The first lights hit the stove and Adina Agakishieva is already in her café preheating the oven, mixing cream and butter, baking macarons, berry tartlets, French croissants among many other pastries. Before she knows it, it is already 8:30 am and she heads to open the doors of the café to greet the first clients. That is Adina’s typical morning.
Adina first came to the Czech Republic from Kyrgyzstan several years ago to study Humanities at Charles University. A year into the program, she realized that it was not her calling. In search of her true vocation, she took a cooking course, and soon enough it became evident that she found her vocation. In order to become a professional in the field of confectionary, she went to study in France.
When she returned to Prague, she applied for a job at Café Milléme, a place she now co-owns. She went from working for them as a confectioner to working with them as a business partner and now she is a shareholder. When asked how she managed to become one of the three co-owners, she says: “I did what no one else could.” Adina’s example illustrates that despite being a relative beginner, having passion and perseverance can set you apart even from the most experienced confectioners. The motto that helped Adina to get a degree from Charles University and become a co-owner of a café is “finish what you start.”
Despite having this enthusiasm, Adina doesn’t find it easy to run a food-related business in Prague. “The competition is big. There are coffee shops and restaurants at every corner. Also, Prague’s population isn’t that big and many people don’t like to spend money. The fact that so many businesses close indicates that it is not easy.”
The biggest challenge of owning a business is maintaining it, says Adina. “It is not hard to open a business; it is hard to keep up the quality and keep surprising your clients with new ideas. If you rest on your laurels, you risk loosing clients. You need to keep coming up with new ideas and recipes. And that’s what we do. Our variety of pastries always changes. I try to come up with new recipes, and our regular customers always take notice of that,” says Adina.
Café Milléme offers cakes from all over the world including Japan, France and Russia. In fact, their original cake recipes carry names of the cities they come from such as “Osaka,” “Prague,” or “San Francisco”. Another distinguishing feature of the café lies in the ingredients they use. “We only use real ingredients. We do not use chemical additives, not even margarin,” says Adina. “If you open a business that is different from the ones already existing with its distinguishing feature, you have higher chances of success.”
Author of the article, Anelya Kadyrova, is one of Prague Daily Monitor’s reporters, who is in her final year of studying journalism at Anglo-American University.