I believe that my plans and my desire to leave a mark in the pastry world left everyone pleasantly surprised, and I was awarded the scholarship.
Our alumni Marina has loved to bake since she was a little girl. However, she decided to dedicate her career to pastry arts after graduating from high school, so she enrolled in the Professional Pastry and Confections program. The last few years have been very busy and inspiring for her, and the best is yet to come - after completing the program and her internship, her career has taken off and she is living the dream of every young pastry chef. Pursuing education and professional training was the first in a series of bold decisions, and it proved a success - Marina worked at the renowned pastry shop Vis a Vis by Vincek for a time, and received a scholarship from the Budi Foodie foundation and participated in the prestigious Chef's Stage congress this year, also she was one of the winners of the competition part. Read more about Marina's path paved with bold decisions and inspiring success below.
1. What has your professional journey looked like so far, what motivated you to pursue pastry?
- For me, pastry arts has always been an escape from reality. I always knew I wanted to be a pastry chef, I loved baking cakes and making pastries for my family. However, the final decision came after graduating from high school. I grew eager to acquire new knowledge and skills, and I decided to get a job so that I could obtain the necessary financial resources and invest in my future pastry career. What motivated me was the opportunity to explore and play with different compatible and incompatible flavors, as well as the fact that personal imagination and creation has no limits in pastry.
2. The first pastry you made by yourself was _____? How did it turn out?
- It was the famous Zagorje strudel. I made it with the help of my mother, Blaženka, and it was...nothing short of perfect (laughs).
3. Kul IN was your school of choice. How did you find out about the school and how did you like it?
- Honestly, I have to say that I personally consider Kul IN to be the only competent school in Croatia as far as the gastronomy and culinary programs are concerned. Before embarking on this adventure of mine, I did a lot of research - what, where, how, and when to enroll. Ultimately, I made the best choice in my opinion, and chose Kul IN. In short, it was great. I will forever remember all the days spent in the town of Sisak, the life-long friendships I made there, experiences, practicums and pastry secrets that I learned during my study. Although my time in Sisak went by so fast, I dare say it was the most beautiful period in my life.
4. What lesson did you particularly like or find most useful?
- It is impossible to single out just one, I would have to make a list, since all lessons are connected and intertwined into a wholesome package. Our lecturer Marko worked closely with us and tried to explain each lesson to the smallest details.
5. How has education helped you pursue your career?
- As far as training at Kul IN is concerned, I can truly say that this type of education has helped me greatly and has certainly been an important stepping stone on my professional journey. After completing the program, Kul IN secured an internship for me. After the internship, I stayed there for several months. Not long after that, I got a job at Vis a Vis by Vincek. Of course, I am glad I get to cherish the special bond with Kul IN, I keep in touch with the staff and attend masterclasses and workshops. I hope it stays that way in the future, the love is mutual!
6. Can you tell us which pastry you absolutely love to prepare, and why?
- When I'm at home, I like to bake all sorts of things that fit my personal taste, so it always turns out to be something different, innovative and brand new. But, when it comes to my family, lately I have been baking and making themed cakes. I can let my imagination run wild and I enjoy it very much.
7. You have won the Budi Foodie's scholarship, what exactly does that mean?
Budi Foodie is a foundation for young people who have the desire and the will to work and realize themselves professionally within Croatian gastronomy. The scholarship was devised by chef Rudolf Štefan, who also owns the Pelegrini restaurant - the first Michelin star restaurant in Croatia. He is also the organizer of Chef’s Stage, one of the largest gastronomy conferences in Croatia.
8. What did the whole process from your application to winning the scholarship look like?
- The application process was easy and a bit difficult at the same time. First, we had to provide some personal information, which was pretty easy; however, what was a little difficult for me was writing the motivation letter, because what I feel in my heart, and what I think about when it comes to pastry cannot be easily translated onto a single sheet of paper. In order to apply, I had to send the motivation letter and fill in the application form and wait for the next stage of the process. The selection part took place in Zagreb at the Palace Hotel. There, we went through psychological testing before the practical part of the selection process. In the very end, we had a conversation with Mr. Štefan and the three representatives from Coca-Cola, one of the foundation’s sponsors. After the interview, we were told that we would be notified of the final outcome in 10-15 days. Five participants were contacted, three were contenders for the scholarship, myself included, and two were invited as guests. We were informed in advance that the winner would be announced during the last day of the Chef’s Stage congress, which took place in March 2019. Everyone who attended the congress was delighted when they announced that all three of us would win the scholarship and that we won the Chef’s Stage competition.
9. What do you think is the reason you are one of the three selected scholarship recipients?
- I will never know for sure. The interview in the selection part was very exhaustive and thorough but I decided to let go of all the fears, and told everyone there about my own pastry-journey. I even managed to unveil a few of my personal plans for the near future, though there are many. I believe that my plans and my desire to leave a mark in the pastry world left everyone pleasantly surprised, and I was awarded the scholarship.
10. What would you say to future Kul IN students?
- I would like to tell all future Kul IN students not to give up on their dreams. Furthermore, they should arm themselves with patience and courage. It is important to listen and absorb as much knowledge and skills as possible in order to be as good as possible and to realize the potential and talent you have been blessed with. Don't hesitate to ask questions when you don't understand something, remember - there are no stupid questions. Behind each of your questions is a personal curiosity, and it grants you the opportunity to learn something new, something that will benefit you in your future career. It's important to emphasize one more thing - don't forget to be humble. Always remember why you started something, because that will motivate you to keep trying and eventually realize your personal goals and desires.
11. What makes a good pastry chef?
In my opinion, a good pastry chef is someone who loves their job, and pastry arts makes them a better person.