Good France 2018.
Our first edition in Mnie to Rybka.
Verrine of Avocado & Cilantro Cream, Tartar of Gravalax with Citrus and Avocado, Smoked Salmon Mousse
Carpaccio of Sea Bream, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Chilli, Lime Juice, Lime, Avocado Relish, Sea Salt
Cured & Grilled Duck Fillet, Orange Sauce, Buckwheat Pilaf, Glazed Carrots, Cauliflower Purée with Brown Butter
Plates of French Cheese and Their Chutney – Roquefort, Crottin de Chavignol, Camembert
Mojito Mini Tart, Meringue, Rhum Sorbet
As the head chef of Cyrano & Roxane in Sopot, I entered the yellow guide in 2016. With a note of 11.5/20, I think it was a nice surprise. It’s some kind of recognition for all the staff in the kitchen.
Well, may be I should write a word or two about the yellow guide.
We call it the yellow guide. Like we call the Michelin guide the red guide. It’s the Gault & Millau. A very influential french restaurant guide created in 1965 by 2 french critics. They give points – maximum is 20 – based on the quality of food, they also comment on everything else, but the actual notation is only about food, unlike the red guide that gives rewards based on everything in the restaurant. They also give toques, up to 5, to high ranking restaurants.
The other difference with the red guide is their different idea of gastronomy. While the Michelin guide was more concerned about tradition, the Gault & Millau preferred to emphasize on the Nouvelle Cuisine.
For some people, the Gault & Millau is more purist as they only regard the quality of the food.
They created the polish yellow guide in 2015. And since, the number of restaurants in the guide is increasing. Which is understandable. Since I arrived here 10 years ago, I saw a great number of very good restaurants opening. At that time we didn’t know where to go as the choice was bad, now we still don’t know where to go because the offer is so huge…
So last Monday was the second edition of the Gault & Millau Tour for Northern Poland. It was organized in Szafarnia 10 in Gdańsk. 5 hours with presentations, culinary demonstrations from awarded chefs, drink & food tasting, discussions… A nice place to meet fellow chefs and check out what is trending – a little – on the polish gastronomic scene.
As I’m more of a sea food and fish kinda guy, I really loved the Trout Tartar made by Mariusz Siwak – lovely combination of structures and taste – and the Scallops Course made by Iwona Niemczewska. I didn’t have the time to try the Scallops Tartar made by Sebastian Krauzowicz as everybody jumped on it. Too bad, it looked very appetizing.
Chef of the Year
Sebastian Krauzowicz, Sfera by Krauzowicz, Toruń
Krzysztof Bielawski, Szeroka 9, Toruń
Chef of Tomorrow
Mariusz Siwak, Park Hotel, Szczecin
Woman Chef of the Year
Iwona Niemczewska, Z Drugiej Strony Lustra, Szczecin
Traditional Chef of the Year
Grzegorz Labuda, Szafarnia 10, Gdańsk
Today, I took the occasion to shoot some pictures with my brand new 16-35. Finally. I took an hour off, and headed to the longest wooden pier in Europe. In Sopot, that’s right. Because today we had a Slow Food Festival. Numerous restaurants showing us their skills in making good food. There was plenty of people. A lot actually, so many that sometimes it was very difficult to take pictures or grab some food. People were just everywhere.
Ingredient for 8 peoples:
1kg sweetcorn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1l coconut milk
Ground white pepper
A handful of popcorn
Freshly ground black pepper
Now, let’s do this soup. It’s a very easy one. Just note that if you can’t find fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels, you can use tinned ones, you will just have to wash them in clear cold water before use.
So, let’s put nearly everything in a big pot. The kernels (just keep a handfull for later use), cream, milk and coconut milk. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes. Then process in a blender or with a mixer. Normally, at work, I then strain the soup through a sieve to remove all skins. It’s up to you.
When the soup is strained, I put it back on the pot and season it with salt and white pepper. I add the kernels I kept aside earlier and warm it up a little.
Meanwhile, make some popcorn. Not a lot, just for decoration. I used Coriander for this soup, but you can use spring onions or any kind of fresh herbs if you like. Coriander gives better results, that’s all.
Now serve the soup, with the popcorn, the freshly ground black pepper and the Coriander. Enjoy.
The soup is a little on the sweet side, I love it. It’s rich as well. Children should love it too.
Now, you can do a lot of things with that basic recipe. Add lemongrass, process the soup with much more Coriander, use vegetables Knorr cubes, or real vegetable stock… Sky is your limit. Cooking is a question of experimentation and curiosity. Don’t be stuck with a recipe, with an ingredient you don’t like (of course, if you don’t like sweet corn here, it’s a problem), have fun while cooking. Don’t stress.
Few days ago, I stopped by an article on my FB wall. 50 things they never told you about being a chef. The bad sides and the very few good ones.
One day or another in my professional life I shared few points with this list, I still share some, I also stopped sharing others and finally some points I never shared at all.
I wanted to just translate this list into French, but finally I modified it a little bit by removing few points, keeping some and adding my own experience into it.
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster. Oops, sorry, always wanted to be a chef. To me, being a chef was better than being anything else in the world. I don’t know why as I can’t say that my parents were food connoisseurs and good cooks at home. We never went to the restaurant together, my first time was in Narbonne with one of my aunt. So no backgrounds for me, but the desire to become a chef was deeply in my mind.
I was warned that it would be difficult, that it was a very hard work with long hours and so on. That it was stressful and tiring. I still remember my english school teacher in Sévigné (Narbonne) claiming in front of the whole classroom that I would never ever manage to survive in this work and that I was useless.
I did it, and I’m still working as a chef. I travelled, I lived in a country I always wanted to go – Ireland. I’ve seen different kind of people, of different social classes. I had friends from all over the world. I worked in good restaurants, in average ones too, and just few hours in dreadful shitholes….
So now I’m 40. I’m working as a chef since I’m 16 (with few years break for more studies), and I don’t regret my choice. Even if it’ not such an easy job, it’s not the worst either. So don’t take this list too seriously, relax, think about it, and have fun with it.
Never I would wish my children to work in a kitchen. I would encourage them to cook at home, to like it, to be really good for their family, friends, I would teach them how to enjoy food, how to choose quality over quantity, how to appreciate great food, good products, nice wine and beers, how to appreciate real whiskey. In fact, I would teach them how to appreciate the good things in life.
But I would never push them to choose my job. Too many sacrifices….
So think a little before starting you career as a chef. The road will be long and treacherous. Read all these points. But as I already wrote, take them with a little sense of humor.
Not everything is that bad. I love my job. I love to cook for others, I love to create new dishes, new menu. I loved the atmosphere in a kitchen, the fun with the waiting staff, the night out with everybody, drinking beers and getting drunk, I loved the stress during a service. But now, I’m getting a little too old, I like to be quiet….
If beside all these points, you still want to be a chef. Go for it, don’t look back, persevere, don’t give up. It’s worth it big time. Because after all these years of hard work, working countless hours, I would not change it if I had to go back to the past. I don’t regret anything because at the end of the day, it’s still a good damn job.
And my wife loves when I’m off and she comes back from work, that dinner is ready, waiting for her.
NB : I’m working in Poland where the working system is really different than all the other countries I worked in. Here, we have a 2 days on, 2 days off system. So it gives me lots of free social time with my wife, my friends and also to practice my other big hobby – photography. And I also have some Week Ends off, at least one a month.