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POLAND’S GOT TALENT

Pascal Brodnicki
Chef
You may have tuned into his TV
program, which in 2005 was awarded
the Culinary Oscar. Or come across his
ingenious pocket-size cookbook, which
has already sold over 100,000 copies –
it fits easily into a lady’s handbag and
can be fished out in a supermarket
when a new idea for lunch or supper is
wanting. Pascal Brodnicki, 30, the young
celebrity chef, sometimes dubbed ‘the
Polish Jamie Oliver’ has transformed the
kitchens and eating habits of thousands
of Polish TV viewers. With his
unmistakable, adorable French accent
and slightly broken Polish, a direct, laidback approach, an unbridled
temperament, charisma and camerafriendly looks he is probably currently
the most popular and recognisable
cuisinier over the Vistula.
He garnered his culinary education in
France (his mother laughs when she
remembers the state of their kitchen

“Cooking (...)
is real art.”

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flat canvas. He does, however, continue
to paint when the mood takes him,
entirely at random, creating whimsical
images set in tones of deep eggplant
purple and rich variegated shades of
brown, such as the portrait entitled, ‘I
could have been a playboy but I’m just a
regular donkey.’ Michalski also believes
his titles are an integral part of his work
– providing background and clues to the
artist’s intention which, we all know too
well, is not always so transparent.
His subjects are mainly organic
things: living things such as people and
animals or the objects that are so much
a part of everyday life, such as teapots,
teacups, flowerpots, a miniature piano
or doll-like figures framed in boxes of

Joyful Cooking

TEXT BY
MICHAŁ B.
PARADOWSKI

when he was learning to make puff
pastry), and graduated from two
gastronomy schools, one in France, the
other in Basque Country. Over 16 years,
he moved through various restaurants
in his homeland (including Michelin 2
Star venues), moving on when he felt
there was nothing more to learn from a
place. In Poland, he rustled up dishes at
the Bristol and Sheraton hotels, under
Kurt Scheller, who subsequently invited
him to run courses at his Culinary
Academy. It was during one of them that
a TV producer unexpectedly offered
Pascal a culinary TV program. The offer
struck home – the challenge of
deposing the pork chop from the
Sunday table in Polish homes and
teaching families new recipes
encouraged Pascal to reply, “We can
give it a try.” In his program he doesn’t
seek healthier foods; rather, he tries to
convince people to
change their menu
daily and to propose a
joyful diversion for the
palate: “Strictly
speaking, everything in
the kitchen is a matter
of the atmosphere,”
and adds that,
“Cooking is not merely
a matter of stirring oil
and chopping onions;
it is real art.”
Sometimes on the
program, squeezed

and concealed behind the pots, you will
catch a glimpse of his shaggy friend –
Klusek (‘le Clouseque’), a mutt with
bat’s ears, a granddad’s beard, buttonlike eyes and a yellow streak, adopted
from a shelter nine years ago. He looked
long and thin at the time of his
adoption, “like spaghetti,” Pascal
explains, “but I would never call him
that in English; I thought spaghetti is
‘kluska’ in Polish. No masculine form
exists, so I whipped it up” – the chef
thus reveals the onomastics of his fourlegged companion’s name (he has
another, a spotted one named Pepe,
whose spots mysteriously multiply
between my visits).
In Poland, he misses France’s warmth
and sunlight, and the autumn and
winter are definitely too long for him.
This is why, when he gets the rare two
weeks off with his girlfriend, they
choose sunnier climates, such as
Morocco, from where he invariably
brings original spices. Occasionally, they
travel together with Karol Okrasa—
another young culinary star and chef at
the Bristol hotel — and his wife. Pascal
appreciates the fact that he had the
opportunity to travel extensively and
learn along the way – new things, new
food… Despite this, he is partial to
Polish holiday traditions, and although
he spends Christmas with his
grandparents in France enjoying
venison, truffles and wine, he does so
reminiscing about Poland.

various sizes and sorts – the latter
represented by one single piece left
over from his last major collection
entitled ‘Claustrophobia.’
In his most recent collection,
Michalski is heading in exactly the
opposite direction, which he considers
a natural progression of his oeuvre,
which also looks to address
contradictions in both life and art.
The new collection is titled ‘SMS’
which stands for Small Mobile Society,
featuring curious figures of people in
bronze or brass, perched atop rather
long legs that are fixed onto a stone
base fitted with a set of wheels.
“It’s rather a figurative sort of mobility.
The figures aren’t necessarily intended

for movement, however they do
symbolise the potential for mobility,”
explains Michalski.
According to Michalski, all of his
works are the result of some anecdote
told to him by his acquaintances, which
flower in his mind and often translate
into his next project. He uses timehonoured techniques to bring these
ideas to life, at times incorporating a
variety of materials along with antiques
or found objects to create a
composition reminiscent of folk art of
extraordinary craftsmanship.
There are, however, a number of such
tales Michalski has yet to explore, such
as the story of the octogenarian
>>
tightrope walker.
w w w. w a rs a w i n s i d e r. p l

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