Zoran Stojanovic - SMOKE MASTER
We would like to give you an insight into the world of BALIK and introduce you to the people behind the scenes.
We start with our long-time employee and smoke master Zoran Stojanovic. What began more or less by chance over 33 years ago became a real passion. Today you would call it a “career changer”, and if you follow the history of BALIK, every single member of the BALIK family will tell you, working for BALIK is not just a job, but a career for life.
Zoran came from Serbia and spent most of his childhood in Austria.
How did you get to BALIK?
After the military, I got married and soon moved to Switzerland. First, I worked in construction, then I saw an ad in the newspaper. BALIK was looking for a staff member in the logistics department. I called and was able to introduce myself in no time. I liked the company right away and a short time later I could begin working at the farm. At that time BALIK was still run by the founders Hans Gerd Kübel and Martin Klöti.
Who was your instructor?
That was Manuel Vilas. When I joined BALIK in 1988, there were only three of us. Manuel and Ramon, both Spanish, and myself. I had to learn everything from scratch in only 3 months because they both wanted to go on summer holiday in July. It was hard, but I did it. With a lot of love and interest in salmon. Manuel was a super teacher. He was very strict but has a huge knowledge of the ovens and the wood. We still work together today and will probably do so for a few more years.
Do you have a favourite place at the farm?
Yes, the Kästner room. There is a beautiful dining room in the private part of the house where you just feel comfortable… almost like at home. Here we were able to celebrate wonderful parties with Hans Gerd Kübel, Martin Klöti and later with Mr Rebeiz. I still remember the first year: After we had worked through the months of November and December, Mr Kübel surprised us in January with a party and three original tins of caviar! Everyone was thrilled.
Do you still eat salmon yourself?
Definitely and still very much so. BALIK is not just salmon, it is the Rolls Royce of its kind! In addition, we always have to taste it in production. That's part of our job. Every employee is a quality controller, whether it's salting, pairing or vacuuming. We always check whether the salting and smoking is correct and whether a fishbone has been hidden. During vacuuming and shipping, we visually check the meat. If anything is wrong, it is rejected.
What is your favourite BALIK product?
The BALIK Fillet Tsar Nikolaj, of course. A super product. It tastes just fantastic!
What makes you proud?
That our customers still love the product after so many years. It means we must be doing something right. You always want to make it even better so that people continue to enjoy it. We are also a very family-oriented company. I get on well with the staff and enjoy coming to work. It makes me proud to be part of this BALIK family and to be responsible for producing such a great product.
What do you wish for?
It is very important to me to pass on to our younger employees and future successors that BALIK is not just salmon, but something very special and that you have to work for it with your heart.