WOJCIECH MODEST AMARO « from the truth. When you look it up in a dictionary, the definition of science is ‘knowledge attained through study or practice’. Consequently, if you ask a farmer who has been growing potatoes for 40 years to sit down and write about the process, it is going to be a scientific paper. Learning about products through experiments in the kitchen or benefiting from the knowledge of your suppliers, producers, farmers, fishermen or hunters is invaluable in terms of building your awareness of the product. “However, each dish is born in a different way, from a different inspiration. Sometimes you figure it out intuitively, sometimes by trial and error. Ideally, things work out right from the start, but sometimes you need to fail to learn 10 other important things. What I like best about creative cooking is that there is no predetermined end. I could even go as far as to say that had I known where the finish line was, I probably wouldn’t have started on this path at all. When I think about my dishes from 10 or 15 years ago, I immediately start to wonder what they are going to look like in another 10 years. What is beautiful is that I really have no clue. “Every chef has his or her own style. Personal. Individual. Unique. So do I. As forests cover 30% of Poland’s territory, my dishes are full of forest aromas and flavours. When you enter my atelier, you can be sure that nature is the main inspiration here, and that the quest to find a seasonal, local and natural product is more than just a style. I want to take all my guests on a journey through Polish flavours while trying
to achieve a very important goal – to stay in their memory. This is also the idea behind the ‘moments’ that we serve. “If you asked anybody to name the best culinary moments in their life, they could be struggling. For an experience to be stored as such in your brain, a number of conditions have to be met. It depends on who we are with and on what occasion, what we expect and what mood we are in. Is the situation pleasant or are we out of our comfort zone? And there is, of course, the taste and look of the dish. Your ‘best of ’ list can include your greatgrandmother’s cheesecake, a wedding cake or Kobe beef eaten in a restaurant in Tokyo that can only accommodate six guests. My ambition is that one – literally one – of my moments makes it into this very personal hall of fame. “I love simple combinations of two or three ingredients that create the ‘Wow!’ effect. They are the core of each dish. I like to describe my dishes in an uncomplicated way: raisin, cucumber and mint; raspberry, turmeric and cornflower; or gooseberry, juniper and meadow-sweet. At first, you are lost – you can’t even decide whether it is going to be served hot or cold, as a starter or the main course. This is part of what I believe to be important in cooking – the element of surprise to bewitch your guests. Naturally, I love the forest and everything that comes with it: hazels, birches, lilacs, spruces, firs, junipers, larches, beeches, linden trees, mosses, lichen, mushrooms and berries. “Some 95% of the ingredients I use in my atelier are local Polish products, which we often pick ourselves in forests »
LEFT Kitchen-side dining at atelier Amaro. RIGHT Week 46: guinea fowl / sunflower / chicory.