Bart Wieczorkiewicz – Demi Chef de Partie | King’s College, Cambridge
Bart Wieczorkiewicz learned from the best like Hans Schweitzer or Clare Smyth. In this lovely Q&A Bart talks about his beginnings as a chef, his current position at King’s College, Cambridge, and what being a chef means to him.
A chef portrait with Bart Wieczorkiewicz.
Today you work as Demi Chef de Partie at the King’s College Cambridge. Where did your journey start as a chef?
My journey started when I was 28 years old I was asked by my flat mate if I want to get extra money “cash in hand” that time I was working in printing company scanning and copying documents 9 to 5 Monday to Friday extremely boring job.
He said it’s kitchen porter job in very prestigious “Cotto” restaurant in Cambridge runs by Hans Schweitzer (Master Chef and Master Chocolatier) with his wonderful wife Ruth. Since day one I fall in love with the food they produced especially Chefs desserts were to die for also the atmosphere and most importantly with lovely people that makes me feel so welcomed and be a part of their fantastic family buissnes. I admired how good he was to his staff. I was offered a full-time position for better money and after couple of months I was mentored by Hans to become a commis chef. I still keep in touch with him to this day.
What is the best thing about being a chef?
Personally, I think is an amazing journey through your life, it’s the passion, dedication, bringing back memories with dishes that you remember as a kid it very magical moment. More importantly that’s the most beautiful job that you can eat, get paid and travel at the same time.
Which cooking school did you visit?
I’m studying part time once a week at the best culinary college in UK, Westminster Kingsway College in London. Currently I’m finishing my Advanced Diploma in Professional Cookery level 3. This month September 2018 I have enrolled for another part time Patisserie and Confectionary Course which will take two more years to archive a pastry chef qualification.
You enjoyed a training with the Michelin Starred Chef, one of the best female chef in the world, Clare Smyth. What has been your greatest learning?
I was at the “Core by Clare Smyth” restaurant as a stagier chef for two weeks. Working alongside Clare “The Best Female Chef in The World” and her amazing team surely was one hell of an experience. I’ve learned so much not only inspiring recipes and technics behind those fantastic dishes, but also discipline, kitchen rules, hygiene and how to behave being a part of the team on very top level 3* Michelin training standards, not mentioning the hours 16 to 18 per day!
I had a pleasure to meet the most dedicated Sous Chef in London 😉 Antonio “El Capitano” also the most inspiring Head Chef Jonny Bone truly the leader and right-hand Chefs Clare.
The greatest moment at the Core was being on the pass plating up awesome desserts, pastry chef he kind of trusted me that I won’t fuck it up. Surprisingly I did produce “boss” looking plates as Chef Clare she was checking every dish before sending to the guests. At the end of my stage I had a chat with Chef in her office she asked me what’s my plans for the future a bit of my background saying that the Core doors are open for me “any time”. I felt very proud of myself that I didn’t gave up the hard work my passion, desire and dedication to archive my goals was noticed by Clare Smyth. Loved every second of it.
How would you describe your culinary line today?
The progress I have made over this year 2018 is unbelievable. I took part in four competitions archiving Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in UK prestigious competitions for Chefs also Best in Class at Hotelympia 2018 London the best show in UK and Semi Final at Touge d’Or Student Chef of the year. How would I describe it? I suppose I still catching up and trying to find my own Bart’s style, I have my favourite signature dishes that still needs improving but without a doubt I’m on the right truck.
Does seasonal cooking matter in your current role as Demi Chef de Partie at King’s College, Cambridge?
Absolutely yes, being recently promoted to Chef de Partie and responsible for inventing the new menu dishes for the Fellows and running day to day the meat, veg and cold section. Understanding coasting and seasonal ingredients makes me a very instrumental chef at the Kings.
The regional/local supply gains more importance: Do you have as well some local partners?
I’m more then certain that supporting the local suppliers and getting what’s the best in season it’s very beneficial. We source our ingredients locally from people who care. My local partners are my neighbour bakery “Stir Bakery Cambridge” they make the best sourdough bread in Cambridge 😉
The King’s College Cambridge is famous and well known. How would you describe its kitchen?
We look after the 300 hungry students, 100 very hungry staff members, on top of that we cook for the weddings, Buffets and Canapes for any occasions, Functions and private dinning dinners not mentioning Royal families for example Princess from Abu Dhabi was staying at the college for the weekend in august 2018. Our approaches it’s the same either we cook for royal families or students.
As the college has many international students, how does it influence the culinary set up?
The self-service cafeteria at King’s provides breakfast, lunch and dinners for our students. We have to offer more choices of healthy and nutritious food. Considering allergens with a range of hot and cold dishes, including vegetarian options, traditional international dishes and vegan alternatives every day.
Which dish is loved by all the students; never mind where they come from?
Definitely Fish and Chips served every Friday it’s the winner.
Is there a traditional dish that is still served throughout the years?
It’s got to be the pasta dishes like carbonara, lasagne, meatballs or spaghetti Bolognese.
The canteen catering/cooking has changed and is still changing a lot. Which trends/ tendencies do you see in this segment?
Absolutely over these years the cooking trends change dramatically. I have noticed that we have to cook more gluten free, vegetarian, vegan and I would say gut-friendly dishes using ramen, kimchi or kefir probiotics will go down particularly well in UK. I’ve also seen more movement from food waste which is great for chefs to use every part of a vegetable. This will encourage me to get more creative.
Is there any typical Cambridge cuisine/dish?
It has to be Fitzbillies bakery since 1920 serving amazing traditional sticky Chelsea Buns. Highly recommended.
You have been awarded with The Gold Medal for “The Chicken Challenge”. What was your signature dish?
My signature dish for the Major International Chefs Competition was Chicken Ballotine stuffed with Black Pudding & Blue Cheese / Buerre Noisette Sweetcorn Puree / Truffle Purple Potatoes / Apple Cider & Chicken Jus served with Seasonal Vegetables. I was experimenting with the flavour combinations practising the dish many times. I was happy to sever that dish to the top judges in the country. I had fantastic feedback, being invited to cook live in the grand final next year at the Hotelympia in London it was very rewarding experience.
Where do you get your inspiration for new creations from?
I’m getting inspirations from everywhere I can really include traveling, chefs’ websites, cooking books, magazines, talking to my Head Chef and lecturers in college from culinary competitions and most importantly using my imagination, creativity and not being afraid to try new techniques and flavour paring. Being a chef, I’m constantly looking for new ideas never stop learning.
Can you share one or two of your latest dishes/recipes with us?
Sure, I’ll be more than happy to share with you my gold medal recipe:
Is there a place in the world where you would like to work as a chef one day?
I would love to experience new cuisines, that’s something I have always dreamed off is to work for a year or two in Caribbean Islands especially Barbados.
Thank you very much, Bart!