The idea is that I introduce something new, culinary-wise, to the family business once I have completed the program. I will introduce a couple of new dishes to the menu and upgrade the existing ones.
Our new Kul IN alumna Emina comes from the neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina. Enrolling in the Culinary Arts program at Kul IN was a way to help Emina and her family improve their family restaurant and agrotourism but it became much more. After the program, Emina got an internship at the Michelin-star restaurant Atelje in Ljubljana, where she soaked up valuable experience and tips to help her upgrade her own family business in the future. Read how she plans to apply what she has mastered on the program, whether she will remain true to Bosnian cuisine and what her plans are for her future career.
Kul IN: Were you always interested in the food industry?
- I was not one of those who always knew they wanted to become a chef. After graduating from high school, I majored in economics but soon realized that I was not interested in the field and decided to pursue culinary arts instead. That came as a logical career path considering we have our family business and restaurant.
Kul IN: What is the main idea of your restaurant?
- We are in the agrotourism business and own a family restaurant 5 km from Baščaršija in Sarajevo. In our restaurant, we have a kitchen that is well equipped, but until now, we did not know how to make use of all its capacity and capabilities. It all started with family get-togethers, parents made traditional Bosnian parties for friends in our household and soon enough people started gathering more and more often, so the transformation from the family kitchen to the family restaurant came organically. We serve Bosnian traditional cuisine, this is our priority and we do not have a big menu, but a couple of original dishes, beloved in Bosnia and Herzegovina. My dad, sister and I work at the restaurant, and we also have a cook who makes traditional pies. There is room for improvement because we only started the restaurant three years ago. Until then we owned an equestrian club, but in recent years we have turned more towards agrotourism and restaurant business.
Kul IN: Are you going to apply the knowledge you acquired on the program in real life?
- I had no experience or contact with cooking in a professional setting before enrolling in the Culinary Arts program at Kul IN; I would cook just for my family, what we do on the program is completely different. The idea is that I introduce something new, culinary-wise, to the family business once I have completed the program. I will introduce a couple of new dishes to the menu and upgrade the existing ones. In the future, I would love to have my own restaurant in the city. I would focus on a more contemporary approach to traditional cuisine there. My dad also took up cooking for the restaurant and says he regrets not making it his calling sooner. Still, he wanted me to take the business to a higher level. I do not want to change the concept of the restaurant, just give a more contemporary flair to traditional Bosnian dishes and elevate the restaurant to a higher level. Of course, some dishes cannot be changed, e.g. pies have to be pies and there is no room for maneuvering. So, my long-term plan is to open a restaurant in the city where I would continue to entertain the guests with Bosnian cuisine but in a different and contemporary way. Kul IN gave me many ideas and confidence.
Kul IN: Which memories from Kul IN will stay with you forever?
- Well, the most interesting thing was when we hosted guest chefs, especially Jorg Zupan and Piero Di Turi, although pasta and risotto are not exactly my favorite. I'm interested in different compounds, new flavors. I also liked the practice at KIK, we were constantly working and improving if something was not good. The friendships I made here will also stick with me, of course, everyone was great, and I almost don't want to go back to “reality”. I will miss my colleagues very much because we got along great. Work Is also easier when you are in good company - we laugh, we work, we laugh again, and repeat.
Kul IN: Do you have any advice for those who are hesitant about enrolling in the program?
- I would definitely enroll again!
Kul IN: Do you feel ready to step into the restaurant kitchen after the program, have you gained the confidence you need?
- Yes, I have the confidence, security and everything I need to feel confident in the family restaurant. However, I have to carefully study the tastes and expectations of our target audience, I have to figure out how to approach them but I always have some ideas!