I want to continue to share with people my food creations, approach them with a compassionate smile, and face every new challenge without fear.
We spoke with our alumna and one of the chefs at the Michelin restaurant The Cook from Genoa, Ivona Jerković. She revealed to us what a working day at the Michelin restaurant looks like, how she found her way in this new world and what motivates her on her professional path.
PROFESSIONAL PATH IN 4 SENTENCES
Kul IN: You achieved a huge success in a short amount of time, tell us more about your journey after Kul IN and ALMA?
- Before Kul IN, I worked on a ship as a yacht chef, so I came to Kul IN with some experience. I enrolled in Kul IN because I wanted to have a good foundation, to have a more organized knowledge system. Shortly after the end of the program, a pandemic happened and I was afraid that ALMA would not even happen for me, but luckily my wish came true. Through ALMA, I got an internship in Genoa at The Cook restaurant. After the internship, they suggested me for permanent employment and now I'm here!
WORKING AT THE COOK MICHELIN RESTAURANT
Kul IN: What is the concept of the restaurant? What do you want to convey to your guests and what do your guests remember about you?
- The most important thing for us is that the food is tasty, and when we build a plate, we think about that first. If someone from the kitchen is not satisfied, that dish does not go out. We draw inspiration for interesting flavors and colors of the province of Liguria. Liguria is known for its colors, flowers, and history, and our goal is to convey that culture and translate it in a modern way, both visually and with flavors and ingredients. In addition to sustainability and locality, guests also remember us for the restaurant space itself, which is located in the historic center, and the interior is completely frescoed, it is beautiful inside.
We have three tasting menus, fish, meat and vegetarian. Seven courses per menu, so that everyone in the kitchen is responsible for approximately six to seven dishes. Together we make amous bouche, a colleague makes sourdough, we make focaccia by ourselves, there's a lot of things to do. The concept of the restaurant is modern and Italian. In Italy, each province has its own food culture and we take great care of that, so we incorporate locality in a modern way. The locality is also reflected in the team itself, most of the team is from Genoa, and the rest of us did very well, I'm already thinking in Italian!
IVONA'S DAY IN LIFE
Kul IN: What are your responsibilities in the restaurant and what does an average working day look like at The Cook?
- Currently, I am the Capo partita primi piatti and I am in charge of everything related to pasta, risotto - I do the preparation, service, I help in creating and designing the dishes. Currently, we are all working together on designing a new menu and we plan to raise the offer to an even higher level. Our head chef Ivano Ricchebono is happy with the setup in the kitchen and now we want to go one step further after the first Michelin star. It's time for the winter menu, which will be based on seasonal ingredients, with the zero-kilometer principle at the forefront, because we try to get everything from the surrounding farms and suppliers.
I leave the house at 9 in the morning and walk for half an hour, I prefer walking to public transport. First we all have an esspresso, and then we start with the preparation and welcome the supplies that arrive throughout the morning. Around 11:30 AM we have lunch and open the restaurant. From 3 PM to 6 PM we have a break, unless I have a lot of fresh pasta to make, and from 6 we start preparing for dinner and we are in the restaurant until midnight. Chef Ivano is popular, so sometimes we go with him to fairs, to Milano, to television and the like. We also sell our pan dolce sweet bread, which is similar to panettone. Banquets and small weddings are often held. It is a dynamic environment, the kitchen is open, so we are used to interacting with guests. For example, we recently prepared a dish and the sous chef sent me out to present the dish, which wouldn't have been a problem if he hadn't asked for it to be in Italian. It's good that I didn't have time to be nervous, I just went out and it went great!
EDUCATION AS PREPARATION
Kul IN: How did your education prepare you to work in the kitchen of a top restaurant?
- Education prepares you to be more confident, learn culinary techniques and acquire the foundations. As far as soft skills are concerned, during education you learn to deal with stress - exams, long hours, a healthy dose of pressure and communication with different people. It prepares you technically and as a person for the chef's way of life.
Kul IN: What would you single out as your main source of motivation? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- I was always curious and interested in trying something new. I like everything that is creative, different and I simply found myself in the professional kitchen. In this business, you are like a family. I don't see work as work, but as something I do for myself, as if it were mine. It is important for me to stay in motion, endurance is very important, so I go to the gym during the break, it is important to work on that. I knew I would work a lot, and I knew had what it takes. Where do I see myself in 5 years? I have no idea, but I definitely see myself in the kitchen and in a great position. I like life in Italy. People truly appreciate food, chefs, and ALMA and you can feel it, I don't think there is a better environment for a chef.
Kul IN: How would you describe your cooking style?
- I thought about that question a lot, but I have to conclude that it hasn't fully developed yet. I change, learn new things and progress as the time goes on. I can see the path I'm taking, but I'm still interested in anything and everything, so I'll give my style more time to crystallize. For now, I want to continue to share with people my food creations, approach them with a compassionate smile, and face every new challenge without fear.
Kul IN: And finally, the best gift for a chef is...
- A pillow! (laughs) I'm not a fan of knives s gifts, everyone has to feel the knife in their hand. Everyone here likes new fashionable uniforms, nice shoes for work. Practical gifts all the way!