Two Chefs, One Cup: The Polish Culinary Cup

Posted by - December 30, 2014 | Category: Canteen

Kulinarny Puchar Polski, POLAGRA GASTRO, Poznan, Poland

Polish Culinary Cup, Polagra Gastro International Fair, Poznan, Poland 2014

Growing up in a family fueled by fast-food, and a father who’d routinely say things like, “Fingers were made before forks,” I’ve a gullet engineered to gobble, not to graze. And while my dear old Ma did her best at catering to the hungry mass, food was served in slabs, not slivers.

Magnitude routinely took precedence over calibre.

Polish Culinary Cup, Polagra Gastro International Fair, Poznan, Poland-077

In short, we were not fancy people. Meals were no-nonsense. There were no fancy dinners out. Presentation amounted to a surly “Come and get it!”, followed by a stampede of gruel grabbing and cutlery clinking (when cutlery was needed that is.)

Finals of Polish Culinary Cup, Polagra Gastro International Fair, Poznan, Poland

It was every man (and my poor dear Ma) for themselves.

Polish Culinary Cup, Kuliinary Puchar Polski, Polagra Gastro International Fair, Poznan, Poland

So that’s my starting point, my frame of reference for food.

Enter the Polish Culinary Cup (Kulinary Puchar Polski), the most prestigious competition for food professionals in all of Poland. And the epitome of fancy.

Polish Culinary Cup, Polagra Gastro International Fair, Poznan, Poland Robert and Darius entry

The 2014 edition saw 12 teams compete for cash prizes, and the glib satisfaction that comes from besting your peers. Held in Poznan every year since its inception in 2000, The Polish Culinary Cup is one of the main events at POLAGRA GASTRO, Poland’s International Trade Fair for Gastronomy.

Polish Culinary Cup, Polagra Gastro International Fair, Poznan, Poland -- television interview contestants

For the semi-final, teams were required to complete two dishes – a hot starter, and a dessert. Compulsory ingredients for the starter included scallops, pumpkin, and something called “quince,” which from what I gather is something like a pear. The dessert needed to include sugar cane, white chocolate, raspberry, and – wait for it – beetroot.

Because nothing says dessert like beets.

Polish Culinary Cup, Polagra Gastro International Fair, Poznan, Poland -- dessert semi-final

There’s even a weight requirement – starter between 80 and 90 grams, dessert between 100 and 200 grams.

The ingredients for the final main dish included kale, fresh blueberries, and veal sirloin.

Polish Culinary Cup, Polagra Gastro International Fair, Poznan, Poland  2014 Final

What the chefs created here at the Polish Culinary Cup is nothing short of art. I have to admit, when I think of Polish food, I conjure images of pierogies and kielbasa and pretty much anything to do with cabbage. And soups. They seem like soup people to me for some peculiar reason. Those are the things that pop into my mind.

Or at least that used to be the case.

 Kuliinary Puchar Polski, Polish Culinary Cup, Polagra Gastro International Food Fair, Poznan, Poland

The Polish Culinary Cup, and indeed the entire POLAGRA GASTRO fair opened my sterotyping eyes — not all Polish foods are created equal. While there is of course plenty of traditional Polish foods anywhere you go in Poland, the food here is a lot more diverse nowadays since the fall of Communism.

This is not your father’s Poland.

There’s a thriving culinary scene at play here today, with professionals at the top of their game.

 Kuliinary Puchar Polski 2014, Polish Culinary Cup, Polagra Gastro International Fair, Poznan, Poland

And even a gruel-grabbing, cutlery-clinking Neanderthal like me can appreciate that.

 Kuliinary Puchar Polski, Polish Culinary Cup 2014, Polagra Gastro International Fair, Poznan, Poland

In case you’re interested, the winners of the Polish Culinary Cup 2014 are:

  • 1st place – Przemysław Gryz and Łukasz Ziętek
  • 2nd place – Daniel Olas and Dawid Szkudlarek
  • 3rd place – Katarzyna Daniłowicz and Bogumił Mroczko

I have no idea what they called their concoctions. I’m still not that fancy. Yet.

Entry into Polish Culinary Cup, Polagra Gastro International Fair, Poznan, Poland

The Polish Culinary Cup 2015

The next Polish Culinary Cup will be held on September 22 & 23, 2015 at the POLAGRA GASTRO International Food Fair in Poznan, Poland at the Poznan Congress Center.

My visit to Poland was organized on behalf of the Polish Economy Promotion Program in Canada. Its aim is to promote the Polish food sector and encourage business contacts between Polish and Canadian companies within the industry.

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49 comments - add one
  1. Love the redesign of your website! I also have Polish heritage, too, and was expecting kielbasa and pierogies at this event. But, the food they presented looks impressive, especially if it included beets. 😉

  2. You are absolutely right, Poles are soup people, and they make soup out of everything you can imagine, besides your typical chicken or sauerkraut. There’s strawberry soup, rhubarb soup, and cherry soup in the summer, when the fruit is plentiful, and wild mushroom soup when the mushrooms start growing in the forests. There’s even sorrel soup.

    But what you saw at the Food Fair is not your typical Polish food. Beets are typically Polish, scallops are not. All in all, though, the food is beautifully displayed. Thanks for sharing the photos and your experience!

    1. Funny thing is I’ve never been much of a soup person, but I did get a chance to sample a LOT of it during my time in Poland, so perhaps it’s time for me to rethink my stance. 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Jolanta — much appreciated.

  3. Yummie! I was brought up the same way as you: food is to feed you, not to be fancy! 🙂 But I started appreciating it more and more when I started living on my own. The pics in your article look lovely, I can only remember pierogi from my trip to Poland,:-) looks like I’ll have to come back to taste other delicacies!

  4. I believe I grew up like you- nothing fancy and quantity mattered. Perhas its the cold climate.
    I see all this fancy stuff and wonder where the dickens the food is. I remember my husband and I (who is also not fancy) went into this place and there were servings like that being served. My motto since then is if the meat serving is less than the size of your thumbnail and it looks like art its time to go.
    This stuff is art, not a meal 🙂

    1. LOL — I like your “tell-it-like-it-is” style Ellen! I can appreciate fine food art work like this too, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be downing a late-night burger later that evening. 🙂

  5. I’m not a foody that’s why I missed this post earlier. No way! You were in Poznan where I graduated! Great city! I’m glad that you have positive opinion. I’d like to revenge with photo reportage from Canada in the future 😉

    1. I loved my time in Poznan — just wish I had had more time there. And yes, you should definitely head to Canada — so many picturesque places just begging to be photographed! 🙂

  6. hi ,Im from Poland ,I know that Poznan had different cuisine than the rest of the Poland , but such treats I see the first time , bravo for cooks and for reporter.

  7. What a gorgeous blog! I’m a graphic/web designer and the deisgn of your blog blew me away. The attention to detail and design consistency is remarkable — from the colors to the fonts to the social networking graphics. Very well done.

    Beautiful dishes by the way. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for the great compliment!! Happy you like the design. I wish I could take credit for it, but I had an awesome designer. I just fed him the ideas, he did all the heavy lifting. 🙂

      And thanks for commenting!!

  8. Ok this food look verry amazing, but that is not traditional Polish cuisine. I was in Poland one times and I got there soup looks like wet clay with taste like blody grave…

  9. Awesome post, Raymond! I’m so hungry now…gonna dig into the fridge and make myself a cheese and ham sandwich!!!!! Thanks for sharing…you’ve gained me as your ‘foodie’ follower!!! Cheers and enjoy the rest of the week!!!!

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