Chef`s Stage Report -  the student`s perspective on getting the real, hands-on experience

by Tatiana Kulbaka

April 3, 2019

At RIT Croatia we do not only talk the talk, but we really walk the walk. And once the real hands-on experience is promised, our professors are ready to go as many extra miles as needed to provide the students with the best opportunities to get one… even if it means waking up at the crack of dawn and driving for three hours to another city. And while it may sound like an intriguing beginning for some fantasy movie, I am about to share the real story about the event I was privileged to visit.

A couple of days ago, four RIT Croatia students – Kaitlin D`Costa, Tamara Radulović, Tanya Kulbaka (me :) ) and Filip Stanišić were invited to visit the "Chef`s Stage" event that took place in Šibenik. For sure, all four of us were not just randomly selected: the previous semester we managed to achieve the high GPA level and, thus, our efforts were not only recognized but also rewarded. On the day of the event, we were accompanied by Professor Domagoj Nikolić and we hit the road around 6 A.M. Around 10 A.M., we reached Šibenik and then the whole program started. But before I reveal more details about this event and our experience, I would like to tell about the concept of the "Chef`s Stage" as well as its hosts and organizers.

So, "Chef`s Stage" may be seen as the life project of the renowned chef Rudolf Štefan, who recognized the lack of the alike project in Croatia. There was a need for such an event with the purpose of promoting Croatian gastronomy, encouraging dialogue on the topic of gastronomic heritage in general, defining the vision and trends as well as the problems that accompany the catering scene in Croatian region. But most importantly, there was a need to create a platform that will encourage the exchange of experiences, socializing and learning. All of the above mentioned factors became the inspiration to create this ambitious and quite demanding project. Some of the most eminent guests of the world's gastronomic scene were invited to participate in the project. Among them, the representatives from New York to China, Russia, and Turkey; as well as some European colleagues coming from Italy, Austria, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, and certainly important colleagues came from Slovenia and Serbia.

Of course, many Croatian chefs, sommeliers, restaurant managers, hoteliers, and all those who make the Croatian catering scene are actively involved in the project as well. This year "Chef`s Stage" offered quite a vibrant program that consisted of 3 masterclasses, workshops, 6 gala dinners, panel discussions, and the grand tasting lunch. Being that none of my student colleagues (me included) possess any of the culinary talents, we got a chance to participate and listen to the panel discussions only and indulge our stomachs during the grand tasting lunch. We had a chance to try the dishes that were made by chefs working in the Michelin starred restaurants! It was an unforgettably palatable experience!

But even though the "Chef`s Stage" presupposes stomach party, we did manage to get food for our brain as well. During the panel discussions, we managed to acquire some insights into the new trends as well as the current challenges of the hospitality and tourism industry. It is really valuable for us, as far as we are currently taking the Food and Travel course and we got an excellent opportunity to apply the gained knowledge. At the same time, as a result of these panel discussions, we have become more knowledgeable and now we participate in the classes even more actively.

All in all, "Chef`s Stage " is a great hospitality bound event, that has its significance for chefs, Croatian region and students. As far as my colleagues and I are still students, we would like to share our opinions on why this event is totally worth visiting (from the students` perspective):

Filip Stanišić: "It was the honor for me to be the part of the "Chef`s Stage". Apart from listening to some of the quite useful panel discussions, we had the opportunity to try some delicious food samples"!

Kaitlin D`Costa:" The "Chef`s Stage" was a wonderful experience letting us witness the evolving Croatian gastronomy. We got to taste local ingredients, attend informative panel discussions and establish some connections with the world-renowned chefs. So privileged to be a part of the event"!

Tamara Radulović: "It was a pleasure to be present at the event like that. I believe it will be very useful in our future education. This event has definitely helped me to expand my horizons and get closer to modern cuisine and fine dining scene. Not only we learned a lot, but we did also have a lot of fun"!

As for me, I truly believe, this event is a must visit for all students like us, because it helps to realize the importance of nurturing the culinary talents as well as keeps the hospitality professionals updated. And even though sometimes it can be easy to get confused, because the language of gastronomy and culinary world is not that easy, just take the position of the observer: look into the eyes of these chefs. These culinary geniuses are ruled by passion and love towards what they are doing. So, once you decide to visit, be aware that the events like "Chef`s Stage" can become a great venue to get infected with enthusiasm and real love for your vocation.


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