Coca-Cola HBC Croatia raises quality of Croatia’s gastronomy scene through Raise the Bar

1. September 2020.

Raise the Bar project gives young gastronomy talents the chance to expand their knowledge at prestigious schools

Over the last few years, we have witnessed the growing progress and success of Croatia’s gastronomy scene. This is also supported by the fact that we have seven restaurants bearing Michelin stars and as many as 53 are being recommended by Michelin. Although the coronavirus epidemic has hit the hospitality sector particularly hard, there is no lack of efforts and desire for further progress and improvement.

With its Raise the Bar project, Coca-Cola HBC Croatia is striving to support the progress and success of our gastronomy scene. Through the Raise the Bar scholarships Coca-Cola HBC Croatia awards to young gastronomy prospects, i.e. chefs, pastry chefs and waiting staff in restaurants, scholarships for training at the world’s best schools. Last year it awarded joint scholarships together with the Budi Foodie Foundation, while this year it intends to use its own foundation to make it possible for talents to improve their knowledge.

Tibor Valinčić is one of three winners of last year’s joint scholarships by Coca-Cola’s Raise the Bar project and the Budi Foodie Foundation. He went to Italy in October last year to train at the prestigious Intrecci Alta Formazione Academy. Tibor quickly adapted to the demanding work schedule and decided to make full use of his stay at the academy.

„Our schedule is always the same from Monday to Friday and the tasks are all very well timed. Classes start at 8.30 am, with a lunch break at 1 pm, followed by more classes until 6 pm. In the evenings, we all have dinner together from 8 to 9 pm. Although the rhythm is intense, we all love this job, so it’s not hard for us,” claims Tibor. The intense rhythm continues on weekends, which participants spend travelling to events or dinners at which they work, gathering experience and making new acquaintances.

Unfortunately the coronavirus epidemic, which hit Italy particularly hard at the beginning of the year, temporarily put a stop to Tibor’s training plans and he has been back in Croatia since the beginning of March as classes were suspended. He spent his quarantine participating in online lectures to stay in touch with his colleagues and he plans to return to school soon.

He is already working on ideas for the future after he graduates from the academy. “I’m working on my plans after returning from school. I started working on a project to open my own restaurant in Bjelovar and this project is still being developed, we will see how the situation will develop. It is really difficult to talk about opening a new restaurant at a time when existing restaurants are fighting for survival and for every guest, but I never give up and I hope for better times ahead of us,” he concludes decisively.

Tibor has always known that he wanted to be a chef and it is this desire and dedication that push him forward in challenging times. “I cooked the first surprise lunch for my parents when I was seven. Somehow I was constantly gravitating towards that and when I was 17 I entered the world of professional cooking for the first time in Boškinac. I started working during the summer, which turned out to be the right decision,” he recalls.

„To all those who are reading this, particularly those for whom cooking is their life’s calling, continue doing what you love because especially now every moment of happiness is important and work is one of the more important generators of our happiness. Raise the Bar scholarships open many doors and opportunities, so whoever has the opportunity should apply!” says Tibor, who is looking forward to returning to the academy soon.

Apart from the scholarships, Coca-Cola HBC Croatia also established through the Raise the Bar project its own academy for waiters, bartenders and baristas at a modern training center, where participants have the chance to develop their know-how and skills needed for quality work in the hospitality industry. Coca-Cola HBC Croatia also intends to raise the quality of the workforce in the hospitality sector through cooperation with regional competence centers for tourism, to which it makes available its know-how, expertise, advice and curriculum.

Applications for Raise the Bar scholarships will start in the fall and all information about the upcoming activities of this comprehensive socially responsible program can be found on the project’s website and FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn pages.