Knowledge enables you to do anything, it gives you independence to keep growing in an informed way. If you start without a foundation, that education will be very dispersed, as if you are building a house from the roof down - it is impossible. When a quality education is your foundation, you can grow much more effectively. Starting my business before getting an education was out of question.
After 19 years of working in a bank, Natalija Jagunić decided to turn her hobby into a business. The first step on her path was finding a suitable education program. Education, she says, must be an important part in every business plan dealing with pastry and baking. Natalija enrolled in the Professional Pastry and Confections program, became a Kul IN alumna and successfully started her own business. Now, she is returning to us as a lecturer!
PASTRY CHEF ENTREPRENEUR
Kul IN: Tell us more about yourself as a pastry chef?
- After 19 years of working in a bank, I wondered what I would like to do for a living if money was not an issue - the answer was pastry and confectionery! First, I had to find a suitable education program. I knew that knowledge is the foundation and a prerequisite for moving in the right direction, that it is not enough to be a self-taught pastry chef.
I was not interested in getting the diploma as the document itself per se, I wanted practical knowledge, useful in my future work. I found Kul IN, came to visit and decided to enroll.
It was the first step towards realizing the desire for my professional independence. I knew that with education I could turn my hobby into a new career. Now I see that I made a brave but right decision because I love what I do!
Kul IN: What approach did you take when you were entering the business realm?
- After Kul IN, I went on an internship, and soon became an entrepreneur pastry chef. When I was working on my business plan, my target group was restaurants, coffee shops and cafes. I make everything from cakes to monoportions, and my core business is working with restaurants and coffee shops.
Kul IN: What makes your business special?
- I started this business out of pure love for confectionery and I follow my style. Interestingly, from the beginning, my desire was to work with restaurants and coffee shops, not so much for private clients.
NATALIJA AS A LECTURER
Kul IN: Why is education important for pastry chefs?
- Knowledge enables you to do anything, it gives you independence to keep growing in an informed way. If you start without a foundation, that education will be very dispersed, as if you are building a house from the roof down - it is impossible. When a quality education is your foundation, you can grow much more effectively. Starting my business before getting an education was out of question.
The fact that you completed a pastry program communicates seriousness and respect for the craft. This is especially true if you are starting a business on your own. Education and investing in it must be a part of your business plan. Otherwise, stagnation will be unavoidable.
Kul IN: You have recently become a Kul IN lecturer, what have you and the students bake this week?
- We made modern versions of all standard, crowd pleaser cakes, e.g. the Schwartzwald cake. We made a modern version of tiramisu - we added an interesting texture with a crunchy layer.
We also prepared monoportions with pistachios, raspberries and dark and white chocolate mousse, and macarons filled with two types of ganache - milk chocolate and pistachios. Fruits cannot be overlooked, so we made a cake with mascarpone dacquoise sponge and fruits. The students also played with fondant and French butter cream.
How did we modernize the cakes? A good example is the Schwartzwald cake. It is ususally composed of a regular sponge, topped with whipped cream and cherries. We wanted to switch things up by incorporating cherries in the form of cherry puree, we made a chocolate joconde sponge, added namelka cream with maraschino and dark chocolate mousse. We topped it all with a cocoa mirror glaze.
Kul IN: How did you like the lectures?
- When you combine things that make you happy, confectionery and teaching, the result is fantastic. I enjoyed it thouroughly. The students were great, they are diligent, and don't hesitate to redo the process if they have make a mistake. Everyone gives their maximum. I also have a message for them! I want to tell them not to get angry when they make a mistake but to see the mistake as an opportunity to learn what needs to change in the future. Mistakes are an integral part of learning and working.
Kul IN: What approach do you have as a lecturer and educator?
- Every education program must start with basic techniques, and then when you learn the basics within a quality program, you can further upgrade and play with the rules. I think it’s important for students to know that you have the willingness to show them everything in detail. When they see that the lecturer is enthusiastic about what they do, the students will try to be equally thorough and excited about their work.
It is important to stay open-minded and understanding of the students and their development Educators should always keep in mind that they were also beginners once, they had doubts and questions about things that are now their second nature. I like to be there for the students' questions, I always give my best to be a source of knowledge and advice for them, so that they can continue to grow as professionals and build on the foundation I gave them.
Kul IN: As an educator, what is the most important thing a lecturer can convey to students?
- I want to encourage them to never stop developing. They should always be in-the-know about what is happening in our industry, follow the chefs, be aware of new techniques and trends that are emerging every day. This is the only way to be a successful pastry chef in 2021.