22.03.2016

KRAKÓW: Proud to be a Cook!

The month of March belongs to women! That is why we want to introduce you to seven fascinating ladies, who – in their own, special ways – live and cook in Kraków. In a short questionnaire, the women tell us about their inspirations, tastes of childhood and culinary mottos in order to fight stereotypes and present the fair sex in all its culinary beauty. Revolutionaries, professionals, witches – each of them proud to be a Cook!

 

Text: Kasia Pilitowska
Photos: courtesy of our heroines

 

 

Gosia Neuman

The owner and cook of a tiny pancake house located near Stary Kleparz – the oldest marketplace in Kraków.

Your culinary memory from childhood.

Cream sprinkled with sugar I used to eat on the sly and my grandma’s pierogi ruskie [Translator’s note: Pierogi are dumplings of East European origin made by wrapping pockets of unleavened dough around a savory or sweet filling and cooking them in boiling water. Pierogi ruskie are Polish pierogi filled with fresh curd cheese, boiled and minced potatoes, and fried onions].

Why did you become a cook?

I’ve always enjoyed food, yet I believe that I decided to become a cook when I was living in Rome, visiting a market in the Prati district basically every day. I lived alone so the only pleasure I indulged in after work was the preparation of meals from the products bought at the market. Back then, I had plenty of time to master my cooking skills but, at a certain point, I realized that cooking for myself was like writing for the drawer. I knew how much I needed to share my passion with others.

Name two products you always have in your kitchen.

I think I won’t mislead you if I say: pasta and olive oil. Actually, I used to be convinced for a long time that I was going to open a pasta restaurant.

If you were supposed to eat a specific dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Oh, I don’t think I could choose one dish. I get bored with tastes very quickly. One day I eat steak and then I have to stay away from meat for a couple of days.

 

What is your show-off dish?

Calvados flambé scallop galette – a dish that would certainly be one of the most sophisticated and expensive dishes on the French menu ;) Generally, I believe that alcohol takes meals to a different dimension. And I certainly cannot resist fried seafood!

 

 

Your breakfast…
A loaf of bread, bundz [Polish sheep milk cheese] and cherry tomatoes (in winter) or raspberry tomatoes from my mother’s garden (in summer).

What would you say to a person who wants to start cooking for other people but still feels uneasy about it?
Begin with inviting your friends to dinner, but don’t cook anything you already know how to cook perfectly. Shared dinners give you the opportunity to take some risk and cook something new. Such gatherings should be exciting for everyone!

Your culinary motto:
Read a recipe, but never memorize it!

 



 

Sabina Francuz

The founder of a cooking collective Głodne Kawałki, one of the eataway.com cooks and the organizer of breathtaking Sabbath breakfasts.

 

Your culinary memory from childhood.
Balls of warm bread.

Why did you become a cook?
I became a cook because cooking is the most sense-engaging activity I can think of.

Name two products you always have in your kitchen.
Flour and honey.

If you were supposed to eat a specific dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I would die of boredom after two days.

What is your show-off dish?
Ossobuco.

Your breakfast…
Eggs and bacon, fried tomatoes, blanched spinach, wheat rye bread.

What would you say to a person who wants to start cooking for other people but still feels uneasy about it?
This!

Your culinary motto:
I don’t think I can share it publicly.

 

 


 

Sheuli Bhowal

She is a Hindu and has been living in Kraków for the last seven years. She used to be a chef in a Hindu restaurant; now, she is part of the eataway.com cooking team. Her Naan flatbread is astoundingly delicious!

 

Your culinary memory from your childhood.
I was often helping my mother in cooking. My first independent cooking was, preparing rice pudding with the supervision of my Grandmother.

Why did you become a cook?
I like to feed people and get great satisfaction when people are happy eating my food.

