always run away from the industry. Kul IN stepped in and shaped me at the time when I had to go back to the start and properly learn the basics of culinary arts. It has provided me with many ideas I apply on a daily basis as a chef at Villa Ariston."
Even as a child, the Kul IN alumni Miroslav Šobot showed interest in creating and cooking but his professional life began far away from gastronomy as he earned a master’s degree in economics. However, culinary arts found their way back into his life in a serious and wholesome way. Read the article and find out how and why he decided to enroll at Kul IN, what is his life like as the chef at one of the best Croatian restaurants, Villa Ariston, where he finds the motivation, inpiration and creativity. We also have a scoop on the daily routines at the renowned restaurant Villa Ariston.
What are your first memories of food preparation?
- My first food memories are directly tied to my grandma and mom who prepared food at home. I also had a thing for cooking even in childhood, our family gatherings always ended with me taking charge of the grill, I just liked to cook for friends and family. However, my professional culinary path began quite accidentally. Although I have masters’ degree in economics, I got a job as a skipper on a yacht where I started cooking professionally, first for the crew, then for the owner of the yacht, his friends, and finally for all the guests. After six years of cooking on yachts, I enrolled at Kul IN. I lacked some basics and wanted to further my culinary education and advance in that area. It is difficult to progress when you are doing something all by yourself, without formal culinary education.
To what extent has Kul IN shaped and changed your view of the industry?
- I do not like the industry part. I've always preferred fewer people, more intimate atmosphere, and environments that offer you the freedom to express yourself and be creative, places where you are allowed to change and develop. I have always run away from the industry. Kul IN stepped in and shaped me at the time when I had to go back to the start and properly learn the basics of culinary arts. It has provided me with many ideas I apply today on a daily basis at Villa Ariston. It's important to learn culinary techniques properly, you gain a certain level of confidence when you have the solid foundation.
For more information on our Culinary Arts program, click here.
Today, you are the chef at Villa Ariston, tell us how that came to be.
- After Kul IN, I spent some time at the Nenad Kukurin's restaurant, Kukuriku. That was my first encounter with an authentic restaurant environment. It was a very interesting experience, but we worked a lot, all day. There was also Stancija Kovačići where I stayed one season. I still worked on yachts occassionally until the moment I got a job at Villa Ariston.
Tell us more about Villa Ariston, the concept of the kitchen and your team?
- There are four of us in the kitchen. We are all pretty young and we gel with each other perfectly. Restaurant offer depends on the day. The menu itself is small and includes fish and meat dishes. The daily offer primarily depends on the groceries that are available depending on the season, and gives us plenty of freedom to combine various interesting flavors. Here you can find meat carpaccios, interesting combinations with wasabi, fois gras etc. A typical day begins with grocery shopping for the day. In the morning, I go to the market to buy groceries. We also have contractors, fishermen and butchers with whom we constantly cooperate and who supply us with fish and meat. In addition, we make sure there is a sufficient amount of other foods and necessities that are sometimes delivered throughout the day, e.g. olive oil, finger food containers and toothpicks. As the restaurant is only open for dinner, we start preparing food in the afternoon, between 2 and 4 PM, and serve dinner from 6 PM onwards. After we close for the day, we compile a list of groceries that need to be bought the next morning and so the circle closes.
How does working at a hotel differ from working on a yacht?
- It all boils down to cooking at the end of the day. The difference is that in the restaurant you never know what number of guests to expect. Villa Ariston has 10 rooms for guests, so every evening you can have a different number of people dining at the restaurant – some are staying at the hotel, others are coming just to have dinner, also, some guests of the hotel eat out sometimes so the number of people varies every night. Basically, all the dishes and ingredients listed on the menu must always be available and we must have all the options covered. On a yacht you always know the number of guests but you have to be available 24/7. You work all day, from the breakfast in the morning, then lunch and dinner. Furthermore, the crew and guests have different menus, and the menu for guest changes on a daily basis.
Do you have a cooking style and does it define you as a chef?
- I'm not sure I can define myself as a chef, I don't stick to a particular style. What is important is that what I prepare is delicious, the rest is optional. Presentation is also important because we eat with our eyes as well but you should never take it too far.
If you could change one thing about your culinary journey, what would it be?
- I would have definitely started this journey sooner! Although this is a tough job, a job where you do not have any afternoon to yourself, you don't have weekends or holidays off, if you really love it, you will still do it and enjoy it.
Program: Culinary Arts
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