Our alumni Andrea Filipović has truly realized her goal of an international pastry career. However, she continues to further her education by attending workshops and seminars, and she had the opportunity to work beside the renowned pastry chef Karim Bourgi during one of the workshops. In the past, Andrea's pastry career took her all the way to Canada but now she is working in Austria - she is the head of the pastry department and delights the guests with her pastries at a five-star hotel every day.
Kul IN:How did your pastry journey begin? Was professional pastry something you had always wanted to do?
- After two years of studying at the ETF in Osijek, I realized that computer science was not my true passion. My mom always loved making cakes and cookies, so I fell in love with pastry as well, and realized that I wanted to be a professional pastry chef.
- I started looking for pastry courses on the Internet and came across Kul IN. I checked out the website, browsed the pictures on Facebook, sent an email and that's how it started. In March 2015, I enrolled in the two-month Professional Pastry and Confections program, and that experience helped me immensely. Thanks to our lecturer Marko, I learned many new things.
Kul IN: Where have you worked so far?
- After successfully completing the program, I got a job as a confectioner at the Holiday Inn **** Hotel in Austria. I did not get on well since I was in a foreign country, had to speak a foreign language, and had no real-life experience since I had just finished the program. I decided to return to Croatia and spent one summer working on the coast. I got a job as a pastry chef in Petrčane, in the Falkensteiner Hotel & Spa Iadera, a five star hotel. I did really well there. Every day, I made pastries for the buffet with one of my colleagues. I have benefited from this experience, both professionally and privately, as I have made many friends with whom I stay in contact to this day. After Iadera, I decided to return to Austria again. I got a job at Lienz, at the Parkhotel Tristachersee, a four star hotel. I spent a year there working as Chef Patissier. We had strudels, cakes and the "a la carte" menu, for which I created new desserts every three months. After Lienz, I ventured across the ocean. I found a job at the best pastry shop in Edmonton, Canada - La Boule Patisserie & Bakery. Every morning, from 6 am to 9 am, I spent decorating cakes. For the rest of my working hours, I made various cakes from the offer. Working in Canada helped me upgrade my professional skills, and master new techniques as a pastry chef.
Kul IN: Today you work as a Chef Patissier in Austria, what does a pastry chef's day at a five star hotel look like?
- I am currently working as Chef Patissier at a five star hotel in Austria. Together with a colleague of mine, I prepare pastries for the afternoon buffet and a dessert for dinner every day. We try to prepare everything ourselves - from a large supply of ice cream and sorbet to strudel, kuglof, waffles. As far as the "a la carte" aspect is concerned, we have a small lunch menu which includes various cups and Kaiserschmarrn, a traditional Austrian dessert.
Kul IN: What, in your opinion, is the main difference between working at a large hotel and a small patisserie, and what are the benefits of working in one vs. the other?
- There is a big difference between working at a hotel and working at a patisserie. I prefer working at a hotel because you have more creative freedom there. Every day, you get to prepare desserts you personally chose, so young pastry chefs can learn a lot and develop their creativity in a short period of time. Personally, working at a patisserie seems a little tedious because you prepare the same cakes and pastries every day. Even so, working in a patisserie has its advantages and one of them is eight-hour work day. However, I'm not complaining!
Kul IN: Even though you are young, you already have a lot of work experience, can you list five traits that every good pastry chef should have?
- In my opinion, the most important thing for any pastry chef who wants to grow in this industry is that everything should be done with love. In addition, it is very important to be confident and well-organized. And of course, you have to be eager to learn something new every day.
Kul IN: Have you found your creative signature as a pastry chef yet, a technique, food item, etc. that best showcases your style?
- I'm leaning toward modern pastry. Every cake I make is simple, whether I make it at home or at work. Leonardo da Vinci himself said, "Simplicity is the ultimate perfection." I still cannot say that I have found my creative signature but I hope to find one because my goal is to open a patisserie of my own one day. However, not in the near future - starting my own business seems like too much of an obligation at the moment. Besides, the rest of the world is waiting for me to visit it.
Kul IN: Is there a perfect dessert in your opinion?
- Perfect desserts are Paris Brest and lemon tart. I could eat those every day!
Kul IN: What are your plans for the near future?
- We are currently nearing the end of the season, then I am going with the chef, the restaurant manager and the hotel manager to Barcelona. Specifically, the chef is opening a bar that will be inspired by Spanish tapas bars. We will be touring the bars around Barcelona for three days. We are trying to create the best menu for the upcoming winter. After that, I will spend have three days at a Karim Bourgi's workshop, at the school of the famous pastry chef Hans Ovad.