Warsaw in the days of Camastra

There’s ferment in the Polish capital. The Apulian chef at Senses, one of the country’s two Michelin stars, is one of the most praised ones

24-01-2018

Chef Andrea Camastra, born in 1980 in Monopoli, Apulia, one Michelin star at restaurant Senses in Warsaw

Sometimes considered too rustic and heavy, Polish gastronomy has emerged like a phoenix out of its ashes. After the dark Communist years and the euphoria of the free market, which gave a prominent role to foreign cuisines, the time has finally come to give new value to our roots, our authentic flavours, some of which had long been forgotten or lost.

In recent years the restaurant scene has changed dramatically. Many Polish chefs have returned home after years of experience abroad, where they learnt new techniques and culinary trends. They now want to present a new version of our cuisine, but respectful of local heritage and products.

For sure, the greatest representative of this new era in Polish gastronomy is chef Wojciech Modest Amaro who, with his restaurant Atelier Amaro, has found a place for Poland in the international culinary map, by conquering the first historic Michelin star for a Polish restaurant in 2013. After working with great masters like Ferran AdriáRené Redzepi and Yannick Alléno, he returned to Poland to open his restaurant, a place "where nature meets science".

Wojciech Modest Amaro chef at Atelier Amaro, another Michelin star

Wojciech Modest Amaro chef at Atelier Amaro, another Michelin star

Hackberry granita with green strawberries at Atelier Amaro (photo credits Loroch)

Hackberry granita with green strawberries at Atelier Amaro (photo credits Loroch)

Amaro researched local ingredients at length, creating a menu based on nature’s calendar, following seasonality. It is not divided into the traditional four seasons, but into 52 weeks. This precise calendar allows to use products in the best possible way. The chef presents an open tasting menu, with 6 (290 zloty) or 8 (380 zloty) "moments". Each is described minimally, with the three main ingredients: Goat cheese – buffalo grass – walnut; Leek – duck – mustard seeds...

The second starred restaurant in Poland is Senses: young and ambitious Italian Andrea Camastra runs the kitchen. After working in the best European restaurants, including Amaro, this guy, in love with Poland and its flavours, found the perfect conditions in Warsaw so that he could create his culinary style. Camastra is an ambassador of post-molecular cuisine, that is to say note by note, a concept defined by French scientist Hervé This which is based on the use of pure compounds extracted from natural ingredients, molecules of flavour, which Andrea uses in creating his dishes.

Pierogi ruskie, truffle and pork, a recipe by Camastra, in the menu at Senses 

Pierogi ruskie, truffle and pork, a recipe by Camastra, in the menu at Senses 

In this case too, menus are designed with strict attention to product seasonality. The small menu (290 zloty), medium (410 zloty) and large menu (550 zloty) have some emblematic traditional Polish dishes, which Andrea has completely reinvented.

One of the pioneers and promoters of Polish cuisine is Robert Sowa, who worked in various restaurants in Poland, singling typical Polish recipes and presenting them in a modern restaurant context, with a lighter, fresher approach, but always respectful of tradition and keeping a strong compromise with local products: game, mushrooms, duck. His restaurant N°31 was chosen as the best restaurant in Poland in 2017 by the Polish Best 100 Restaurants guide. The chef presents a tasting menu for 215 zloty and an à la carte one with starters for 48 zloty, main courses for 100 zloty, desserts for 29 zloty.

Lamb leg with a variation of peas by Robert Sowa at restaurant N31 

Lamb leg with a variation of peas by Robert Sowa at restaurant N31 

There’s now doubt Polish cuisine is growing. It’s a culinary destination per excellence, with a large range of typical products, many restaurants worth mentioning, like Platter, with chef Karol Okrasa, or Tamka 43, with Piotr Pielachowski; with many young, ambitious chefs who are hungry for success. A success that will surely translate into more Michelin stars in Poland in the future.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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