The apprentice of Gordon Ramsay's craftsmanship cooks at Qubus Hotel. Interview with Mr Robert Kasiński, the Chef at Qubus Hotel Bielsko-Biała.
Karolina Celińska: How did your cooking adventure start?
Robert Kasiński: After graduating from my secondary school I started to work in gastronomic venues located in Bielsko-Biała and its surroundings. After 3 years cooking became my true passion and I decided to go to London to develop my skills and learn from the best. I started my work as a junior cook and gradually moved up the career ladder, as I got more experience and learned the language. At the moment I am the Chef at the prestigious "4Elements" restaurant located at Qubus Hotel Bielsko-Biała.
KC: You mention that in London you could take the opportunity of learning from the best. In which restaurants did you work and what did you learn?
RK: I worked in London "Petrus" restaurant, awarded with the Michelin star and owned by Gordon Ramsay. I was the cook responsible for the "chef de partie" section. The person holding this position manages a small kitchen team responsible for serving dishes on time and keeping its working place in the kitchen tidy. Later on I also worked as the Assistant Chef at "Les Trois Garcons". It is the restaurant that was awarded by the Michelin Guide. Working for those restaurants gave me a lot of satisfaction. I had the opportunity to admire the craftsmanship of the best cooks and learn from them, including Gordon Ramsay, who visited our restaurant as a Guest. He is also my personal guru in terms of cooking. He is a great cook and a businessman, and the chefs trained by him are real masters. They showed me ingredients which were brought from all around the world and used in a truly genuine way in the most extraordinary dishes. Apart from learning about those unusual ingredients I learned how to prepare and properly boil and grill various types of meat and fish. For example, I can prepare the king crab which can reach up to 1.5 meter in length etc.
KC: What other ingredients surprised you during your education?
RK: The beef from a Scottish farm where the best breeds are raised especially for particular restaurants. The cattle are fed with specially selected feed which influences the final taste of their meat. The beef itself must mature in special conditions for 26 to 34 days to reach the required tenderness and taste. I got to know the taste of saffron imported from Spain and white truffles imported from the southern Italy. The price of 1 kilo of this 'delicacy' was reaching up to 15 thousand złoty... The really amazing fact was that all the seafood such as lobsters, scallops, crabs or octopuses were delivered alive every morning, and the fish we got were swimming in the sea just a few hours before. Their proper preparation was a great challenge to every cook. Availability of all those top quality ingredients and spices gave me the opportunity to create real culinary wonders such as caviar served on orange, disappearing transparent raviolis, vanilla cream with coffee bubbles etc. But the most unusual dish I composed by myself was ravioli stuffed with mousse made of pigs' trotters and snails and served with sweet and spicy sauce.
KC: Could you tell us briefly about your working day at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant?
RK: Our shift used to start at 7:00 a.m. - cooks had a few hours to prepare everything the same way every day. The highest quality was a priority and it was verified by the secret client, the so-called Michelin inspector. Before 12:00 p.m. all the cooks had a short coffee break and the phase of serving started. Lunch and dinner were attended by about 160 persons altogether. Preparation of the dishes was very stressful as the cooks had to show their ultimate commitment to serve all the dishes in accordance with the standards. Every single ingredient was handled by the Chef and his Assistant to be "put together into a complete picture". Our working day finished after midnight after a thorough cleaning.
KC: Now, as you work in the exceptional "4Elements" restaurant at Qubus Hotel Bielsko-Biała, can you see any similarities between the London restaurants and "4Elements"?
RK: Yes. After coming back to Poland I applied for the position of the Chef at Qubus Hotel Bielsko-Biała and I got the job. I liked the fact that the menu combines Polish and European cuisines as well as the opportunity of working in the venue which meets high cooking standards and cares for its Guests. It is the high quality of the dishes and regular audits that make "4Elements" very much like London restaurants. At Qubus Hotel we pay special attention to meeting ISO and HACCP standards. Just like in "Petrus", we also serve large banquets attended by 100 and more persons. These are both, wedding receptions and business meetings. During every such event we care for the highest quality of our dishes. We also make sure that they surprise our Guests with their attractive appearance and taste.
KC: What do you value in your work for Qubus Hotel?
RK: I think it's the cooking itself and the possibility of experimenting with tastes. I also get a lot of gratification from satisfaction expressed by our Guests. We always take their opinions into account while composing our menu. Currently, we are working on new dishes to enrich our culinary offer. Soon at Qubus Hotel Bielsko-Biała, just like in our Kraków hotel, we will be able to offer refined versions of regional dishes. Bielsko-Biała and the entire Podbeskidzie region are the place where different cultures and influences blended together. This phenomenon was also reflected in meals. On the one hand we have highland meals such as mountain trout, sour cabbage soup, various types of blood sausage, regional cheeses with ewe's milk cheese (smoked and raw) as the most popular ones. On the other hand we have typically Silesian tastes such as beef rolls with red cabbage and Silesian potato dumplings. This is how we want to encourage our Guests to try our local delicacies. At Qubus Hotel we truly believe in the slow food idea which makes healthy food our priority.
KC: What do you recommend to your Guests in Qubus Hotel chain menu?
RK: I think we have a very interesting menu which combines various culinary traditions. Polish and European cuisine dishes are served in a modern fashion. This is our distinctive feature in the local market. "4Elements" restaurant and Torino Paninoteka&Bar attract more and more satisfied Guests. Lovers of good cuisine value genuine proposals and unusual tastes that can be found for instance in the Italian menu offered at Torino. The menu includes home-made focaccia and panini. I also recommend the exceptional taste of dishes based on meat and fish. We offer such dishes as the lemon salmon, a trout roasted with fennel or tender grilled lamb with Feta cheese.
KC: What are the latest trends in gastronomy?
RK: Seasonal and regional menus are definitely on top. While composing our menu we pay special attention to the best seasonal products that are truly fresh and tasty in a particular season. Our dishes always offer products of the highest quality. It is a popular fact that Polish cuisine means also exceptional regional products that are always attractive for those Guests who come from other regions of Poland as well as from abroad. Our local dishes are healthy and genuine. Molecular gastronomy is also trendy these days. At Qubus Hotel we often use the "sous vide" cooking technique, which is an element of this broad stream, for example our chicken entrecôte is vacuum-packed with fresh rosemary, lemon and spices, and then cooked in low temperature. Thanks to this cooking method the meat is juicy, has more distinctive aroma and is healthier, as we use very little fat. I encourage everyone to visit our restaurants and taste those exceptional dishes.