Commis Made 4th edition: The Urban Farm. Gdansk, Poland, July 2016

Maybe Poland isn’t seen as a prime destination of choice for a food lover, but you would do a great mistake by not keeping an eye on it because the new Polish food scene is evolving fast and passionately.

When a few months ago I received an invitation to Gdansk, I was very much looking forward to that trip. Partially because I would probably not travel there right now if I was not invited – and yet as I was never there before I was obviously curious about the Polish food scene. But most of all: I loved the concept of the event. Now, nearly two months after the trip to Gdansk, looking back at it, I can say Commis Made exceeded my expectations – it was a lovely event organized by wonderful highly enthusiastic people.

What was it all about?

The Commis Made team. Photo: Michael Anaya.
The Commis Made team – with Justyna (2nd from right), Matylda (3rd from right) and Adrian (4th from right) in the front line. Photo: Michael Anaya.

Matylda Grzelak, the young passionate manager of the Metamorfoza restaurant, chef of the same restaurant, Adrian Klonowski, and the restaurant owner Justyna Zdunek, are the brain, heart and soul behind Commis Made, the symposium which once a year unites ten young Polish head chefs for a challenge which is every year different. This year it was all about urban farming. The idea was born a year ago and in six months of hard work they transformed the legendary old shipyard in Gdansk into an urban farm. A big and challenging project for a small team without any previous experience with farming who encountered many obstacles on the way – from bureaucratic to practical!

The entrance into the shipyard
The entrance into the shipyard

Their passion and enthusiasm brought them in touch with farmers, food producers, biologists and other people who shared their knowledge and so the urban farm started to bear fruits.

In July everything was ready – ten Polish chefs and a group of other food related professionals from Poland and some other European countries came to Gdansk for three days of talks, workshops and dinners.

The farm itself was not only a farm but also a research laboratory
The farm itself was not only a farm but also a research laboratory

The symposium involved a wide range of professionals: architects, farmers, chefs, botanists, beekeepers, brewers, urbanists, ecologists, etc. – not only from Poland but also from other countries and ended with a final street food dinner party open to a wider public. The guest chefs have cooked only with the produce they obtained from the urban farm. 

Chefs preparing their dishes for the final dinner in the premises of the old shipyard
Team work – chefs preparing their dishes for the final dinner in the premises of the old shipyard

Some really lovely dishes were created that evening, between them were my personal favourites:

Zucchini leaves and flowers stuffed with urban farm beans and Ermlander cheese – Polish artisanal cheese from Mazury area, with wild herbs from the shipyard – a dish created by Tobyn Excell and Semi Hakim:

Dish by Semi Hakim & Tobyn Excell
Dish by Semi Hakim & Tobyn Excell

and kohlrabi marinated in beer vinegar, sturgeon from Górki Zachodnie, smoked in the shipyard, parsley, greens and dill emulsion, broccoli sprouts, sunflower seeds and wild foraged rocket by Paweł Dołżonek & Witek Iwański:

The dish by Paweł Dołżonek & Witek Iwański

It was a lovely programme full of interesting contents and ideas, but most of all great people. Matylda is still so young and yet, she is not afraid even of the greatest challenges. She has encountered many obstacles and yet never gave up. Her passion and drive are contagious and I am sure she will have a very big influence on the Polish cuisine – she only just started, so keep an eye on her. Adrian, the young passionate chef of the Metamorfoza restaurant is one of those guys who everybody wants in his team – a great team worker and motivator with a huge passion for his work who does every extra mile to learn and create the best he can. He is very strongly inspired by the Nordic food movement (look at his dishes here), still working on his own personal language – but I am sure he will find it soon and enchant with it also the international food scene. And then there is Justyna, who is like a mother figure in this team – restaurant owner with heart and passion (I know all chefs would want owners like her) who is investing her time and money into a project which brings no financial benefit – she does it out of her love and passion for food with a desire to support young talents and to give them a voice. A fabulous team!

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With people like this, Polish food scene could start blooming also internationally and become interesting also for the international guests. Will it? It depends if the city, the local economy and the country will become aware of that soon enough and support the efforts of this team and other teams who are trying to create a change. Right now they can rely only on their own enthusiasm and very limited finances. It also depends on the willingness of the Polish chefs to collaborate and support each other instead of thinking only of their own situation. A real growth and breakthrough can happen only through mutual learning and support. No chef is an island … they can win only together.

I’m really happy to have met Matylda, Justyna and Adrian – I am sure they are working on something great again!

P.S.: Sadly Metamorfoza restaurant, even if they tried, was not allowed to keep the urban farm – a few days ago they had the last harvest and left the shipyard. I was hoping till the last moment that this wouldn’t happen.

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Get a glimpse of the Commis Made as presented by Matylda:

and some more photos:

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The roof was the real vegetable garden
The roof was the real vegetable garden…
... with a view
… with a view
A real garden ...
A real garden …
The roof garden. Photo: Michael Anaya.
The roof garden. Photo: Michael Anaya.

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Back to basement
Back to basement

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The street food party. Photo: Michael Anaya.
The street food party. Photo: Michael Anaya.

Polish chefs who took part of the symposium are: Marta Edmunds — Lokal (Łódź), Dariusz Barański—Concept 13 (Warszawa), Marek Flisiński— Water&Wine (Nałęczów), Adrian Klonowski—Metamorfoza (Gdańsk), Krzysztof Rabek—Odette (Warszawa), Marcin Szwak—Chapeau Bas Restaurant in Grand Lubicz (Ustka), Maciej Nowicki—Villa Intrata Pałac w Wilanowie (Warszawa) , Paweł Dołżonek—1906 Pałac Ciekocinko (Choczewo), Witek Iwański—Aruana Hotel Narvil (Serock) oraz Dominik Narloch-Verbena(Chomiąża Szlachecka,Herbarium Hotel) and chefs from abroad: Tobyn Excell (UK) and Semi Hakim (Istanbul, Tyrkey), from abroad came also speakers Janne Länsipuro (Helsinki, Finland) and Janina Kayhkö (Helsinki/EFC Farmsystems Berlin). Polish speakers were: Ewelina Żygadło (Milejowe Pole, Food Think Tank, Wrocław), Filip Gołębiewski (architect, Farma Klangor), Krzysztof Zdebik (Pszczelarium, Gdańsk), Oliwia Mielewczyk (LedFarmer, Reda), Zofia Zienkiewicz (Lawenda, Gdańsk), Dr Ing. Krzysztof Herman (Green Cross/SGGW, Warsaw). Guests of the event were also Polish and foreign journalists.

Andreja Lajh

More: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Urban-Farm-Stocznia-Gdańska/

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