Basia Starecka says that his Bez Gwiazdek is currently the best restaurant in Warsaw. And Warsaw Insider has granted him a title of the Best Chef of the Year. Intriguing, isn’t it? The restaurant in Powiśle has been running for over a year now under a very minimalistic B* sign and it operates five days a week. Actually, evenings because it serves only suppers.
Robert Trzópek has been cooking professionally for over 20 years now. He worked at Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxford, Copenhagen Noma, and Spanish El Bulli. Now he cooks at the top level at Bez Gwiazdek.
You change the menu every month during which you take your clients to different parts of Poland. Which region do you offer this month?
– Świętokrzyskie. This is the last sixteenth voivodship. Warsaw was the first with blood soup, mushrooms, burbot, ham in bread. Speed is fast, high pressure. However, thanks to this you have a pretext to come back.
So what do you offer in April?
– Probably we will start all over again because our guests really liked this idea. Besides, we are not bored with it and we have learnt a lot along the way. We have rummaged through the old recipes and interpreted them. Maybe in April, we will do “the best of”, all Poland in one? We would like to stick to the local ingredients. One hundred percent of the products in our offer is of Polish origin.
Do you travel across Poland?
– I would like to do it more often but I simply lack time. Most of the products we can buy in Warsaw. We get vegetables from Pan Ziółko, meat from Mrs. Ania at Hala Mirowska, fish are delivered by Pan Bernard from Pomerania.
Your menu is very minimalistic.
– To drink we only serve water, wine, coffee, and tea. We don’t have strong alcohols, we don’t even serve lemon to our clients because it strongly affects our taste buds and the food we offer is very delicate. Some people get angry and leave when they hear they can’t order coca-cola or whiskey. Too bad. It is important to find a target group and be consequent.
How did you achieve all this? Has cooking always been present in your life?
– It has always been natural. My grandmother lived with us, and family life was in a kitchen. I wasn’t good at school so I went to the technical school of gastronomy.
My family never had great means. You had to think also about the possibilities of finding a job. I have 2 siblings: one is a pastry chef, second a baker. My mother’s sister is an excellent cook, two cousins, too.
Now I understand.
– I worked in some restaurants in my home Tricity and went abroad. In a two-star restaurant in Oxford, I’ve learnt a lot: basics of French cuisine, the best products. When I started my work at Noma it already had two stars. I spent there two years. During that time they moved from the seventeenth to the third place in the ranking of the best restaurants. I joined El Bulli because I wanted something completely different.
I experienced a great variety in my life: traditional, Scandinavian minimalism, and at the end something cosmic. At this point in my life, I am more close to the Scandinavian philosophy of Noma.
It would be funny if you got a star. Would you change a name?
– Definitely not. This name stands for a nonpretentious character of this place. Without table sheets, without all the fuss and inflated prices.
interview: Agnieszka Kowalska
photo: Aga Bilska i materiały Bez Gwiazdek