(Photo: Marriott International)

A Taste of Good Travel

How Warsaw’s Chef Michał Tkaczyk Elevates Local Ingredients at Marconi Restaurant

You could say that chef Michał Tkaczyk and the Hotel Bristol, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Warsaw have a hard time keeping away from each other. Chef Tkaczyk has served three different stints in the kitchen of the iconic Warsaw hotel, and each time he’s returned a different person and a much more seasoned chef.

The Warsaw native’s culinary interest sparked in the kitchen of his childhood home, watching his mom cook local Polish staples to a delicious degree. On holidays and special occasions, he’d get a real treat: His grandparents worked in tandem to create one special meal. “My grandfather’s hobby was hunting,” he says. “On many special occasions my grandmother always prepared the game dishes my grandfather caught.”

(Photo: Marriott International)

In part inspired by his family’s food-focused traditions, when chef Tkaczyk was finishing up primary school and considered what he wanted to do with his life, he found only one answer: cooking.

A prolific culinary education soon followed: He enrolled in the renowned Academy of Hotel Management and Catering Industry in Poznań. Then he went on to complete a program at the School of Tourism, Hospitality, and Gastronomy in Warsaw. Finally, as if that weren’t enough training, he also studied at the Warsaw School of Gastronomy. Think he was ready for a job in the kitchen? Tak, as they say in Polish. Yes.

Armed with standout credentials, Tkaczyk landed a job in the kitchen at Miramonti l’Altro, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Brescia, Italy. In 1992, chef Tkaczyk had his first stint at the Hotel Bristol, where he was able to further hone his kitchen skills among fellow professional chefs.

After a few years, he left. “This time it was for a great adventure: four years of work on the biggest ferry on the Baltic Sea as the Chef de Partie,” he explains.

He again returned to Hotel Bristol as executive chef, having bolstered his culinary knowledge through exposure to other kitchens in other lands. He again left in 2014 to embark on new adventures, only to return to Hotel Bristol three years later. He now runs the kitchen at the lauded Marconi restaurant.

Every time chef Tkaczyk returns to the Hotel Bristol, he brings with him a fresh set of skills. Credit that to traveling. “Traveling gives [the] possibility to discover an original native culinary heritage,” he says. “You also discover a new culture of other people and cooking techniques which later you can utilize, combined with using local ingredients as some kind of fusion.”

Of course, Chef Tkaczyk is quick to note that many standards of Polish fare remain much beloved across the city and beyond, and most families hold tight and fast to recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation, like traditional pierogies — doughy dumplings stuffed with savory or sweet fillings.

Still, much has changed in the food and dining world since his first stint in Warsaw.

(Photo: Marriott International)

“I was lucky to start my culinary journey in Italy and later in Hotel Bristol, Warsaw, where many managers and chefs were bringing ideas and techniques from [Poland and] abroad,” says Chef Tkaczyk. “It gave me a fresh and creative look at my job, my profession. Now, we are cooking like our chef colleagues in other parts of the world, using the similar techniques and technologies.”

In fact, Chef Tkaczyk explains the Warsaw’s cuisine — from from high-brow restaurants to street food — trends toward the international, noting that food trucks serving dishes from around the globe now dot the city streets.

All of which has put him in a perfect position to absorb the current food trend of the last decade: using local, seasonal ingredients.

“For a few years now, there has been a renaissance of Polish local cuisine, which is an interesting combination of many different cuisines because of our historical past experiences, influences from our neighbors.”

Chef Tkaczyk shares a favorite hobby of his: shopping at Hala Mirowska, a market in the city center. Here he can buy the city’s freshest produce — seasonal fruits and vegetables in brilliant, colorful display — and gains inspiration for dishes like a tomato carpaccio, chock full of unusual tomato varieties, which he pairs with a zander tartare topped with bright dill and Polish caviar.

The flavors, he explains, showcase a heady combination of delicate and sweet fresh water fish, the sourness of tomatoes and rhubarb, dill oil, and caviar — all of which are enhanced by the smoke of beech wood.

“It’s an adventure that needs to be experienced,” Chef Tkaczyk says.

Among other locally sourced standouts on the menu, diners will find a classic beef tartare with a regional twist: seasoned beef, anchovies, pickled cucumbers from Hajnówka, burnt shallot, marinated mushrooms and fresh lovage.

Three or four main ingredients combined with some condiments to keep [the] best harmony – that is my rule.

Chef Michał Tkaczyk

Also, thanks to his time in Italy and his subsequent proclivity toward Italian cuisine, Chef Tkaczyk’s cooking style embraces simplicity. “It is of utmost importance not to ‘overload’ the dish with too many ingredients,” he says. “Three or four main ingredients combined with some condiments to keep [the] best harmony — that is my rule.”

Chef Tkaczyk believes that his dishes specifically, and Polish cuisine in general, make the most striking impression when they are served in modern, straightforward styles — steering clear of anything too heavy, so that it is adapted to a contemporary palate.

But of course, dining and cooking is a dialogue between the chef and the guests. And this chef has been listening to what his guests are saying. “We have two Michelin-starred restaurants in Warsaw now, and our guests are traveling more and more, and their expectations are growing, as well. We strive to prepare [the] best food and provide the most excellent service, especially in a luxury hotel like ours.”

Michał Tkaczyk’s Top Dishes

Mille Feuille

Farm-Fed Duck Breast

Chilled Beetroot Soup