Tell us a little bit about your culinary activity. 
It’s not easy to define it. I cook for people in many different forms: I organize feasts and dinners, I take over kitchens during various workshops, I throw pop-up food events. I go to culinary residencies. I bake cakes for order. A few times a year, I reside at different farms or wineries, where I feed the hosts and guests. 

How long have you been doing it and what made you turn to feeding people in the first place? 

Cooking has always been present in my life. My mom ignited my love and tenderness to vegetables. She also made me very aware of the changing seasons and the land where we were growing up with my sister. I was very fortunate to have traveled plenty with my parents as a child. They would always feed us food they ate, without exceptions: whether it was vegetable fritter made on the street in India or a home-cooked rice made by an old lady we stayed with in Cuba. I grew up in a home where meals were celebrated, but most of all, they were made in a process. Each of us had their own little field where we would grow fresh herbs, beans and vegetables. We also went out for foraging adventures, picking herbs, mushrooms or wild flowers for home-made syrups. My mom used to also take us to local markets and farms, where we would observe how food was grown. We even once had a flock of chicks at home — even we were all vegetarian! All that to make me and my sister aware of the fact where real food is coming from. After all those experiences, I moved out of home to live in London, Paris and, finally, in Tokyo. I think I have always missed feeling at home and grounded, and this is what always pushed me to spend time in the kitchen. Cooking and feeding others gives me comfort and safety, awakens my creativity and, most of all, is my love language. It helps me to stay in the moment and make others sensitive to what’s important to me: seasonal food and the quality of local products.
Cooking and feeding others gives me comfort and safety, awakens my creativity and, most of all, is my love language.
Where do you find inspiration for your culinary creations?

Always in nature. I spend a lot of time in a forest, on a farm, searching for ingredients in the meadows and on farmlands. I can never stop myself from trying something straight from the soil, which not always ends well... I usually don’t go to restaurant, but when I travel, I always try local food: from a local man, who has been grilling fish for the last 40 years or from the farmer whose everyday lunch is raw vegetables with his own olive oil and salt. I visit cooks after work and I try food that they cook outside of the restaurant. I visit markets.

Do you have any all-time favorites products you use for your cooking?

Good olive oil and salt. In that order! These are for me the essentials that always travel with me in pocket versions. Other favorite products change seasonally as I go through different phases. Last year it was fresh marjoram and this year it’s freshly pressed rapeseed oil. And for the last few weeks, I have been absolutely obsessed with fresh, still wet walnuts.

Speaking of going to markets, of finding food in nature… What are the benefits of looking for the products in their source?

I usually try to use products whose origin I know — to the point where I know what soil were they seeded, who was responsible for picking them up (if it wasn’t myself, because that also happens), how much work it required to grow a certain vegetable. It is important for me to know those different variables because they all influence the flavour of the product. What I find interesting about today’s world is that we have such an easy access to the most foreign vegetables, fruits and cuisines… but the awareness about local products is still not very high. Did you know that overgrown asparagus becomes a forest that can be bought at the florist’s, and that the aubergine blossoms with the most beautiful flowers? Not many of my friends knew how mesmerizing can the blossoming beans be. And it’s not that surprising knowing how hard, paradoxically, it is to access fresh, local products. I am constantly amazed with nature and I would like to share this excitement with others at the table. A very simple vegetable can become the best culinary artwork if you use a little bit creativity and good quality products!

Who are your culinary heroes? 

The reason why I have so much tenderness towards food is my mom. I also feel deeply inspired by every old person I met over the years and who was generous enough to cook a meal for me. When it comes to big names… Nigella Lawson — for her potato purée with nutmeg, Francis Mallmann — for working with fire and cooking outdoors. Rachel Roddy for the romanticism of her overcooked broccoli mixed with olive oil, eaten straight from the pot. I am also a great fan of Le Doyenne restaurant: James Edward Henry and Shaun Barney Kelly have created a restaurant just half an hour from Paris, situated on their own farm. I am deeply interested in the work and research of Shūi Ishizaka, a Japanese cook born in Australia, who works mainly with algae and fermentation. 

What is a plant-based diet for you and what’s the most interesting part of cooking vegetables? 

As I mentioned before, plant-based diet has a huge potential. I live in Poland and it’s a great privilege to have such an abundance of vegetables in every season. The way plants can nourish us and give us joy is incredible. Vegetables and fruits carry strong childhood sentiments for everyone. For me, the most fascinating part of cooking vegetables is the fact how much can we get out of them depending on the method. Whether it’s a hearty soup, an energizing salad, sweet jam or pickles… there are so many possibilities of how the same vegetable or fruit can affect us! 

What would be your advice for those who don’t have the natural talent for making food? How to spark the love for cooking?

As a starter, I would encourage everyone to learn about the products. I would suggest going to a farmer’s market and buy a few different kinds of potatoes, only to cook them in salted water and try with a bit of olive oil. I would try various flavor combinations. I would ask myself: what taste do I feel like today: salty, spicy, sour or maybe bitter? I would buy various fresh herbs, different types of oils, just to get to know different flavors and find what is the most convincing one for me. I would also try to recreate my favorite meals from childhood, but in a new, updated version — I would add something new to those flavors, something I really like. I would not just follow other people’s recipes, but rather listen what my body wants and needs, and try to find the best solution for that. To me, this is the most natural way of finding confidence in cooking. Of course, sometimes following difficult recipes can bring a lot of satisfaction, but it is finding what our bodies really need that can bring us the most happiness. 

The way you present your dishes seems to be important to you. How important it is to serve your food on good products?

My surroundings, whether it means the city I live in, my home or my kitchen, are very important to me. It is for me the ultimate mood changer and, again, a form of mindfulness for me. Buying ceramics has always been my great weakness — right next to buying books and different kinds of olive oils. I think it’s also a great way to celebrate even the simplest meals. I put a portion of mashed potatoes on one of ÅOOMI plates and they instantly look like a sophisticated restaurant meal! In an instant, even when I’m having a quick snack on my own, I feel like I’m on a little date with myself. You can always find a reason to celebrate, and isn’t eating from a beautiful plate a celebration?
Gotowanie wyraża moją chęć zatrzymania chwili i uwrażliwienia tych, którym przyjdzie jeść to co ugotowałam: na pory roku, sezonowość, ale również na jakość tego, co uprawiane jest naturalnie.
Gotowanie wyraża moją chęć zatrzymania chwili i uwrażliwienia tych, którym przyjdzie jeść to co ugotowałam: na pory roku, sezonowość, ale również na jakość tego, co uprawiane jest naturalnie.

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