An Impossible Task?

Constantly striving to learn and discover new flavours from all over the world, that will be my motto. However, I was too busy looking "outside" that I've forgotten about the problems that I faced here. I have now made Croatia my home and I've totally ignored what obstacles I have to overcome.

What is the problem here? First of all, I've been active in forums and asking the questions to the expats and locals regarding that lack of interest in foreign cuisine (anything other than Croatian). Many have happily explained that the older generation did not travel much and thus lack of exposure. The younger generation has a lack of disposable income to try any exotic flavours.

I accepted the above argument. I was totally appalled by the scorns on the face of locals when I presented them with a dish that I've created. Well.. I wasn't even asking them to sample Singapore food, mind you. Seems to me that even other european varieties are being picked at here. French, Spanish or Portuguese? Dutch, Norwegian or any of the Skandies' cuisine? No way, my dear friends. It's hard to break the mould and even tougher to educate.

Initially I came here with the hopes of setting up a F&B establishment that introduces new flavours to the locals but now that dream seems far away. There is a reason why there are no foreign restaurants in Croatia. Because the locals refused to accept it.

Should I give up? Or keep on trying?


uncommon said...

"It's hard to break the mould and even tougher to educate."


Remember that you are coming into a country that has been told what was good for it for generations: and a lot of the influences there came from Russia, and the bear tends not to take prisoners.

They're only about ten years or so into a new existence, no wonder they are a bit nervous of foreign influence: all it has ever done for them in the past is oppress them.

"F&B establishment"

F & B?

"Because the locals refused to accept it."

That is their right it is their money they are spending:)

"Should I give up? Or keep on trying?"

Short answer is that anyone innovating is going to have a hard time: and secondly, if you want to be successful in biz: you have to supply the punters with what they want to pay for.

From what I understand of you Singaporeans, not only do you all seem to be highly intelligent and adaptable creatures, you have a creative attitude toward food, viz Amsie and the variety.

Its hard to get that across in Europe: we're just a different society, used to eating stodge and garbage.

My advice, is...supply them with what they want, but make it better than anyone else does, so they trust you: with food, consistency is crucial. Then introduce the occasional delight from your international experience.

Small steps, you'll get there. I have great faith in you.


C K said...

It's really difficult especially in a society that is closed to outside influence. Perhaps if you persist enough, you'll be known as the first person who import a foreign cruisine into mainsteam Croatia.

Take heart, my friend!

TheGrumpyChef said...

Give up??? Never give up. Go for your dream. Remember, if you have got them by their balls, the hearts and minds tend to follow! I have the same problem here in the UK. My patrons are very set in their ways and it has taken almost a year to educate a minority of them. Go get them! There are so many ways to entice and intrigue customers. We are Chefs! We don't give up! You CAN do it.

SheR. said...

First of all, thanks a lot for all the encouragement!!! *big hugs to all* I was really on the verge of giving up and leaving...

>>Brendan mate. I like your suggestion. Introduce other cuisine slowly but first I have to win their trust in my cuisine. I'll consider that!!!! :D

I was thinking along the lines of cafe, bakery, food outlets (not fast food)..

>>CK!!! Terima Kasih! :)
I will keep on bumping my head against that rigid wall of the Croats. One day that wall will crumble!!1 I won't be first but I will really happy to at least try!

>>Chef! Hello!!
Yes.. Chefs don't give up. We are the toughest and most stubborn lot of human beings! ;)

TheGrumpyChef said...

brendan the uncommon has hit the nail on the head. Work with Croatian Cuisine the way people like Marco and Heston and the like do here in the UK. Add your own unique style to the regional dishes. As Im sure you know, even a tweak on their current presentation can bring people out of their culinary comas.
: )

SheR. said...

Wow ! Salute the Chef! :)

Syari said...

Hungary must have once been like that, though there are more and more foreign restaurants here.

As you said about the Croatians, even the older generation here wouldn't accept other kinds of food accept their own. My fil wouldn't even try my cooking. He finds it strange to use cinnamon for curry. When they only use for pastries here.

Oh well, give em time.

My Bug Life said...

I'll say keep on trying and don't give up...you never know when that break comes and these ppl may just open up..:D

DineometerDeb said...

I personally would KILL to have a Singaporean restaurant in my town. Or French. Or Spanish.

But your dilema is the point to my blog also. I hope to spread information on different types of food so that people get out of their ruts eating the same old things, at the same old chain restaurants. So I guess it is an issue in the US too.

I don't know anything about Croatia or Croatians but I will say that in the US, the most unique restaurants are found near the Universities, where people tend to be feeling more exploratory I guess.

Yes, I agree, give the customer what they are wanting, but there is always room to expose people to new ideas and inovation. Surely that can also be the case in Croatia too?

Good luck Sher, I'm rooting for you!

SheR. said...

>>Syari sayang thanks for dropping by to give me some kind words.

Croatia is still struggling after the years of war and rebuilding. Now they are struggling to squeeze into the EU. Everyone who is EU national or foreign to Croatia hopes that Croatia gets into EU soon. So that they can be exposed to more foreign influences. But like a local told me yesterday, he wished they'd never come.

We'll see..

SheR. said...

>>Shutter buggie!!!
I really do hope that will happen one day. It's happening really slowly in the capital. Perhaps.. perhaps..

>>Hello Dineometer!!!
Haven't seen you on my site in a while :P
Is that true for US? But I always thought the Americans are pretty adventurous with food? Sushi for lunch, Mexican for dinner and perhaps a Chinese takeaway for supper? I've seen a foreign restaurant just about every corner in San Francisco myself.

It's quite hard for me to understand how it is hard to accept any foreign influence where I come from. In Singapore, all our cuisines are a mixture of the influences from various cultures. Not the most authentic that you'll get in Italy or France but I say we love new things all the time. So I guess everyone here can understand why my constant grumbling about the lack of it over here now :P