This week our head chef Lukasz Wojnarowicz shares his thoughts on working for LSE; British and Polish cuisine; and the best places to eat in London.
What first brought you to the UK?
My head chef from Warsaw suggested that I should work in this country as his friend was running the restaurant in a hotel in Weybridge, Surrey and he was looking for a senior commis chef. I agreed and they sent me a job offer two weeks later!
I have found the English kitchen system very similar to the one we have in Poland even though I was only working professionally for one year after graduating from culinary school. I was surrounded by great people from around the world who helped me with communication in English and cooking different types of food.
How does working for LSE compare to your other jobs?
LSE is a great place to work. It allows me to cook food at a high level using good quality seasonal ingredients, using my experiences to learn, serve food to my customers, listen to their feedback, cook their favourite dishes, and meet people from outside the industry who specialise in different professions.
In contrast, back in the day I worked long hours, under high pressure from my supervisors and had very little time for my social life.
What do you like most about working for the school?
See above! Plus, having a fantastic team of hard working chefs along my side, like Piotr and Joao.
What would you say to a student who thinks British food is terrible?
It isn’t true! British cuisine has many influences from different nationalities, mostly Indian and African.
But there used to be a lack of fresh produce, and despite some brave farmers back in the early 90's who raised good quality meat like beef, lamb and pork, or grew fresh vegetables, Britain preferred to export food from abroad which was very expensive and not every restaurant or household back then could afford it. So they were using cheap and affordable ingredients. Maybe some British food looked a bit grey and heavy on sauces compared to a Mediterranean diet full of salads and fresh, rich in flavour vegetables and fruit. But it was still very tasty.
Where are the best places in London to buy ingredients?
Street markets from local farmers, New Covent Garden Market in Battersea if you have a restaurant, or from the big retailers like Waitrose or Whole Foods Market.
Where would you recommend eating in London (apart from our restaurant of course!)
I always recommend buying a cookbook or Googling recipes from the internet and trying to reproduce the dish as this will cost us less money than going to dine in a restaurant. Plus, we will learn a new skill! However, if you prefer to eat out, I recommend the following:
- street markets
- food festivals
- Michelin star restaurants, which give us pure perfection on the plate!
Eating in one is bit pricey but everybody has to try it once in their life.
What would you advise someone who has never cooked but would like to learn?
Try to take few cooking lessons to your personal taste (such as at Jamie Oliver's Recipease in Notting Hill - Laura) and buy a cookbook.
Could you give us a little overview of Polish cuisine?
Polish cuisine is rich in ingredients as we are a bit of a cold country. It’s very tasty and easy to adapt in many different ways which goes well with any alcohol you want to match!
We have a really wide variety of food in the restaurant - where do you get your inspiration for the different recipes?
Our influence comes from culinary programmes, imagination, heart, cookbooks, recommendation of our customers, experience and most importantly which products are available in season.
Many thanks to Lukasz for his thoughts!
Interview by Laura
commis chef (n) – assistant chef
seasonal/ in season (adj.) – growing naturally at that time of year e.g. In the UK, strawberries are in season from June to August.
back in the day/ back then (exp.) – at that time in the past
pricey (adj.) –expensive
culinary (adj.) – concerned with the art/skill of cooking
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