Kulinarny Puchar Polski, POLAGRA GASTRO, Poznan, Poland
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.
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.)
It was every man (and my poor dear Ma) for themselves.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And even a gruel-grabbing, cutlery-clinking Neanderthal like me can appreciate that.
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.
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.