I am very happy with the program, I truly enjoyed it. The curriculum and the whole layout have been well elaborated and realized, study materials are also great. I am also glad that we got together well as a team, it will be difficult to part with my colleagues. We are already making plans for the summer! You meet people who share the same love, the same passion for food that you have here. There is always something to talk about, a recipe or idea that requires a discussion.
Ivona Jerković is one of those Kul IN students who had an enviable work experience prior to enrolling in the Culinary Arts program. She has worked in a hotel kitchen and, as a chef on yachts, she experienced the vibrancy of working in nautical tourism. She decided to leave this life behind for two months to pursue education in Sisak. Ivona fell in love with this small town while she was here, and we understand why – a peaceful, safe town makes a perfect place for studying.
Kul IN: Where have you worked so far? Do you have prior experience working in the culinary arts?
- I graduated from a humanities and social sciences college, majoring in early childhood education but I soon realized that it was not my passion, at least for now. I worked in Germany as an assistant chef at my sister's restaurant and hotel, it was my first encounter with a professional kitchen. That job happened because I needed a break from my career and decided to pursue the thing I truly loved; culinary arts. It was also the first test to see if I liked working in the culinary arts, and spoiler alerts, I do! After that, I worked on yachts as a hostess and a part-time chef but, eventually, I started working exclusively as a chef on yachts. I worked all over the Adriatic and in the Caribbean. I'm in the kitchen alone so I have to be both a chef and a pastry chef. There are about 8-12 guests I cook for every day; I am almost their private chef. I cook breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between. The guests expect the best, so the cooking should be excellent, something simple but top-quality and well prepared.
Kul IN: What is the biggest difference between working in a traditional restaurant kitchen and yachts' kitchen?
- On a yacht, you have all the responsibility. You do all the preparation yourself, no help, no extra tools, you have to work with what you have got in that very confined space. There are more people in the restaurant kitchen, and everything is more organized because everyone has their part to do, their respective tasks. Working on a yacht, you have to plan everything yourself and be very punctual, so it is more stressful because you cannot delegate part of the work to others. Also, in the restaurant or hotel kitchen, you can use foods and techniques that you cannot on a yacht kitchen. If you love the sea, the job on a yacht is great, it's more private and you can build relationships with guests, you can meet a lot of people from abroad and network or find business contacts. You are much more mobile and more people hear about you more easily than when you work in a restaurant where you are confined to that place.
Kul IN: Is nautical tourism growing in Croatia?
- It is growing, Croatia is among the top 5 destinations for nautical tourism. The hustle and bustle of the season starts in April and lasts until the end of October. First, the sailboats go out to sea, and in summer, when the sea is calm, families come out as well. Nautical tourism is something that people will only discover, it has developed into a large and luxurious industry. I hope it does not lose its characteristic flair due to going mainstream.
Kul IN: Why did you decide to further your education?
- I want to find a job in a restaurant kitchen, it is stressful to live on a ship. I expect to perfect and further master culinary skills and find a more stable job on land.
Kul IN: Any specific career plans?
- I want to open something of my own someday, but when it happens, I want it to be top-quality, I won't go into something if I don't fully believe in it. I would like to focus on fish-centered fine dining. That's one idea, but I also have a comfort food idea. I am split between wanting to open something focused on fine dining and wanting to open a comfort food restaurant, but who knows, I might open both! (laughter).
Kul IN: Did the program meet your expectations? What is the overall impression?
- I am very happy with the program, I truly enjoyed it. The curriculum and the whole layout have been well elaborated and realized, study materials are also great. I am also glad that we got together well as a team, it will be difficult to part with my colleagues. We are already making plans for the summer! You meet people who share the same love, the same passion for food that you have here. There is always something to talk about, a recipe or idea that requires a discussion.
Kul IN: How did you like Sisak?
- Sisak is beautiful when it's sunny, if I lived here, I would go to nature all the time. We were very tired at weekends, so we didn't go out much, just for coffee on the promenade beside the Kupa River and to the gym. For the most part, we hung out with each other, for example, we would hang out in one of the Kul IN apartments, someone would cook something, and we would just socialize.
Kul IN: Do you have any advice for future students or those who are still undecided about enrolling?
- Just do it! We often spend hours, days, months making up our minds, and we waste a lot of time. I say you just have to take the plunge and get going, you will certainly not have a bad experience here.