Child cook to award-winning chef

The restaurant's summer berries mille feuille

The restaurant's summer berries mille feuille - Credit: sub

Wojciech Nawalkas’ passion for cooking began at just 12 years old, experimenting at home in the kitchen.

Wojciech Nawalkas

Wojciech Nawalkas - Credit: sub

Now an award-winning Bath chef, he shares some of his food secrets with Somerset Life.

Wojciech completed Chefs College in Poland with an NVQ Level 3 before heading over to the UK. The talented chef won the ChefVChef competition at Bath College in 2008, also coming second in 2008 and 2012!

Heading up the team at Homewood Parks’ Tides Restaurant in Bath is his first head chef role in England and he is keen to showcase his love for fresh and local produce, believing ‘fresh is best’ for stunning seasonal dishes.

How would you describe your food style? Traditional modern cusine.

Who has been your greatest food influence? My grandmother as she is an amazing chef!

How important is seasonality in your menu? Seasonality is incredibly important to me when I write my menu because I always focus on getting the freshest local produce available to use in my dishes.

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What is your favourite flavour of Somerset? It has to be cider and cheese – we are spoilt with the varieties locally produced in the county.

What ingredient couldn’t you do without? At Tides Restaurant in Homewood Park, we are lucky enough to have a kitchen garden, which supplies the team with many varieties of fresh herbs, which we use on a daily basis.

What was your most memorable meal?

My grandmother used to cook a pork chop dish with dill new potatoes and braised white cabbage accompanied by caraway seeds and pancetta.

Why did you become a chef?

From a young age I always knew that I wanted to be a chef because I loved learning about food and spending time in the kitchen. My grandmother was an inspiration to me and encouraged me in my chosen career path.

What is your food heaven?

My idea of food heaven is scallops served with confit pancetta and salsa verde.

What is your idea of food hell?

I have to be honest and say I don’t like spicy food when it overpowers the main flavours of the dish.

What’s big in 2013? I think perhaps beef onglet may rise in popularity this year. This dish is as good as a beef fillet I feel, if it is cooked properly.

For this reason, I actually have it running on our à la carte menu at the moment. I serve it with a blade wonton, chantaney carrots, broad beans and toast brioche. Delicious!

See October’s Somerset Life to try one of Wojciech’s recipes for yourself.