Marek Jani – Head Chef in UK with a long track as chef
Marek Jani – Head Chef in UK with a long track as chef.
Today you are Head Chef in UK; with a long track as chef. When did all start/ when did you know to become a chef?
It all started when I chose to go to a Chef College at the age of 15, I chose that as my career path and to this day I believe it was the best decision of my life. The reason for that being because it’s not only my work ,but my passion and hobby. I feel very happy and the people I met along the way only helped to enrich my skills and experience.
Which cooking school did you visit at the beginning of your chef career?
I chose the Gastronomy and Hospitality School Group in Wisla, to study the subjects of collective nutrition technology. There, I learnt the principals of gastronomy for 4 years, as well as culinary skills, knowledge of microbiology and other useful things. This includes aesthetics and organic chemistry which in the following years gave me a big advantage because I had knowledge which cannot be obtained through practical means. You need to academically learn these things.
Later in my career I also chose to undertake a masterclass course in Warsaw run by Kurt Scheller to enhance my qualifications to a master level which enabled me to broaden my understanding, gain a new perspective on how to cook today, and what the latest methods and possibilities are for chefs. I got the chance to experience complicated and advanced culinary techniques, as well as meeting new chefs which was a very fruitful experience for me.
After so many experiences in different kitchens; how would you describe your culinary line today?
My kitchen is a very traditional kitchen based on classical recipes with the addition of new/revolutionary ideas. However, I still think that the most important thing in any kitchen is the chef, their creativity, quality of ingredients, the ability to merge them and expose their best qualities. Adding too much seasoning or mixing too many ingredients doesn’t represent my kitchen’s true nature, that’s why I think that my kitchen is very simple but simultaneously delicious and differentiated. It’s a European kitchen in which you can observe the multiple influences of other kitchens such as French, Italian, Polish, and English among others, which stem from my journey to date.
Within the UK you have long experiences in different chef positions and places. What are the real good British dishes, which probably not known well?
It depends on the chef, even the simplest dish such as fish and chips can taste fantastic if the chef making it sources the ingredients well and knows their craft. However apart from that no dishes spring to mind.
Your roots are in Poland. The polish kitchen is very traditional with great regional sources. Do you use today some of the good polish menus?
The Polish kitchen allows me to move over a lot of culinary techniques into the English kitchen which aren’t even that different, they are both heavily influenced by the French kitchen. Today these kitchens have been drawn much closer to each-other, the truth is that regional cooking is what allows for distinguishable differences between kitchens, recipes that haven’t been changed for 100s of years. I support myself with the Polish kitchen when cooking English dishes because like I’ve said a lot of dishes are practically identical these days, you just need to find the subtle differences that make them unique but overall these two kitchens share a lot in common.
The supply of ingredients for a restaurant becomes more and more important. Do you work close with some local producers?
For years now I’ve worked together with the largest amount of local producers I can, during the last few years I’ve met with a lot of small producers too. I’ve met farmers and people who are very passionate about what they do. They’re past chefs who have started producing their own marinades for example, jams and other similar products. And they present them at local Saturday markets so people can really try something that doesn’t just come from a supermarket and is unique in flavour. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet a lot of local producers through my work with the Sustainable Restaurant Association, through which I’ve been able to sample a lot of products that are only available from select farms and are unique in the scale of England as a whole. Meats included, for a long time I’ve been using pork from Jimmy Butlers’ farm in Norfolk, there’s a lot of involvement of work with Butchers like Nebriale who has taught me a lot about meat, beef, pork and lamb. This has allowed me to use and understand these meats with more competence in the kitchen. Knowing more about the processes of production, storage, use and maturing of the meat.
Lots of foreign chefs would like to work in UK: do you have any recommendation for them how they shall start?
I don’t think there’s a golden rule about working in England , everyone has their own style, their ambitions, and what they want to achieve. I think the most important thing is good research before coming to England, finding the right place, the right kind of restaurant as well as region in England because they differ in style and types of restaurants. There are places that are more designed towards new methods of cooking, newer kitchens, follow the latest trends. There are also places where you can have the chance to cook beautiful dishes whist enjoying the surrounding areas for their sights, culture, and people. Which is why I believe that it’s a very individual experience on how one should begin their career in Great Britain, I think the most important thing is understanding why you are here, what you want to achieve and what goal you are striving towards.
If you could choose a country in the world to take a chef job for some time, where would it be?
At the moment Dubai or Abu Dhabi would be the dream. The reason for this is because of all the latest cooking trends and methods are brought there from chefs from all over the world. Just experiencing this for a short period of time would be fantastic, meeting so many chefs, coming from all around the world, representing whatever is the best of the best in the culinary world. I think it would be the dream for any chef to go there for a short period of time to meet all these people, see the differences in ingredients and cooking techniques, share experience and knowledge with other people.
Thank you very much, Marek!