Name two products you always have in your kitchen.
Sugar and salt

If you were supposed to eat a specific dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I would not like to eat only one specific dish throughout of my of life. However, my most favorite dish is Biryani: a royal one pot dish, which I learned from my grandfather

Your show-off dish…
Biryani

Your breakfast …
ALU PARATHA, indian Flat Bread, stuffed with potato

What would you say to a person who wants to start cooking for other people but still feels uneasy about it?
Prepare your food well. It shall be a great fun.

Your culinary motto:
Spread Indian cuisine and bring taste form authentic Indian home kitchen.


 

 

 

 

Aga Godek 

A devil of a woman who is perfectly comfortable with cooking for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. The master of Spanish cuisine, Aga runs a cooking collective with a pretty suggestive name: The Kitchen of Witches (Kuchnia Czarownic/La cocina de brujas)
 

Your culinary memory from childhood.
The earliest memory I have is the memory of my grandma’s pierogi. She used to make such a thin, elastic dough. I loved to eat the dough first and then go to filling. The best pierogi were the ones filled with strawberries. What I also remember is a homemade pasta. Pasta dough used to lie all over the place…I even sat on it once!

Why did you become a cook?
Why? I think because I love eating and cooking. There’s no greater happiness for me than seeing other people enjoy my food.  

Name two products you always have in your kitchen.
Chickpea and dried tomatoes.

If you were supposed to eat a specific dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I couldn’t eat the same dish for ever. I think I’d be unhappy. Certainly I would miss potatoes – I love them and could eat them every day, no matter how prepared.  

 

 

 

What is your show-off dish?
Tomato soup! Delicious, creamy, served with a homemade pasta or batter.

Your breakfast…
My breakfast depends on whether I’m on a diet (most of the time I am), whether it’s a working day or whether I’m having it alone or with company…It’s usually eggs, vegetables, millet, some biscuits…

What would you say to a person who wants to start cooking for other people but still feels uneasy about it?
If you know you’d love cooking for others, don’t feel uneasy. People will appreciate how much heart you put into preparing your meals, all the rest will come in time.

Your culinary motto:
My motto? I think it’s about not to have any rules. And nothing can go to waste.


 

 

Alicja Rokicka

The pioneer of plant-based cooking not only in the eyes of vegans, but also vegetarians and meat-eaters. Her blog Vegan Nerd has received numerous accolades, while her beautiful, sophisticated photographs inspire the entire country.

 

Your culinary memory from childhood.
I have lots of such memories, they’re all different yet there is one link between them – my grandma. It may not sound original but it was with her that I started experiencing cooking firsthand. I remember my first yeast cake, my first pierogi and the first time I cooked powidła [a plum stew].

Why did you become a cook?
I’m sure that I took to cooking only because I became a vegetarian as a teenager. I didn’t want to burden by mom and grandma with my choice so I prepared meals for myself. That’s how my adventure with cooking began and now it is what I do for a living.

Name two products you always have in your kitchen.
Unfortunately there are a lot of products I can’t do without. Sometimes I think that if I was to move out from my apartment I would suffer a breakdown. My kitchen is filled with small jars and tiny bottles, each of them important. What I miss the most when I travel is my spice shelf. Also, I can’t imagine cooking without olive oil. I always have a bottle of good Italian cold-pressed olive oil somewhere nearby. It tastes delicious even if it’s served only with a loaf of bread or a good-quality pasta.

 

 

 

If you were supposed to eat a specific dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I could eat Italian pizza for the rest of my life. The one made on flatbread, with tomato sauce, garlic and grilled vegetables; served with red wine, of course.

What is your show-off dish?
(giggling)… my show-off dish is… pizza! I love Italian cuisine for its simplicity and the way it respects and loves each and every ingredient. When my friends pay me an unexpected visit, I know several meals I can prepare easily while drinking wine, talking to my friends and having fun with them at the same time. The meal will usually be pasta, vegetable lasagna or a pizza – I think I’ve already made a thousand of them.

Your breakfast…
If I’m hungry in the morning I gladly go for a simple porridge with plant milk, a pinch of salt and syrup, be it maple. Most often, however, it is coffee. I’m of those people who rarely eat breakfasts, and if I do, I do it on weekends and definitely not in the morning.

