Developing My Food Project – A Story from Texas


I knew a lot of the techniques before I came to Kul IN, but it was nice having chef Zdravko, someone who has the knowledge, someone who can look at something and see that my oil is too hot, somebody that can guide you along. That is something that you can't get when studying online.



The Kul IN alumnus Zachary Vollentine comes from the great plains of Texas. He has always loved food, pasta in particular has a special place in his heart. He was determined to upgrade his skills and love for the process of preparation, so he chose to take his passion to a professional level at Kul IN. The countless possibilities that culinary arts offers and the joy of people after trying his food inspire him to this day. This ambitious 21-year-old is not afraid to push the boundaries of gastronomy, though. Namely, he wants to start his own business but instead of opening a traditional restaurant, Zach plans to get a traveling one, a food truck! Read the interview to find out more about this unique concept, Zach's style of cooking, and his overall casual, outdoorsy vibe.


Kul IN: Can you tell us more about your background culinary journey? When did you become interested in food preparation?

- I had always been an outdoorsman – I loved picking berries, catching fish. Also, I was homeschooled from 3rd grade and did everything school-wise online. That meant I had time for cooking - I was always making my food, and I can say that cooking has shaped me to be who I am now. My first memories regarding the kitchen are cooking with my mother, making Béarnaise, and throwing butter while standing on a chair. I always knew I wanted to be a chef.

Kul IN: Why did you choose Kul IN as the place of education of your choice?

I wanted to travel; I had never been outside of the US before. Also, I have a friend here who lives in Zagreb. I have known him for seven years, and he told me Croatia was a beautiful and safe country with a rich history, which got me interested. I had already been looking for a culinary school that would be right for me. I and my mother were independently researching online and found Kul IN the same day. I looked around for a few months before I decided to take a plunge. Regarding the application process, Srdjana from Kul IN's New York Office was very helpful. She guided me through the whole process. The Office had just opened and I might have been the first person to contact them. All in all, Kul IN seemed like a smart choice – it was affordable, it had an interesting program, I saw the school was situated in a nice, safe town, etc. I was going through the promotional material and I was very excited when I finally decided to take the plunge and move here for two months.

Kul IN: What are your expectations after the program? How will it help you advance your career or achieve your goals?

I'm hoping to start my own business, I want to start my pasta-based food truck when I return to Texas. This high-stress environment will help me become more than just a home chef. Food trucks are the new thing in America, they are based on a sustainable idea - you don't have to pay rent, you are very mobile, e.g. I can relocate and go to an antique fair that brings in a lot of people to my county every year. It is a fun, challenging concept, I will have to figure out how to store pasta making machine in a truck, though!

Kul IN: What does a typical day of a Kul IN student look like?

I guess our circumstances are a bit different since we have a global pandemic going on. Basically, we get up and hang out before our classes. We usually talk and drink coffee. Then, we are sufficiently refreshed and ready to go to the practicum! At Kul IN, we prepare different dishes, depending on the topic for that week. After the practicum, we have lunch at Kul IN, and finish anything that needs finishing. After lunch, we have wine classes or practice. After, we go home and hang out some more, just enjoy each other's company, watch a movie and go to bed!

Kul IN: Can you measure your progress?

I knew a lot of the techniques before I came to Kul IN, but it was nice having chef Zdravko, someone who has the knowledge, someone who can look at something and see that my oil is too hot, somebody that can guide you along. That is something that you can't get when studying online.

Kul IN: What has been your favorite lesson?

Pasta, of course!

Kul IN: What motivates you?

You only have one life, so don't get stuck in a rut. Just sitting around doesn't do anything. I enjoy seeing people enjoy my food - I love giving people my food and seeing the empty plate afterward. You spread love, everyone has to eat and I might as well make it a fun experience.

Kul IN: How would you describe your style of cooking?

Rustic, hand made looking, simplicity done correctly. I also enjoy Italian cuisine and style.

Kul IN: Three qualities of every good chef?

Passion, enjoyment of cooking, dedication

Kul IN: Advice for future Kul IN students from the US?

It's cool, as someone who had not left the US before I came to Croatia, I didn't even experience cultural shock.

Kul IN: How did you like Sisak?

People are wonderful, and the scenery is very familiar. The forests here are similar to forests in Texas, actually, but the weather is much hotter in Texas. Sisak is a very homey feeling town.

Kul IN: How would you describe Croatia to Americans?

Croatia is a small, safe country, full of natural beauty, friendly people, and good food. Oh, and prepare to eat a lot of meat!


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