Robert Trzópek is a famous ambassador of minimalism on a plate. He was one of the first Polish chefs to practice what could be called the cuisine of the future, often applying the sous vide method. He is a perfectionist who doesn't tolerate any weaknesses or shortcuts in the kitchen.
Robert Trzópek, one of the best Polish chefs, developed his professional skills in several legendary restaurants: Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons in Oxford, Noma in Copenhagen and elBulli in Spain. After his return to Poland, he worked as the head chef in Warsaw's Tamka 43 and The Harvest restaurants. He is currently the chef of the restaurant at the Holiday Inn Warsaw – Józefów hotel.
He comes from the Tricity in the north of Poland. He was born in Gdynia, and spent his childhood and youth in Gdańsk. He already wanted to become a cook when he was a young child. His grandmother had a lot of impact on him in this regard – he used to help her prepare home made dishes.
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Trzópek's first job in gastronomy was at his friends' fried fish shop in the seaside. He later polished his skills at restaurants, e.g. in Gdańsk in Długa Street, or at the Oliwa Manor (Dwór Oliwski). The chef at the latter hotel restaurant imported ingredients from France, thus making the young cook aware of the importance of the quality of produce.
In 2003, Trzópek went to Great Britain to further improve his skills. He wanted to work with the best, and he managed to achieve that. First, he was an apprentice in Guildford, near London. In his opinion, his true breakthrough came while he was working at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons in Oxford. The restaurant, in which he he spent three years, holds two Michelin stars, and has had such famous employees as Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumental. At Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, Trzópek was responsible for amuse-bouche, hot and cold starters, fish, garnishes, sauces, vegetables, meats, and patisserie. He recalls that, while working abroad, he was most astonished by the regular use of highest quality products. In Trzópek's opinion, it is the ingredients that determines a dish's flavour.
One of the key figures in his culinary education was René Redzepi from Copenhagen's Noma (on multiple occasions hailed as one of the best restaurants in the world). Trzópek worked there for two years as a hot station chef: he was responsible for hot appetizers, main dishes, fish, meats, and sauces. He doesn't hide the fact that working under the extremely demanding Redzepi helped him to get an internship at elBulli in 2008. It was a huge success, as at that time the legendary Ferran Adrià, thanks to whom the Spanish restaurant received worldwide recognition and three Michelin stars, attracted about four thousand candidates.
At elBulli, Robert Trzópek came across another gastronomic celebrity, whom he looks up to: Thomas Keller – the chef at another three-star venue, the French Laundry in California. He also hopes to meet Marco Pierre White, whose autobiography he has read five times.
After his internship at elBulli, Trzópek returned to Poland. He spent a little while in Gdańsk, and then moved to Warsaw, where he began co-heading the Tamka 43 restaurant. It was thanks to his innovative approach that the venue received the 2nd Prize in the Wine & Food Noble Night project, and three Michelin fork-and-spoons.
I like to constantly subject my customer's culinary preferences to tests. Poles are now ready to experience surprising flavour combinations. However, there are a few rules which I always follow. Fresh, natural ingredients and dishes selected according to the seasons. A Polish element in each dish, as we make sure to use local products, e.g. the hotel's beehive. Finally, a simple menu, as I base my work on seasonal produce and meals prepared entirely on site. That is how I composed the menu at the Holiday Inn hotel in Józefów.
– Trzópek declared in an interview.
Even though he auditioned for a role as a jury member on the Polish edition of Master Chef, he says of himself that he shies away from the limelight. On the contrary, he appreciates balance in life. He likes to take public transport to work, and reads his emails on the phone. When he is fulfilled professionally, he would like to teach at culinary arts schools.
He hopes that one day Warsaw's culinary offerings will be comparable to that of London or Copenhagen.
Read more about contemporary Polish chefs:
Magdalena Kasprzyk – Chevriaux, July 2014, transl. Ania Micińska, March 2015
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