Baron is one of the best known chefs of the young generation. He's on a mission to bring Polish cuisine back to its former glory.
Never before has Polish cuisine had so many opportunities – says Aleksander Baron.
By supporting this centuries-old tradition, he breaks stereotypes and brings a new quality to Polish gastronomy. His recipe for success? Regional Polish products. To Baron, it's not just about quality and taste but also about health and conscious choice. Baron's passion for food is contagious and he gladly shares his experiences, thereby contributing to the creation of a new Polish culinary identity. He's a history of art graduate from the University of Warsaw, and he also studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. From the Polish capital he wandered off to Scotland, where he made a living washing dishes in a restaurant. That was just the beginning of his great adventure. He spent four years in Scotland, which taught him work ethics and respect for ingredients. After climbing the culinary ladder step by arduous step he made it to the top – he served food to Queen Elizabeth II on her birthday and became chef de cuisine at a restaurant in Edinburgh.
He returned to Warsaw in 2009. He managed a restaurant called Nowy Wspaniały Świat. A year later, in 2010, he opened his own place – Solec 44 in the Warsaw district Powiśle. In Solec, laid-back, old-school design meets contemporary Polish cuisine. The menu changes daily and depends on the creativity of his team, the season and availability of ingredients. He selects them with piety. He has put together a catalogue of suppliers thus helping local producers reach more clients. For this reason, his restaurant ranks among the best on the culinary map of Warsaw. Culinary critic Maciej Nowak, known for his uncompromising tastes, comments:
Aleksander Baron offers interesting, innovative and novel solutions, all the while respecting culinary traditions. He won't hesitate to offer you offal. The menu in Solec not only has liver, heart, kidneys and marrow but also sweetbreads, cheeks and testicles.
Baron uses unique products from local producers. His cuisine is considered controversial. At a press lunch organised by the Polish Institute in Paris for the Fete de la Gastronomie he served lampreys, bison meat from supervised slaughter and craft dry cottage cheese with honeycomb. In Solec 44, Baron doesn't want to introduce any other cuisine than Polish, but as he says "Polish cuisine is multicultural and that opens a lot of doors". And so he cooks sweetbread in caramel sauce, bull testicles, snail roe and pasta with goat halvah (a brilliant cheese from goat whey from the "Kozia Łąka" Sokołowski family farm near Jelenia Góra), and homemade syrups from sea-buckthorn or oak bark.
Aleksander Baron also organises culinary and sensory workshops. He has authored many articles about contemporary Polish cuisine for various magazines (Zwierciadło, Kukbuk). He has been experimenting with the process of fermentation for years now, contributing to contemporary food processing by reviving the ages-old tradition of fermentation and pickling in Polish cuisine. Baron's experimental approach situates him in the avant-garde of contemporary Polish cuisine. He re-reads the history of Poland, taking care of cultural heritage and multi-cultural traditions of Poland which he attempts to reflect in his cooking.
Baron is a lecturer of Food Studies at SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities and Food Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź.
Originally written in Polish by Magdalena Kasprzyk-Chevriaux, translator: MJ 30/10/2014, updated by NS, March 2017.