The Kul IN alumni Karlo Moretti is the owner and head chef of the Nigra restaurant on the island of Korčula. With its lavender fields, olive trees and dreamy beaches, the island is a prototype of intoxicating Mediterranean atmosphere. The island of Korčula is famous for its fortified old town, sunny weather, vibrant culture, and small-town charm, and all of these things are best experienced through food (you already know our recommendation). Every day, Karlo works to develop the vision of his restaurant and through the work he does, he promotes the local community, local businesses, producers, and fishermen. Read the full interview and take a deep dive into his youthful, innovative approach to running a restaurant on one of the most beautiful islands on the Croatian coast.
Kul IN: What are your experiences from Kul IN?
- I would like to emphasize that education is first and foremost an experience because, in addition to knowledge, you also expand your horizons and acquire a new contemporary view of gastronomy itself.
Kul IN: You are also a restaurant owner, how did that come about?
- When I started working on Korčula, I realized that many people lack knowledge about cooking and serving. After a couple of years, provoked by all the bosses who do not invest enough in their staff, I came up with the idea to try to throw myself into the restaurant business not only as a chef but also as a business owner.
Kul IN: Tell us more about the concept of the Nigra restaurant and your team ...
- The team is largely from Kul IN, which is important because we all understand each other, speak the same culinary language and are at the same level of knowledge. There are four of us in the kitchen - two guys from Kul IN, the head waiter and me. Some think that working on the island requires special motivation, but I disagree, we all came here with enthusiasm and have not regret it. At the beginning, i.e. the whole first year, the concept was a classic bistro, a classic menu. Because of the pandemic, the inspiration came to get closer to fine dining. So today we have 3 menus - Nature, Land, Sea. We procure groceries locally and obtain fresh fish from the village fishermen, we have "fish of the day" style offers and the like, but we are focused on the fine dining atmosphere. The guests have loved the new direction we are heading in and recognized our effort to empower the islanders. We won't do things that have nothing to do with our story and environment, we champion our local culture.
Kul IN: What are the strengths of your restaurant?
- We support the local community, small businesses and village fishermen. We use what surrounds us on Korčula - we collect algae, wild plants, etc.
Kul IN: What’s changed since you have your own restaurant, as opposed to being a chef alone?
- All my past experiences have contributed to me being here today. As a restaurant owner, you take on other responsibilities besides the kitchen, you develop a vision and plan. It is important that you have confidence in the people to whom you leave the kitchen, I am lucky that my chef finished Kul IN and ALMA, so we understand each other perfectly. You work all day, so you have to live for this job if you want to be successful.
Kul IN: How would you describe Korčula to someone, what makes having a restaurant on Korčula special?
- Korčula is specific because it is not based on urban, so-called party tourism. Our guests are mostly Americans, Australians and make up a fantastic audience for fine dining. This year we had to adapt to other markets because most tourists were from Poland, but we did great. We have no problems with procurement because we only use what our fishermen catch and what the farmers grow, we try to invest the money back into the island.