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Obsession 2016: Wojciech Modest Amaro

Obsession 2016: Wojciech Modest Amaro

by Great British Chefs 05 February 2016

Poland's only Michelin-starred chef comes to showcase his inspired cuisine in the UK for the first time at Northcote's Obsession. We talk to him and learn more about his unique style.

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Being the only Michelin-starred chef in the entirety of your home country means you instantly become an ambassador for the national food scene. Wojciech Modest Amaro earned his stripes in esteemed kitchens such as Le Gavroche, Noma and El Bulli, before returning to his native Poland to open his own restaurant, Atelier Amaro, in 2011. Just three months later, it was awarded a Michelin star – a first for the country and a huge boost to the Eastern European dining scene.

Now, Wojciech is returning to the UK to cook at Nigel Haworth’s Obsession festival to give diners a taste of his modern, ingredient-led cooking. ‘I’m very excited to be able to show people outside of Poland my food, philosophy and signature flavour combinations,’ he says. ‘A lot of international events for chefs these days are just symposiums or meetings; everyone talks but you don’t get to taste each other’s cooking.

‘It has been a long time since I left the UK but my culinary heart is always grateful for what I learnt here,’ continues Wojciech. ‘I follow everything that happens; it’s amazing how much the food scene has evolved to become the best in the world. The diversity of cuisines, quality of ingredients and progression towards perfection makes it very exciting. I think for all the chefs in Poland, England is a great example to follow.’

Polish herbs
Wojciech makes the most of Poland's native herbs and ingredients
Wojciech dish
He also makes the most of modern, avant-garde cooking methods
A few of the ingredients I’ll be bringing with me are a twelve month-aged spruce and oak vinegar, spruce and juniper oil, fermented potato juice and salted poppy seeds. There certainly won’t be any fancy asparagus or baby vegetables!

Wojciech Modest Amaro

It’s clear that Wojciech’s time in the kitchens of Noma and El Bulli have had a profound effect on his own style – he goes hunting, fishing and foraging, has his own farm and loves using unheard of ingredients native to Poland. ‘My cooking is based on whatever I see outside of my window at that particular time of year,’ he says. ‘At Obsession, my menu is based on products which we already foraged or harvested in Poland, and then preserved through fermentation, dry-freezing, curing, aging or marinating. A few of the ingredients I’ll be bringing with me are a twelve month-aged spruce and oak vinegar, spruce and juniper oil, fermented potato juice and salted poppy seeds. There certainly won’t be any fancy asparagus or baby vegetables!’

As well as the age-old tradition of preserving rare foraged ingredients, Wojciech utilises cutting edge culinary techniques to make the most of natural produce – something that has evolved into his signature cooking style. ‘I combine nature and science,’ he says. ‘My inspiration comes from the natural world but I use modern techniques and processes to develop dishes. Rather than calling it molecular cuisine, I like to think of it as conscious cuisine; knowing what is happening during the cooking process helps me highlight the true potential of each ingredient. Science by definition is a knowledge obtained through study or practise, and I think a molecular approach is just one aspect of that.’

By coming to cook at events such as Obsession, Wojciech hopes that people will start to pay more attention to Polish cuisine. ‘Gaining a Michelin star was a huge achievement for the whole of Poland,’ he explains. ‘It was proof that we have all the necessary tools, knowledge and ingredients to compete at an international level. It was also my personal goal and, after twenty-two years in the kitchen, brought me great joy. I expect many more stars for Poland in the future and events like Obsession will help the country to gain recognition.’

 

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Obsession 2016: Wojciech Modest Amaro

 
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