Raise the Bar Scholarship

We finance the education of talented persons in the area of gastronomy at the best universities around the world. The scholarship is intended for chefs, confectioners and restaurant serving staff.

The scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to strengthen their knowledge and skills in areas that are crucial for the further development of the Croatian tourist and gastronomic offer, including their culinary techniques, management and restaurant innovations.

The personal approach applied to each candidate will allow the most suitable scholarships to be granted to candidates according to their profile and needs.

Expert jury

An expert jury consisting of renowned Croatian chefs – Hrvoje Zirojević, Marko Gajski, Igor Gudac and Bruno Vokal and manager and co-owner of restaurant Noel – Ivan Jug, as well as representatives of the Human Resources Department of Coca-Cola HBC Croatia and members of the Raise the Bar project participate in the selection of scholarship winner(s). Based on the criteria set for passing the technical knowledge, psychological testing and interviews the winner of the scholarship at one of the world’s most prestigious universities will be selected.


One of the best Croatian chefs was born in Split where he was introduced to the world of cooking at an early age by his mother and grandmother. Hrvoje can boast of an enviable culinary career as he has won many awards in Croatia as well as abroad. He won the Gault&Millau award in 2019 and won in the Cro Top 10. He also finished second in the world championship in Moscow. After working at the Laganini restaurant in Palmižana for the past 8 years, he embarked on new adventures at the Dvor restaurant in Split.


Marko Gajski is the head chef of the restaurant Lešić Dimitri, to which he brought a Michelin star in 2020. His career path was unusual and stands as a true reminder that with will, hard work and passion one can reach great success! Marko graduated from the Faculty of Organization and Informatics and then in 2011 participated in the Masterchef. After the participation in the Masterchef, Marko got the opportunity to go to Hvar where he spent hours, days and weeks of his career focusing on improving his knowledge – whether it was internship in restaurants, communicating with chefs and the like. Marko truly believes that with effort, hard work, learning and true inner motivation one can go a long way.


Igor Gudac is a peculiar chef who brings refreshment to the gastronomic scene with his innovative concepts. As a child he dreamed of becoming a football player, which is the reason he moved from Gorski Kotar to Rijeka and enrolled in a catering high school thinking that this was the best way to balance school with his football trainings. While attending the catering high school he fell in love with cooking and decided to dedicate his professional career to it. He worked in the cult fast food restaurant Pizza Cut Duck, which gained popularity among the Zagreb audience with its dedicated work and the concept of cooked snacks. Besides cooking, Igor engages in foraging and uses wild herbs in his kitchen. He is preparing some interesting collaborations in the future that will certainly intrigue the gastronomic scene.


Bruno Vokal, the head chef of restaurant Noel, is a young chef with a very impressive biography – he has worked in Dubrovnik’s restaurant 360, restaurant Wine Vault, restaurant Dubravkin put and with the world-famous chef Ducasse in London’s famous restaurant, The Dorchester, only to name a few. Bruno always knew he wanted to be a chef and has been cooking since a very young age. In his free time, when he’s not working, Bruno enjoys cooking, watching culinary shows and improving his knowledge along the way – this further proves how much cooking is woven into his DNA.

Croatian sommelier champion

Ivan Jug is a Croatian sommelier champion, the first Croatian certified sommelier for sake at the Sommelier’s Federation for sake (SSA) and the manager and co-owner of the Noel restaurant, the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Zagreb. Ivan was educated in the cooking department of a catering school. After three years of work in the profession, he retrained as a waiter. In 2011, he became one of the first sommeliers with a diploma from the Croatian Sommelier Club, which operates according to the standards of the International Sommelier Association (ASI). He is the winner of many recognitions and certificates, among which stands out the international diploma according to ASI standards, which is today owned by fewer than ten people in Croatia. With constant growth and development of his knowledge, Ivan has established himself as one of the key people in Croatian restaurants.

Raise the Bar Scholarships 2023

Stella Pasek, Nikola Tomašić, Tilen Utenkar, and Željka Bleuš have been selected as the esteemed recipients of the prestigious Raise the Bar scholarships in 2023. Out of a pool of over 60 applicants, these four outstanding individuals truly distinguished themselves with their exceptional culinary expertise, remarkable skills, and unwavering professionalism.
The scholarships were presented to them during a formal dinner marking the release of the Gault&Milau guide for the year 2023.
For more information about the scholarships click here.

Raise the Bar Scholarships 2022

Ante Kapović, Marija Prša, Monika Gubić, and Rok Smonkar are the recipients of the 2022 Raise the Bar scholarships. The scholarships were presented to them during a formal dinner held to mark the release of the Gault&Millau guide for 2022.
The scholarship recipients have chosen their prestigious culinary schools: Rok will attend ALMA in Italy, Ante and Monika will attend Le Cordon Bleu in Istanbul, and Marija has decided to enroll in Ecole Ducasse in Paris.

Raise the Bar Scholarships 2020/2021

The winners of Raise the Bar Scholarships for 2020/2021 have been selected! Grgo Bačelić, Tibor Klobičar and Matija Kuzmić are the lucky Raise the Bar scholarship winners for 2021. Grgo, Tibor and Matija will have the opportunity to further strengthen their knowledge on one of the most renewed culinary schools such as Le Cordon Bleu or Ecole Ducasse.
The scholarships were officially awarded on this year’s Gault&Millau guide for Croatia publishing event which was held on June 1, 2021.

Raise the Bar Scholarships 2019

In cooperation with the Budi Foodie foundation, at the International Gastronomy and Hospitality Congress Chefs’ Stage 2019 held in Šibenik, we awarded the first three scholarships to young talents in gastronomy and hospitality, thus opening doors for them to perfect their skills in the best programs around the world.

Nikolina Putica received a scholarship for culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu, Tibor Valinčić received a scholarship for restaurant management at Intrecci Alta Formazione Academy, and Marina Levak received a scholarship for confectionery at Ecole Nationale superieure de patissierie – Ducasse & Thuries.

Raise the Bar scholarship winner

Nikolina Putica received a scholarship for culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu.
“Coming to the Le Cordon Bleu academy and later doing my internship in Neolokal with Maksut Aksar was an important opportunity for my development since I had the chance to learn from the best. Winning this scholarship has shown me that hard work pays off. To all the young people with the ambition and desire to learn I would advise to apply as the scholarship can open new doors in their professional lives and help strengthen our gastro scene.”

Raise the Bar Scholarship winner

Tibor Valinčić received a scholarship for restaurant management at Intrecci Alta Formazione Academy.
“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!”

Raise the Bar Scholarship winner

Marina Levak received a scholarship for confectionery at Ecole Nationale superieure de patissierie – Ducasse & Thuries.
“Nothing goes away overnight and everything requires patience. I’ve always been a dreamer, so I want to tell all those interested in the Raise the Bar scholarship program to dare to dream. Although many things seems impossible or unrealizable at first, you should believe in yourself and be patient. Don’t hesitate to apply, simply do it because fortune favors the brave,”