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Almost two decades ago, Croatian rapper El Bahattee was quite known entity on local scene. His songs were quite provocative and inspiring, winning even the national music award Porin. Yet, he retreated from the industry in 2003, leaving both fans and critics disappointed. The truth was that he pursued another goal in life- that of professional confectioner. His dreams came true, with his brand Taman Chocolates gaining notable attention even on international scale.

“I am a huge fan of chocolate, and working with it is a creative and dynamic job,” El Bahattee, now more known as Stiv Kahlina, which is his real name. “I was working in music and design, so creativity was always part of my being. Once I sensed the call to become a confectioner, there was no doubt.”

Stiv’s education includes a finished master program of Ecole Chocolate School in Canada and Callebaut Academy in Belgium. His primary field of interest was making pralines, an art in which he excels even today. This year, the prestigious Academy of Chocolate has awarded Stiv with no less than nine recognitions. These were provided for dark chocolate with coffee and cardamom, milk chocolate with roasted sesame and curry and extra dark chocolate with orange, pepper and thyme.

Taman Chocolates brand was also awarded for their pralines. The prize went for their strawberry and mint truffles, as well as those with carob and lavender. Praline products that included lemon, whiskey, coffee, mango, coriander and rum have also gained the same recognition.

“We like to experiment. Of course, we follow tradition to certain extent, but we always search for our own interpretations. The golden rule is that nothing should interfere with the taste of chocolate itself. It must be in the center of experience, with all other ingredients just providing support,” Stiv concluded.

Taman Chocolates are available in Zagreb, Ivanic Grad, Split, Stari Grad and Dubrovnik. Discover this unique realm of tastes on its official website.

Photo: Neja Markicevic / Hanza Media