Adina Agakishieva is the chief pastry chef at a French dessert shop in Prague, called Café Millème. She’s 30 years old, originally from Kyrgyzstan and she moved to Prague in 2007.
The secret of her success? Not to give up your dreams, focus on what is really important for you to reach the goals for which the sky is the limit, nothing is free, work hard, be brave and sometimes step outside your comfort zone and take risks, rely on yourself and hope that fortune will smile on you.
She is a foreigner who might live next door.
First time I’ve visited Prague as a tourist in the summer of 2006. As a teenager I fall in love with the city, it was the first city I’ve visited in Europe. I decided to move to Prague to enter the Faculty of Humanities at Charles University to study Psychology in the Czech language.
I moved here in 2007. It was different than Prague nowadays. The mobile phones were without internet connection, without any applications. Every time I needed to get to a new place I had to check it on my computer and draw a small plan of how to get there. I was really surprised that many people didn’t know the names of the streets. I mean few times I was lost and nobody could explain where is this or that street.
2. Your very first impression after relocation. What had surprised you the most?
The most shocking for me was that local people really didn’t like Russian speakers. With friends, we used to speak Russian and we all we learning the Czech language. Few times I noticed people staring at us and sometimes even saying something like “these people from Russia here”. After this, I was always speaking not too loud. Every foreigner in Prague knows this feeling when you are not very welcome.
3. What do you do for a living?
After graduating from the Faculty of Humanities I spent one year in France to learn Pastry Arts and Cuisine.
Now I’m the co-owner and the Head Pastry Chef in the French pâtisserie Café Millème at Klimentská street. I feel very lucky and very happy to do my job. I am the confectioner, the pastry chef, the baker, sometimes the waitress or even the courier. My work is a big part of my life, I spend many hours every day at Café Millème. Everybody knows they can meet me here.
Working as a pastry chef in my own places gives me the feeling of being at home, it gives me a lot of energy. My favorite part of work is the art of creating some new textures and new combinations of flavours. Using all possible ingredients and renewing old classic recipes into a new modern always less sweet and less fat version we call our creations by the names of the cities that are shown on the wall hand-painted world map.
Sometimes you are like a painter, like a designer, every pastry chef will understand what I mean.
4. Name one of the most bizarre things that have happened so far in Prague.
I was surprised that local people don’t like someone to speak Czech with an accent. No matter if it’s Russian, Vietnamese, French, or any other accent. It would be more encouraging to expats when they speak in the Czech language someone to try to understand what they say.
Any of us heard from the local people in Czech “I don’t understand” when actually you need help. It’s the first phrase we all have learned here. This is also one of the reasons why many foreigners give up to learn the language. They think that people here are not very communicative. That’s not true. Maybe it’s hard in the beginning but who doesn’t try never knows.
5. What can be done to make the life of expats easier?
I consider all expats should learn the Czech language. In my opinion, any foreign language is a plus for anyone who learns it, it’s also the way to learn their culture even if you are not the part of it, even if you always be a foreigner but to understand some of their habits and to know what is normal or bizarre for local people speaking their language is necessary.