"In my opinion Kul IN is the best starting point for those who want to become professionals and for those who want to improve their culinary skills. I know that people who work there put in a lot of effort to accommodate each of us students. So, I advise every prospective student to be focused while at Kul IN but don’t forget to enjoy every day of your study because you probably won’t have a chance like this again in your life."
Ukrainian cuisine has a lot to offer – Ukrainians are unbeatable at making hearty soups and mouthwatering dumplings and compotes, just to name a few gems. Although the heart of Ukrainian cuisine can more easily be found in babusya's kitchen than in fine dining restaurants, Kul IN alumni, Liliia Vitkina decided to combine both and incorporate much needed Ukranian hospitality and warmth into the world of high cuisine. How does she do that? Liliia has graduated from a journalism school, however, she doesn't write about gastronomy, she actively participates in it, she lives it. Read her story below and find out why she chose Kul IN as the entry point into her culinary dream.
Could you share your culinary story with us? What inspired and motivated you to choose this career path?
- It all started when I was at collage studying journalism. Journalism is not a profession closely related to culinary arts but I had the possibility to explore gastronomy through the lens of a writer. I soon realized that I couldn’t be proud of my texts if I didn’t understand the inner world of culinary arts. So after graduation I started working in a restaurant. It was an intense and interesting experience but I also realized I wanted to pursue this career on a more advanced level. So I kept working for several more years to become closer to my dream of going to a prestigious culinary school and learn more than my hometown could offer me at that point. Mastering culinary arts requires comprehensive learning, it is more than cooking, it is mix of different kinds of knowledge - biology, history, physics etc.
- What made you realize Kul IN was the best option for you?
You know, at first I didn’t really understand fully what Kul IN was. But I read a lot about it, sent many letters to the student office and even went from Ukraine to Sisak by car a month before studying, to see everything personally. I was happy at that moment and I still remember that day. Seeing the culinary practicum, equipment and chefs made me understand Kul IN was truly what I needed.
- You are able to analyze your path only after some time has passed, and this is absolutely natural. Furthermore, being a student at a school that is quite different from your standard university can shock you a little bit. People here have their own stories and goals but you quickly learn that teamwork is one of the key aspects during the study. That was difficult for some because it was something completely new to us. However, it was a real school of life experience – staying in a different country, being surrounded by a different culture, studying and working hard simultaneously.
What was your favorite lesson at Kul IN?
- I was most excited about practicums, this hands-on experience really appealed to me. I remember always coming to school half an hour early to organize my workstation and to get in the right mood and mindset. I loved the view from the windows in the morning - especially when it started snowing, unbelievably beautiful. We were working a lot, listening to our instructors, making mistakes and feeling so happy and proud of ourselves after every small success. And also we had a great instructor who was eager to share all the information he had with us.
- Compared to Kul IN, studying at ALMA is a relaxing experience. But this is mostly due to the fact that we stay there for a longer period, and have less practice days during the week. And also we don’t need to come so early – I like that Italian tradition of not waking up so early. Although we have less practice, we have many guest chefs who teach us about the cuisines of different Italian regions and about the professional way of preparing Italian dishes.
- Let’s be honest, this year has been pretty insane (in a good way!). I have changed my lifestyle completely, moved to a different country and now I truly understand that our world is so enormously diverse and gastronomy is one of the most important components of that diversity. I don’t want to stop taking in that vibrancy after all I have learned and seen. And it’s not only about professional skills, it’s about understanding others’ and your own purpose. Also, Kul IN and ALMA are doing a great job with field trips because it is impossible to understand a country if you don’t see its traditions. It makes me grateful – I got to visit traditional places where the authentic cuisine is still alive.
What advice would you give to our prospective students?
- I advise them to listen and ask questions. Be intellectually curious, don’t be afraid to ask questions or voice your opinion, if you say something silly, you will learn something from it. Being a chef is not only reading and thinking “is this dish supposed to turn out like this?” This is hard work and you have to sacrifice your comfort. Moreover, the industry is constantly changing and if you are not interested enough this is probably not for you. In my opinion Kul IN is the best starting point for those who want to become professionals and for those who want to improve their culinary skills. I know that people who work there put in a lot of effort to accommodate each of us students. So, I advise every prospective student to be focused while at Kul IN but don’t forget to enjoy every day of your study because you probably won’t have a chance like this again in your life.
If you want to take Liliia's advice, click here and read more information about our Culinary Arts program.
Liliia's instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jellybeanns/
Liliia's blog: https://unboudedworld.wordpress.com/