Miłosz Grabowski – the head chef at the Hotel pod Różą in Krakow at Restaurant pod Różą and Chef Room. He learned the workshop from the best in London. He worked with such greats as Gordon Ramsay and Chef Clare Smyth. He spent 10 years in the most prestigious places in London gastronomy, which gave him confidence in creating his own ideas.
The Best Chef: How did your adventure with gastronomy begin?
Milosz Grabowski: My adventure with gastronomy began 15 years ago and it started quite spontaneously, because it was supposed to be a holiday stay in England for 2 months, and then these 2 months turned into 10 years. My colleagues and managers liked the fact that I was fast, I was thorough, and then they told me: Why go back to Poland, stay here with us. Learn to cook with us! Every year I started to like it more and more. I was deeper, deeper and deeper in it. The most important thing was to learn something all the time. Every time I go to the next level, to the better level. Once I wanted to work in a 4-star hotel, then I wanted to work in a 5-star hotel. When I was a Chef of the partie I thought I wanted to be a junior sous chef or a Sous chef but in a better place.
The Best Chef: How many years you were in England and how did it happen that you came back to Poland?
Milosz Grabowski: I was in England for 10 years and I came back to Poland after my wife was persuaded to do so. My wife wanted to start a family, settle down a bit. My work was very hard, sometimes 6 days a week, starting at 7:30 am and finishing at 1-2 am, 4 hours of sleep was a luxury for me. So, my wife and I didn’t have much time together, but I still wanted to work a few more months to learn even more. For the last year in London, my wife was saying: „Okay, last 3 months and we go back.” And then I extended these 3 months for another 3 months. But we finally come back.
It was a beautiful time in terms of learning, but my wife and I wanted something more from life, we knew that we were getting older and should strive for stability. Hence the idea to return to Poland and start a family. I do not regret this decision, I am very happy that I ended up at the Pod Różą restaurant, which was recommended to me by my chef friends from London who said that it is the only place in Poland where you can really cook. And that is how I found myself here.
The Best Chef: How would you define your cooking style?
Milosz Grabowski: Being a restaurant in a hotel we must be flexible. We must do everything. Starting with breakfasts, employee dinners, then a lunch menu, dinner and tasting menu.
The philosophy is that the product is crucial, we treat it with respect, not spoiling it, no matter if it’s foie gras from France, local beef tenderloin, or a fried egg for breakfast.
The cooking at our two restaurants is different because at the Rose we want to go into “casual dining”, we want to be open to all guests, create a friendly atmosphere where the food is simple, tasty and comfortable. We are based on the concept of loose appetizers that can be eaten with your hands, and guests have the opportunity to personalize their dishes. Frivolity reigns, and we focus primarily on what nature, the sea and what is available at any given time.
As for the Chef Room restaurant, the concept will be a little different. It will be based on a short tasting menu consisting of up to seven dishes. Guests will be seated at two-person tables placed in close proximity to each other, they will be served at one time and everyone will get the same menu. There will be one service and no personalization of dishes. The restaurant will only be open 4-5 days a week during evening hours.
In the Chef Room, chefs will have an important role in the whole performance, they will go out to the guests, present the products, pour the sauce over the dishes, do the so-called “silver service”.
We want to integrate with the guests to see how the kitchen and our work looks like from the inside.
The Best Chef: What does Polish cuisine mean to you?
Milosz Grabowski: Because of the location and the fact that this is the oldest hotel in Cracow – the royal city, we have a lot of Polish touches and dishes in our menu, but we do not close ourselves to other cuisines either. We are open to different cuisines.
In our restaurant, we have two groups of guests – tourists who come to Krakow and are curious about our Polish cuisine and local people who would like to experiment with other cuisines, who are ready for new flavours and we adjust to it, we do not pigeonhole ourselves or close ourselves within one cuisine.
The Best Chef: What is a chef’s job like on a daily basis?
Milosz Grabowski: It’s hard, but it’s fun. We have better and worse days. I have a very nice team in the kitchen who want to learn, who are ready to work on their days off, because sometimes it is necessary, they don’t mind staying longer or coming earlier, they care about learning, but not only they learn from me, I also learn something from them every day.
The Best Chef: What products do you make yourselves in the restaurant?
Milosz Grabowski: We make our own bread, pralines, pasta, preserves, and pickles. Our products play an important role in our dishes, we use cranberries for our cream cheese dessert, our pickled sea bream for our pork or veal cutlet served with tartar sauce, pickled vegetables, pickled Polish grapes as bread toppings, and thanks to the fact that we make our own preserves when they are available we can serve them later even in winter. We do what we are able to do ourselves.
The Best Chef: What are your plans for the future?
Milosz Grabowski: Unfortunately, nowadays it is hard to plan anything. Our main plan in 2020 was to reopen our restaurant and we succeeded, but after 2 months, we had to close it again.
I would like the restaurant to be open to the public when it reopens after the pandemic, for guests to feel comfortable and to be a place where you can eat good simple food, have a cocktail and listen to good music.
I am also looking forward to the opening of the Chef’s Room and reaching out to a group of more discerning guests.