Carmen is Croatia’s foreign entrepreneurs who are trying to make difference in Croatia. We personally loved the story of young Carmen Tomašić, who swapped the luxury gourmet scene in Sydney to help bring an additional touch of class to the island of Korčula!
Her father told her many interesting stories about the island, people and beautiful places in Korčula but she understood him completely the moment she visited the island! She felt a real sense of belonging and for her, it felt the way life should be…
Close communities, endless natural beauty, and people who are deeply in touch with nature are the things that actually do matter!
From that moment, Carmen continued to visit the famous tourist destination each year and the only thing that stopped her from staying in Korčula was to find a good job and to learn the language she learned over the years.
Last year she, fortunately, met Pero and her dreams come true. With Pero and the team, she hopes to create new opportunities and hope for people in Croatia! Pero is the owner of the group whose vision and goals for Korčula she admires so she found a project she’s been waiting for…
It is important to Carmen that whatever she does have a purpose. She loves Croatia and she wants to make a positive impact…and her experience of Sidney mixed with an understanding of local ways makes her an ideal candidate! Croatia has so much to offer and yet so many people are giving up on it and leaving, and if they go, so too does the culture and all the great things about Croatia. Hopefully, they will see some positive effects in the years to come says Carmen.
The opening of the Moro Beach Club at Stupe last summer raised the level of quality for Korčula, and her company has recently opened two more high-end hospitality outlets. Vrnik Arts Club opened a few weeks ago offers traditional Dalmatian style food. The restaurant is set in a refurbished school house, complete with a shop and art gallery. Like Moro, this venue is on a little island about ten minutes by speedboat from Korčula city. There are no cars there at all, but a small population of locals lives there for the summer months. It’s the perfect place to relax!
De Canavellis is fine dining offering in the old city of Korčula; headed up by executive chef Matija Bogdan (who previously worked at Michelin star restaurant, Ledbury in London). The menu showcases local produce, but in a more modern interpretation and setting. Moro offers a refined take on dalmatian food in a relaxed setting and a selection of amazing cocktails you can enjoy at the beach!
Carmen also shared her opinion about Croatian gastronomy. She is aware that the islands survive off tourism, so the question is really about how we best capture this market, rather than how do we try and recreate urban dining in this setting. She resists comparing it to Sidney because people seek for completely different things. People in big cities seek variety in dining as a relief from their daily grind while most of the tourists are seeking a real Croatian experience and they expect the freshest, highest quality, local ingredients – and that’s the key to success in this scene claims Carmen.
Fresh produce that Croatia has in abundance, long history of traditions with specific foods and methods of farming, fishing etc. is definitely an advantage but one problem is that many restaurants are trying to be everything for everyone instead they need to forge their own identity within the broad offering of Croatian cuisine.
Carmen also draws attention to the fact that we should think more about how we utilize food offerings. She points out how important it is to communicate what Croatia has to offer, through to how we ‘package’ and present it, The goal would be to lengthen the tourist season and make Croatia more known for gastronomic and agro-tourism, as well as for its historical value – shifting away from just the ‘summer sun and sea’ reputation it has.
The bigger issue is the quality of venues in Croatia and the overall art of hospitality rather than just the focus on gastronomy. Despite the fact that there are a number of excellent restaurants in Croatia, most venues aren’t actually appealing or stand out. Right atmosphere, furniture, music, lighting, design and warm hospitality are very important.
People need to FEEL good in a venue not just eat well. It’s a scientific fact after all, that our sense of taste is also influenced by psychological factors such as mood says Carmen.
The main reason why Moro achieved such a great success is the fact that the venue itself is just INCREDIBLE. It all makes a great experience with great food on top of that. Carmen thinks that the key to the scene growing is more of a focus on the overall guest experience, rather than simply on the food and drink. It is important to build foundations requested to present the food, serve it well, and to engage the right audience before extending our gastronomy offer! Tourists who choose Croatia came here to get the overall experience of eating well and they are looking for the connection, kind hosts, and want to learn about the culture – those are the things they cant’ just recreate in their own cities.