What would you say to a person who wants to start cooking for other people but still feels uneasy about it?
Firstly, I would ask this person why he or she feels uneasy. You have to believe in yourself in the kitchen and cook freely. While cooking, you need to realize that you do it for yourself because you cannot treat others to something you wouldn’t taste yourself.  

Your culinary motto:
"My kitchen is for dancing" – it perfectly illustrates my attitude towards the freedom in cooking.

 

 

 

Aga Delkowska 

She runs the blog Lady Kitchen described as “a cooking guide for all those who don’t have servants”, can be characterized by an unusual sense of humor and the deeply rooted aversion towards measures and frameworks. In the kitchen, she works side by side with a mysterious character – Najcierpliwszy [The Most Patient].

 

Your culinary memory from childhood.
The first taste I remember is the taste of noodles in milk my mother used to prepare. As a child, I really didn’t like milk soup, but the actual memories of it are good. There are also mashed potatoes with sauerkraut my grandma used to make, and even though I have the recipe and do everything the way she did, the final taste of the dish is completely different. It’s perfect only when prepared by grandma. Childhood is the taste of homemade white cheese, honey, sour apples and raspberries picked in the forest. It is the picking of blueberries and wild strawberries. Finally, it’s the smell of a yeast cake with butter crumble topping.

Why did you become a cook?
I had no intention of becoming a cook and started cooking by accident. It turned out I was good at it and people enjoyed my meals. I realized how much pleasure it gave me to discover and combine new tastes. At first I cooked only for my family but later I started cooking for other people as well. It’s been like that for a dozen years now.

Name two products you always have in your kitchen.
Camelina oil and vanilla beans. I fell in love with camelina oil some time ago; it’s perfect for salads, dressings and soups. Vanilla, on the other hand, if real and of good quality, can refine the taste of even the simplest dessert.

 

 

 

If you were supposed to eat a specific dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Most definitely, it would be sałaciorka. It’s a traditional soup of Polish highlanders made of whey or sour milk. It has a beautiful, green color and a pleasantly sourish taste.

What is your show-off dish?
Long-roasted lamb. It takes a week to prepare it, but the taste is worth waiting for.

Your breakfast…
It’s a shame, but the first thing I do is drink coffee. Then I eat a loaf of a homemade, whole-wheat bread with butter, cress and tomato or with avocado and smoked salmon.

What would you say to a person who wants to start cooking for other people but still feels uneasy about it?
There’s no need to feel uneasy in the kitchen. You need to be a bit crazy and a bit disciplined. You have to listen to yourself and trust your taste. Treat recipes as inspirations, not rules to be followed. Try, experiment and never stop searching. If something doesn’t go as planned, don’t be discouraged – it happens to everyone! Cooking is all about fun and pleasure, even though it can also be hard work.

Your culinary motto:
Good ingredients, good energy and good people next to you transform the simplest meal into a royal feast.

 

 

 

 

Ewa Ambroży

Three years ago she decided to come out of the shadow as “Uczta Babette” [Babette’s Feast] to show the world her true potential. Since then, her kingdom has attracted thousands of sweets aficionados. Girls and boys, women and men, on a diet or not, continuously dream about all those delicious meringues or exquisite salted caramel cheesecakes. When it comes to Ewa’s husband Budyń – he patiently endures all the hand slapping every time he reaches for a piece of cake.

 

Your culinary memory from childhood.
I was raised in an old, beautiful house with an enormous garden with apples, cherries, sweet cherries, walnuts, gooseberries and redcurrants. I remember summer afternoons, fruit straight from the garden, kompot [a fruit stew], and my aunt’s quick-to-make cake with all the fruit that fell off the trees. Then I remember the ‘90s and my teenage years – the time when I and my friends used to come after school and prepare fried potato rounds and French fries served with ketchup and mayonnaise. Listening to Kurt Cobain, we were uniting in the pain of existence.

