The Culinary Arts program paved the way for Hrvoje's new career, which was only a hobby for him while he was in college. Read how Hrvoje Gjurkinjak combined his business skills with his newly acquired culinary skills and opened a restaurant immediately after completing his education at Kul IN.
Studying At Kul IN
Kul IN: Which lesson was your favorite?
- Pasta – it is simple, fast, delicious. With a good mise en place, a million things can be done. I liked Italian cuisine more than the French way of cooking, there are no complex techniques or heavy sauces.
Kul IN: What are you making for the final exam?
- I have a Mediterranean theme, so for the main course I will make a side dish first - I will prepare polenta to which I will add sage heated in butter. The sage will release the juice, and the polenta will have a fragrant sage aroma. Then, I will fry the duck breast in a pan, and finish it in the oven. I will cover the duck breast with rosemary, thyme, and garlic, add some prosecco and orange juice and season the dish a bit. It will be a great orange sauce - duck loves orange, and it will have an unmistakable Mediterranean flair. The salad will be young cabbage which I will blanch, carrots glazed in butter, and for the crunchy component, I will add barley which I will cook, then steep in hot oil to make it crispy. Everything will be served on a black plate. I will treat the duck breast with the sous vide method, remove the skin, vacuum it, and process it at 57 degrees. I'll put the skin in the oven to make chips and add them to the salad. My goal is to use the ingredients to their full potential.
Kul IN: What makes a good chef?
- Creativity, knowledge, speed, and leadership mindset. A good chef should know how to delegate efficiently and be a leader rather than just a boss - treat people with respect. In addition to culinary skills, chefs should also have management skills. They are almost as important as the culinary ones because no one does this job solely out of love, we have to think about the profit as well. Also, it is good that they have knowledge about wines, which is very important now.
Kul IN: Advice for potential students?
- They need to understand that the Kul IN programs are not like a masterclass. They will not stand and watch but will work as if they were in a real-life restaurant kitchen - from washing dishes to preparation and cooking. Mistakes must not discourage you, chef Zdravko is strict but realistic, he points out the mistakes, and you need to accept them and learn from them. I also advise you to read the study materials that go with the program and learn as much as possible while you are at Kul IN.
Opening My Own Restaurant
Kul IN: You opened your gourmet pizzeria shortly after completing the Culinary Arts program, tell us more about that
- Everything started from the desire to offer a good, light, and quality pizza in Croatia. A friend was studying different methods of dough-making, and I’m in charge of flavors and toppings. The dough is fermented for 48 hours. We have a supplier who brings us everything seasonally and we are super happy about that. We also make sauces and toppings that go great with pizzas and so far all the guests are satisfied. Once the fall is here, we plan to add risotto and pasta to the menu.
Kul IN: How did the experience from Kul IN help you in making your business successful?
- The experience from Kul IN helped me a lot in arranging the menu and organizing the kitchen. It was at Kul IN that I adopted and realized the importance of mise en place, which is very important in pizza-making.
Kul IN: Favorite pizza from the menu?
- My favorite pizza is Alla Bresaola, i.e., pizza with beef prosciutto, arugula, parmesan, and aceto balsamico glaze.
Kul IN: When did you start showing interest in cooking?
- I have been cooking since I was a child - meat, pancakes, muffins, you name it. I started cooking on a more serious level while I was in college because I didn't like eating in the student canteen, so I started researching more, I loved cooking, I studied restaurants ...
Kul IN: Do you have a favorite cuisine?
- Mediterranean cuisine and flavors of South America are my favorite. Nothing too complicated, I don't like when the main food item is suffocated in too many techniques, I prefer light, high-quality, fresh dishes.
Kul IN: What do you like to cook at home?
- Risotto, and pasta because I don't have much time for big preparations. I always have some stock on hand from the soups I make, so I freeze them and cook with them later.