Croatia’s hospitality industry learns about new trends.
The second Coca-Cola HBC Adria HoReCa Conference was held at the Kaptol Boutique Cinema&Bar in Zagreb, which brought together about 200 Croatian caterers and Coca-Cola partners in Croatia. In order to provide insight into the current global and regional trends in the catering industry and additional training, as well as to inspire Croatian caterers, the HoReCa Conference again offered a rich programme and first-rate lecturers.
One of the best presentations was made by Nikos Bakoulis, a co-owner of the globally popular bar The Clumsies in Athens, which was last year ranked 6th on a prestigious list of 50 best bars in the world. Equally interesting were the lectures given by Rudolf Štefan from Pelegrini in Šibenik, which was recently awarded a Michelin star, as well as architect Duje Kaliterna, who designed numerous Croatian hotels and restaurants.
The Clumsies is a favorite all-day bar in Athens opened in late 2014 which, thanks to its unique offer and creative approach, has achieved a striking success and is considered one of the best bars in the world. It completely changes its offer at least once a year, with an emphasis on originality and local ingredients.
Nikos Bakoulis, a co-founder of the most popular bar in Athens, explained its success. “If you want to be successful, you need to keep up with global trends and continually learn, but you also have to explore and build your unique identity. It is of the utmost importance to appreciate your local origins and the local environment. Therefore, fresh local ingredients, such as mastic or Greek fennel, are in the centre of the growth of the bar scene in Athens, enabling us to create unique and intense flavours. In Greece, just like in Croatia, there are fresh local ingredients, such as natural plants, fruits and vegetables, and we use them as much as we can. Only 3% of ingredients come from imports. Although we have managed to position ourselves among the best in our business in just a few years, there is a lot of effort behind over success. Our motto is ‘There is no lift that leads to success, you must use the stairs.’ For me, the job of a bartender is artistry, because you have to continually look for inspiration in everything which surrounds you, whether it is architecture, culture, art, restaurants, drinks… The Clumsies believes that interaction between guests and bartenders is as significant as creating a unique cocktail or gastronomic experience. You must know how to promote new things and encourage your guests to try new flavours and aromas.”
Similar messages were sent by Rudolf Štefan, the owner and the chef of the Pelegrini restaurant in Šibenik which this year, after receiving numerous Croatian awards, got its first Michelin star. “The Michelin star was not a goal in itself for us. It is only a welcome acknowledgment and another confirmation of the validity of our concept, but we have to fight every day for the confirmation of it from our guests. It is necessary to learn, to invest in yourselves and have a passion for work. Just like colleagues from The Clumsies, I think it is essential to promote local ingredients. Our country and this region abound with ingredients and offer possibilities for a myriad of combinations; we just need a little creativity. Thanks to this, our gastronomy can develop its own identity which can attract the even greater attention of the world, thus additionally enriching the tourist offer and bringing us more guests out of the main tourist season, all year long,” said Štefan.
Prominent Croatian architect Duje Kaliterna, who has designed the interiors of numerous successful hotels, restaurants, clubs and cafes, such as St. Joseph’s Hotel, Port 9 Resort on Korčula, Hotel Korčula De La Ville, Gil’s Restaurant in Dubrovnik, The Room and Plaza Bar in Zagreb, Nautica Bar and Pink Champagne on Hvar, Bellevue Hotel in Orebić and Central Night Club, spoke about trends in design of catering and tourist facilities.
“I approach each project by trying to devise a special story for each venue. Whether it is a homage to a time period and personalities or just a play with materials, colours, and textures – I always look for something that will give it uniqueness and authenticity. It is important that the venue has an original touch and its own soul, and cannot be compared to any other venue. Today, first and foremost, we all seek experiences and want to enjoy with all our senses. Decorating the interior is as important as the food concept in a restaurant because every detail forms the ultimate guest experience. It is not necessary that there should be a large budget behind every good project. Sometimes just small changes, with a few details or colour, can change the overall impression,” Kaliterna said.
After the guest-speakers’ speeches, Coca-Cola representatives presented current trends in the Adria region, as well as new initiatives in the local HoReCa market. “The HoReCa channel is fundamental to us, and therefore we are continuously working on its development. In addition to developing and enriching the offer of our products, we strive to build a partnership with our clients that is broader than just sales. We believe that the success of our partners is just as important as our own success, and therefore we use events like this conference to help them develop their business. Catering is a very dynamic sector that needs to follow trend changes and constantly adjust to new expectations and consumer preferences since guests are become increasingly demanding. This is especially important for our country where tourism is one of the main industries,” said Ruža Tomić Fontana, CEO of Coca-Cola HBC for Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
After the official part of the event, the participants had the opportunity to enjoy a Schweppes Masterclass and learn more about the new techniques, materials and ingredients in the preparation and presentation of cocktails.