Why did you become a cook?
It’s not an easy question for me… I’m afraid my mom will get angry if I’m going to say why I became a cook, but let’s do it… So I started cooking because my mom was not that much of a cook herself – she believed in chicken and frozen food. When I was a teenager I wanted to be a vegetarian and started cooking on my own. As it turned out, I was pretty good at it and really liked it. I didn’t stay a vegetarian for too long, but I never stopped cooking. I also have a vivid memory of me searching for the name of my business and how I rejected every option. I remembered the time when I used to spend holidays at my grandpa’s in the mountains. He worked a lot, so what I did for most of the time was sit in front of TV and watch everything it had to offer, including “Babette’s Feast”. Not an easy movie for a kid, that’s for sure, but one thing I realized after watching it was that cooking brought you closer to other people and made them feel good in your company.

 

 

Name two products you always have in your kitchen.
I always have a lot of good-quality butter and thyme.

If you were supposed to eat a specific dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Potatoes with butter, dill and kefir.

What is your show-off dish?
Salted caramel chocolate cake.

Your breakfast…
Butter, fresh, good bread and a cottage cheese with high-fat cream. Sometimes I eat porridge with caramelized apples and cardamom.

What would you say to a person who wants to start cooking for other people but still feels uneasy about it?
Ha-ha… I would say they should be feeling uneasy because once they start cooking they won’t come back to their regular jobs. Cooking is not a job, it’s a lifestyle.  

Your culinary motto:
What I keep telling people who cook with me is that if they stick to simplicity and top-quality products, everything will be OK.  

 

 

 

Agnieszka Bielawska

Well-known to participants of culinary festivals for her vegan curry with Brussels sprouts and other astonishingly good vegetarian and vegan dishes, is a chef in the Pauza in Garden club, working under the name Green Win Vege Food. Once she said to me: “What other activity should I devote my life to? Cooking is the only thing I love.”

 

Your culinary memory from childhood.
We used to cook a lot in my family so I associate childhood with homemade meals. What I remember the most is the time before Christmas: making raviolis [Polish uszka], preparing carp in grey sauce, to which we ground gingerbread and then mixed everything with honey and almonds. I also remember hundreds of pierogi ruskie my mom used to make, her world’s best nut layer cake the recipe for which she had from my great grandma. My grandma’s delicious old Polish borderland cuisine was also to die for.

 

Why did you become a cook?
It may sound weird, but I became a cook after all the terrible food I had to eat when I was living in France. I worked for a family whose members ate ready-made meals only: there was frozen food and even powdered potatoes…disgusting! I remember them asking me to put chicken soup on. I did it the way my mother had told me – cooked it over a low fire for a longer time. I was so proud of myself! What they did was pour all the soup out in the kitchen sink and eat the meat it was based on. Unwilling to bear it any longer, I took to French books and papers and started cooking. That’s how it began. I came back to Poland and became crazy about cookbooks and food and cooking TV shows. I cooked a lot, to say the least. I still do it. It wasn’t easy but I love what I do and cannot imagine doing anything else. I keep on learning all the time, I make mistakes and get furious when something doesn’t go as planned but, above all, I am having great fun.

 

 

Name two products you always have in your kitchen.
Potatoes and a good-quality cheese.

If you were supposed to eat a specific dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Young, Polish potatoes with kefir and dill ☺

What is your show-off dish?
I have a soft spot for all kinds of one-dish meals, especially curry, making the greatest hit. Recently, it’s been green Thai curry with Brussels sprouts and tofu – tastes like heaven!

Your breakfast…
Sunday breakfasts are the best, eaten in peace, with my second half sitting next to me. Good bread, spreads, hummus, fresh vegetables, eggs and freshly ground coffee!

What would you say to a person who wants to start cooking for other people but still feels uneasy about it?
Do feel uneasy for it won’t be easy! It’s going to be worth it only if you really love doing it!

Your culinary motto:
Cook only what you’d eat yourself, do it properly, don’t be afraid, have fun, experiment and trust your gut!

