The idea of ‘make something’ or succeed outside of the homeland was always a guarantee of quality. That’s what we are – unfortunately. We do not appreciate the achievements that start in Croatia. Why is that so? Because we are a small country or what? Lately, things getting changed with Rimac. Finally.
Our story is about the other one – his nickname might be DELIKROAT. He is Mario Harapin. 🙂
croatia2go: Mario, congratulations. The idea has become a reality, and more. DELIKROAT is a story of Croatian gastronomy, cuisine, and fantastic and unique products from Croatia.
How did you come up with the idea? You’ve been a chef, a highly sought-after profession in Croatia, and come to Austria?
Mario Harapin: I was on a business trip in Vienna, working for a food-producing company, trying to sell our product abroad. I realized that in Austria (Vienna) is a deficit of delicatessen products, especially from Croatia and the Austrians are familiar with the quality of our food. As many Croatians live here, I saw the opportunity and moved very quickly to Austria to start the business.
croatia2go: There are always people who point us to something. Who’s yours?
Mario Harapin: My wife was one of the key factors to move here since her brother is here, her uncles and grandparents. She instantly loved the idea; even, she wasn’t my wife yet. It took us a long time before we got on our ‘feet’. Many people, even some economy experts here told us that we would hardly succeed. My wife was positive all the time, not me. She believed. And here we are 🙂
croatia2go: As Croatian and the author of the first mobile app of Croatian cuisine, I’d like to how famous is Croatian gastronomy in Austria?
Mario Harapin:: Croatian gastronomy is very well known here, and to my surprise, to Austrians, more than to our people living here. It surprises how much they know about Croatian winemakers, famous restaurants, national dishes. They know when is a truffle season, olive season, they are familiar with our autochthonous wines. I was pleasantly surprised.
croatia2go: A dear friend and great lover of Croatia, Ashley Colburn once said; Croatia has three advantages; food, food, and food. You share her opinion 🙂
Mario Harapin: Ashley is right (I follow her on social media), I would maybe add: climate and sea …
croatia2go: You are a chef, not a merchant and you have chosen delicacies, a familiar subject to you, and now you have a situation when you KNOW that something is excellent and on the other side of the counter is a ‘plain’ customer …
Mario Harapin: Hehe, I think I am not an ordinary merchant. I don’t know whether if that’s good or bad. Now, I sell about 300 different products in the assortment; a good deal of products are made by friends, relatives, neighbors, acquaintances so I can tell a story about most of the products. I had many tastings in front of the shop before I got the first buyers. Now, it goes smoothly. I get more customers daily, shops, restaurants, bars, even fast food and now we become the supplier for a luxury hotel.
croatia2go: Have you ever been in a position to ‘explain’ Croatian delicacies, highlighting quality? And uniqueness?
Mario Harapin: Almost daily. The Italian products are similar to ours, but when someone tells me that San Danielle is the best prosciutto, I just cut the slice of my prosciutto from Drniš. And that’s it. Discussion closed. Now, even some Italian restaurants and some shops buy prosciutto in my shop. Hehe. The products I have are quite rare, but that’s not an easy job to do. It requires a lot of hard work.
crotia2go: Croatian cuisine, especially this northern one has been influenced by culinary from Austro-Hungarian sides, like štrukli, ajnprenjuha, ajngemahtec … I’m sure that the main difference is in delicacies. Now you set some new limits offering original OPG products, therefore, ‘those’ flavors … perhaps even forgotten, in Western Europe.
Mario Harapin: Yes, it has an influence. There is no „štrukli“ here, there are no „mlinci (flatbread)“ (except in my shop), but the popularity of Austrian cuisine is decreasing. Austria’s shops are constantly closing, and Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese are getting opened … Shops with lighter food, chicken, lots of vegetables, soups are working better.
croatia2go: How many domestic, Croatian producers are approaching you today and offer their products?
Mario Harapin: Many producers want the foreign market, but some of them have limited production, and they sell all in Croatia. I’ve chosen some top-of-the-line products to represent, and we do a great job here, with a lot of resignation, effort, cool-headedness, 18 hours working days. Nothing comes overnight.
Once, I got an inquiry by a private buyer for 12 bottles of wine from one not so famous winery. I called the vintner to ask if he could send me those 12 bottles of expensive, supposedly good wine. The man sat in the car and came from Peljesac!!! He brought that wines, presented all his wines, and I remained amazed. His wines are great, the presentation as well, and since then Grgurevic wines are in my shop!
croatia2go: Apart from your delicacies shop „Delikroat“ in Vienna, you have a webshop, so you cover a large area. Can someone from Sweden order Croatian delicacies and you’ll send it to him?
Mario Harapin: I have a shop in the center of Vienna, wholesale, webshop and catering. I send products all over the EU.
croatia2go: What about markets?
Mario Harapin: That’s how I started, in my old Ford, I drove stand, tent, and goods to the markets for more than a year. Since I don’t go to the markets anymore, there are not a lot of Croatian products there.
croatia2go: Mario, your story, your work, is a mission. And it’s wonderful. I mean it, I’m proud of you and your promotion of Croatia.
Mario Harapin: Thank You!
croatia2go: If you continue this way, it will soon be a similar story to this one; The best fish you’ll find in Zagreb. Should we have to go to Vienna for the best? 🙂
However, I am sure that, under the ‘chef’s hat,’ (I believe put aside for now) there are some new ideas. I wish you a lot of success and do not keep us in the uncertainty for a long time. Croatia2go is all around us, and we will gladly share the news.
Mario Harapin: Regarding the fish, 200 m from me is an open fish market with the finest fish from Croatia, so you are not far from the truth. And – thank you for these kind words and wishes. Croatia2go is all around us. Right. Well said That’s exactly what I do! 🙂