The Raise the Bar program was launched by Coca-Cola HBC Croatia with the aim of increasing workforce quality in tourism and the hospitality industry. This comprehensive project consists of three project pillars: the Raise the Bar Academy intended for waiters, bartenders and baristas, Raise the Bar scholarships intended for chefs, pastry chefs and waiting staff in restaurants, and cooperation with competence centers.
The project was launched in 2019, when as many as three young gastronomy hopes – Nikolina Putica, Marina Levak and Tibor Valičnić – were given the opportunity to make use of the scholarships jointly provided by the Raise the Bar project and the Budi Foodie Foundation to train at the world’s most prestigious schools. Nikolina brushed up her culinary skills at Le Cordon Bleu in Istanbul, Tibor had the chance to learn about restaurant management at the Intrecci Alta Formazione Academy, while Marina Levak developed her confectionery skills at Ecole Nationale superieure de patissierie – Ducasse & Thuries. They all agree that the scholarships provided them with an unforgettable experience that they fondly remember.
As of this year, the Raise the Bar project has its own foundation through which it will award scholarships to the future hopes of Croatia’s hospitality industry. Marina, Nikolina and Tibor unanimously agree and encourage all those who are interested to apply, and here are some reasons why you should do so:
1. To advance your culinary or confectionery skills
Raise the Bar scholarships facilitate training at the world’s most prestigious schools such as Le Cordon Bleu. The schools to which we send scholarship holders have a long tradition and although demanding, their programs aim to encourage excellence. “Our schedule is always the same from Monday to Friday and our obligations are very well-timed. Classes start at 8.30 am with a lunch break at 1 pm, followed by more lectures until 6 pm. In the evening we have a joint dinner from 8 to 9 pm. Despite the demanding pace, we all love this job, so it’s not hard for us,” points out Tibor.
2. To get to know other cultures, people and cuisines
The value that scholarship holders gain by participating in the project goes far beyond developing and expanding their technical skills. By going to another country and city, scholarship holders also have the chance to learn about different cultures and to expand their horizons, which helps them to develop as a person and to develop creativity in cooking. Nikolina fondly remembers her stay in Istanbul: “Living in a big city such as Istanbul brings with it new possibilities. I had the opportunity to experience their culture, which enriched me as a person. I particularly remember the new acquaintances I made.”
3. To get to know yourself and your own cooking style
By broadening our horizons and getting to know other cultures, we also get to know ourselves, we learn how to be more independent and resourceful in new environments, which are all skills that come in handy when starting your own business or looking for employement and, of course, in the kitchen. The more we experience, the more we know and the better we recognize what suits us and where we are in all this.
4. To help to advance Croatia’s hospitality sector
Croatia as a tourist destination has a lot to offer, but there is the problem of an insufficiently qualified workforce in the hospitality sector. The main objective of Raise the Bar is to improve the service quality in the hospitality and tourism industry and the scholarship winners are part of this positive change. With their international experience they can contribute to the diversity of Croatia’s gastronomic offer and raise the service quality in restaurants to a new level.
5. To surround yourself with excellence
The people and situations we surround ourselves with and the experiences we have greatly affect us as individuals, but also as professionals. If we surround ourselves with excellence, we are more likely to strive for it ourselves. By training at a prestigious gastronomy academy, scholarship holders encourage their own excellence and acquire knowledge and skills that will set them apart from the competition, facilitate greater creativity in business and encourage them to further expand their knowledge.
6. To increase your chances of employment or start something of your own
Raise the Bar scholarship candidates have a lot in common: a passion for their job, the motivation and desire to improve their own knowledge, the courage and willingness to step out of their comfort zone and a desire to succeed. These are all characteristics that will help them to find employment, to distinguish themselves from other candidates and to launch their own initiatives. Scholarship winners will also have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills at one of the world’s best gastronomy schools!
7. Because it is an unforgettable experience through which you gain much more than knowledge
And finally, the entire process is a truly unforgettable experience that will greatly contribute to the knowledge, readiness, motivation and self-confidence of the candidates. While applying, candidates will realize what their strengths and weaknesses are, they will have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills to renowned Croatian chefs and if they win a scholarship, they will be able to expand their knowledge and be better prepared for the future. They will also have the chance to get to know new people and other cultures and to test themselves and their readiness for challenges. “Nothing goes away overnight and everything requires patience. I have always been a dreamer, so I want to say to all those interested in the Raise the Bar scholarship program to dare to be those who dream. Although at first many things seem impossible or unrealizable, you have to believe in yourself and be patient. Don’t hesitate to apply, simply do it because fortune favors the brave,” Marina Levak, one of last year’s scholarship winners, concludes optimistically.
Applications for Raise the Bar scholarships are open until January 31. To apply, candidates must be of age, have at least one year of work experience in the hospitality sector and complete the form on the project’s website.
The selection process will take place in the first quarter of 2021 and will consist of technical knowledge testing, psychological testing and an interview.
More information about the project can be found on the project’s official website and its Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn pages.