 

 

 

Zofia Barto

What does a business named "Zaczyn*" possibly have to offer? Speakers of Polish will know it has to be bread. Zofia is the goddess of bread – she makes it with all the existing cereals, with leaven and with crispy, aromatic skin. She also bakes vegan sweet buns and makes an impossibly delicious peanut butter. She’s a vegan and an Otwarte Klatki activist.

*”Zaczyn” is a Polish word for “leaven”, a substance that is added to bread  before it is cooked to make it rise.

Your culinary memory from childhood.
What I recollect most often is the memory of a warm bread with butter. No one baked bread at home, but I grew up in Śląsk [Silesia], where we had these tiny bakeries with the best bread in the world. I’ve never eaten a bread that good.  

Why did you become a cook?
After I graduated from the university I couldn’t find a job in my profession. I’d always been passionate about cooking and baking so I decided to try my hand at being a cook. After the first day at work I knew where I belonged.

Name two products you always have in your kitchen.
Flour and vanilla.

 

 

 

If you were supposed to eat a specific dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Israeli falafel.

What is your show-off dish?
It’s not a dish, but bread is what I can show off with!

Your breakfast…
Breakfast is my favorite meal. I find it difficult to pinpoint my typical breakfast because I don’t have a typical one. I eat differently, depending on what a particular season has to offer. When it’s cold outside, I like warm breakfasts: porridges, millet or buckwheat with milk, nuts and homemade preserves. In summer I gorge on fresh fruit and vegetables. I love all kinds of potato pancakes, pancakes and omelets. And, of course, sandwiches!

What would you say to a person who wants to start cooking for other people but still feels uneasy about it?
There’s nothing to feel uneasy about. If cooking is something you want to do, you’re sure to do it right.

Your culinary motto:
Cook so that your food gives pleasure to those who eat it.


 

 

 

Mira Park

Mira is a Korean and has been living in Kraków for seven years now. There’s nothing surprising about that except for the fact that during that time she’s managed to create her own balcony plantation of plants and herbs indispensable for the preparation of Korean meals. She also has a huge refrigerator exclusively for storing kimchi. Today, she’s one of the most popular cooks in an international eataway.com team.

 

Your culinary memory from your childhood.
I was born in the southmost region of Korea and spent my life until highschool there. My hometown had mountains and seas so there was always an abundance of fresh ingredients. It's perhaps because of this that my mother always cooked various meals for me every day. My favourite is seafood - I was always excited coming back home from school, and the smell of seafood coming from my house always brightened up my mood. Even now, when I think of it, I miss Korea and my family.

 

Why did you become a cook?
It's been my 8th year in Poland. In the first few months I was extremely homesick, so I invited my friends over and cooked for them. I learnt the appeal of cooking for others when watching then happily eat my food, and also was able to make lots of great friends. From the help of close friends I started cooking for buffets and also started cooking lessons, then eventually met Eataway.

 

 

Name two products you always have in your kitchen
Seaweed and dried anchovies. They're always in stock because it's useful in making soups and lots of other foods.

If you were supposed to eat a specific dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It's seafood, no doubt. I'd quickly get tired of eating meat, but I'd be happy with seafood for eternity.

Your show-off dish
It's probably fresh spring rolls. It's not really difficult to make, and a lot of people love it. It looks beautiful as well, and with my special sauce, it's delicious.

Your breakfast...
My breakfast is westernised, so there are an increasing amount of days where I just eat bread and cereal. But I still try to eat traditional Korean food of rice, soup and kimchi.

What would you say to a person who wants to start cooking for other people but still feels uneasy about it?
If you love cooking, then I want to tell you to not be afraid and start as soon as possible. You'll never regert starting after looking at the faces of people after they enjoyed your food.

Your culinary motto?
There's a saying in Korea: "A good meal is better than any medicine." My personal motto is "Cooking is care and love". I always choose the best ingredients, and if I cook thinking of the people who'll eat my food, my customers can also experience the care and love I put in when I cooked.

 

 

 

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