The people behind the products: Meet Darko Curcin, Project Manager – Production / Operation, Jozefow Yeast Production Plant, Poland
Darko is responsible for the whole production process for live yeast LEVUCELL SB and LEVUCELL SC, including the TITAN microencapsulated process, as well as other wine yeast strains.
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Darko Curcin, I was born 51 years ago in former Yugoslavia. I studied chemical engineering. in Belgrade University. Immediately after University, I started to work in a yeast and alcohol factory as a production engineer. Then I became a plant manager, but after that, the company stopped production so I decided to move on, this is when I got to work with Lallemand on yeast production. That was 11 years ago. Since then I have worked in several places, here in Poland, as a production manager, project manager. Now I’m responsible for the specialties yeast production in Jozefow. Concerning the animal nutrition business, I’m responsible as an operational director for all the LEVUCELL yeasts (LEVUCELL SB and LEVUCELL SC) production in general, microencapsulated (TITAN), or not, from the lab to the delivered product.
How did you come to work in yeast production?
At first, it was a coincidence, really When I finished university, I had different options in the chemical industry. We were trained to work in production in general and then once on the job you can specialize yourself and improve yourself in one type of technology. At the time, there were a couple of job offers, one in brewing, another one in the petrochemical industry, and one in a yeast factory: I choose this one by chance and since I started work I really loved working at a yeast factory! First, I worked in alcohol production based on yeast fermentation. This is when I learned how to grow yeast. After two years I moved to the bakers’ yeast department, where I learned all the things about yeast production. So that’s how I started working with yeast and I loved it! I am in the yeast business since 97, so that’s twenty-four years and I still love it!
What do you like about your job at the Lallemand yeast plant?
I believe that it is something that is related to at least 2-3 things. First, yeast is a live organism and this gives you a completely unique point of view on your daily work. You need to deal with something which is alive, being one cell or billions! The second thing I like is the challenges that come up with that. It is not so easy to make good quality products. There are so many parameters involved, and you have to keep it alive! So, it is challenging and it is nice when you succeed. These two things combined give you a lot of opportunities to learn, and that is the third thing. You can learn and improve yourself every day. All these explain that I’m still in love with the work with yeast after all these years. Finding yourself in a position where, after so many years you can still learn something new every day is quite big excitement and not only challenging.
According to you, what is most important to produce quality yeast?
Consistency. Consistency is one of the most important things in general in yeast production, because, as I mentioned in the beginning, yeast is a living organism and if you don’t treat it well all the time, it will react, kind of complaining and it won’t perform well. Consistency and knowledge, and all this experience of yeast production we have at Lallemand. And the last one, very important, is cooperation. Cooperation with our R&D team in Toulouse lab, and our quality team. A combination of all these factors is important to make good value products for our customers. So it is not one person that can do that, not even one team such as production for example. It is complex to make good products. It is very important to have good quality control, good R&D. All these need to cooperate very tightly. For me, this is teamwork.