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7/19/07

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POLAND’S GOT TALENT
Pascal Brodnicki
Chef You may have tuned into his TV program, which in 2005 was awarded the Culinary Oscar. Or come across his ingenious pocket-size cookbook, which has already sold over 100,000 copies – it fits easily into a lady’s handbag and can be fished out in a supermarket when a new idea for lunch or supper is wanting. Pascal Brodnicki, 30, the young celebrity chef, sometimes dubbed ‘the Polish Jamie Oliver’ has transformed the kitchens and eating habits of thousands of Polish TV viewers. With his unmistakable, adorable French accent and slightly broken Polish, a direct, laidback approach, an unbridled temperament, charisma and camerafriendly looks he is probably currently the most popular and recognisable cuisinier over the Vistula. He garnered his culinary education in France (his mother laughs when she remembers the state of their kitchen

Joyful Cooking
when he was learning to make puff pastry), and graduated from two gastronomy schools, one in France, the other in Basque Country. Over 16 years, he moved through various restaurants in his homeland (including Michelin 2 Star venues), moving on when he felt there was nothing more to learn from a place. In Poland, he rustled up dishes at the Bristol and Sheraton hotels, under Kurt Scheller, who subsequently invited him to run courses at his Culinary Academy. It was during one of them that a TV producer unexpectedly offered Pascal a culinary TV program. The offer struck home – the challenge of deposing the pork chop from the Sunday table in Polish homes and teaching families new recipes encouraged Pascal to reply, “We can give it a try.” In his program he doesn’t seek healthier foods; rather, he tries to convince people to change their menu daily and to propose a joyful diversion for the palate: “Strictly speaking, everything in the kitchen is a matter of the atmosphere,” and adds that, “Cooking is not merely a matter of stirring oil and chopping onions; it is real art.” Sometimes on the program, squeezed various sizes and sorts – the latter represented by one single piece left over from his last major collection entitled ‘Claustrophobia.’ In his most recent collection, Michalski is heading in exactly the opposite direction, which he considers a natural progression of his oeuvre, which also looks to address contradictions in both life and art. The new collection is titled ‘SMS’ which stands for Small Mobile Society, featuring curious figures of people in bronze or brass, perched atop rather long legs that are fixed onto a stone base fitted with a set of wheels. “It’s rather a figurative sort of mobility. The figures aren’t necessarily intended

TEXT BY MICHAŁ B. PARADOWSKI

“Cooking (...) is real art.”

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and concealed behind the pots, you will catch a glimpse of his shaggy friend – Klusek (‘le Clouseque’), a mutt with bat’s ears, a granddad’s beard, buttonlike eyes and a yellow streak, adopted from a shelter nine years ago. He looked long and thin at the time of his adoption, “like spaghetti,” Pascal explains, “but I would never call him that in English; I thought spaghetti is ‘kluska’ in Polish. No masculine form exists, so I whipped it up” – the chef thus reveals the onomastics of his fourlegged companion’s name (he has another, a spotted one named Pepe, whose spots mysteriously multiply between my visits). In Poland, he misses France’s warmth and sunlight, and the autumn and winter are definitely too long for him. This is why, when he gets the rare two weeks off with his girlfriend, they choose sunnier climates, such as Morocco, from where he invariably brings original spices. Occasionally, they travel together with Karol Okrasa— another young culinary star and chef at the Bristol hotel — and his wife. Pascal appreciates the fact that he had the opportunity to travel extensively and learn along the way – new things, new food… Despite this, he is partial to Polish holiday traditions, and although he spends Christmas with his grandparents in France enjoying venison, truffles and wine, he does so reminiscing about Poland. for movement, however they do symbolise the potential for mobility,” explains Michalski. According to Michalski, all of his works are the result of some anecdote told to him by his acquaintances, which flower in his mind and often translate into his next project. He uses timehonoured techniques to bring these ideas to life, at times incorporating a variety of materials along with antiques or found objects to create a composition reminiscent of folk art of extraordinary craftsmanship. There are, however, a number of such tales Michalski has yet to explore, such as the story of the octogenarian >> tightrope walker.

flat canvas. He does, however, continue to paint when the mood takes him, entirely at random, creating whimsical images set in tones of deep eggplant purple and rich variegated shades of brown, such as the portrait entitled, ‘I could have been a playboy but I’m just a regular donkey.’ Michalski also believes his titles are an integral part of his work – providing background and clues to the artist’s intention which, we all know too well, is not always so transparent. His subjects are mainly organic things: living things such as people and animals or the objects that are so much a part of everyday life, such as teapots, teacups, flowerpots, a miniature piano or doll-like figures framed in boxes of

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