From Poland to Samoa: New era of fine dining

By Vatapuia Maiava ,

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FROM POLAND TO SAMOA: Executive Chef Pawel Klodowski (right) and his Sous Chef Sandra Kotowicz.

FROM POLAND TO SAMOA: Executive Chef Pawel Klodowski (right) and his Sous Chef Sandra Kotowicz.

With a well experienced and well adjusted leadership team; it is safe to say that Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Food and Beverages is in good hands.

Led by 33-year-old Executive Chef, Pawel Klodowski and his 24-year-old Sous Chef, Sandra Kotowicz, of Poland, the duo has an excessive build-up of experience from years of being in the kitchen to share with Samoa.

THE ART OF COOKING: Kitchen skills and techniques on a plate

THE ART OF COOKING: Kitchen skills and techniques on a plate

The two aim to share their modern skills to their local staff all while introducing new cuisine concepts and ideas to the Samoan community.

“This is the first hotel in Samoa at this level so we just wanted to introduce new things and new trends in terms of food,” said Mr. Klodowski.

“We bring some new restaurant concepts to Samoa; we have certain theme nights where we introduce flavors of the world starting from Monday right through to Sunday.

“Our signature restaurant is Aggie Grey’s by Peter Kuruvita where we go into fine dining cuisine where we want to combine different flavors to give the best possible experience in every bite.

“After two weeks of opening we have had some great feedback and we are starting to get really busy and we look forward to what the future will bring.” Ms. Kotowicz shares the exact same vision.

“We are chefs with big experience where we worked in different kitchens around the world,” she said. “So our main aim is to bring that experience here to show how it looks outside and we try to keep everything at a really high level.

“We aim to show our open minds in regards to the dishes we offer our guests while still using local ingredients along with modern techniques to show Samoa something new.”

Although the pair are from Poland their skills and techniques are not limited to just Polish Cuisine; the pair have done a fair bit of traveling where they pick up new skills and ideas.

According to Mr. Klodowski they recognize their strength in European dishes.

But what is the differences and similarities between a European and Samoan five star kitchen?

“The basic differences between Samoan and European dishes is the ingredients,” Mr. Klodowski said.

“In Europe we have a lot of forests where we can find different berries; over there we have a lot of seasonal fruits.

“Over here it’s very different with so many tropical fruits available.

“Similarities are also pretty simple… both nations love to eat; we both like to eat meat; Just like Samoa a lot of people in Poland love to eat meat such as beef venison and so on.”

The pair has been residing in Samoa for the last four months and they have been every minute of their stay… even though a chef’s life is an extremely busy one. 

“We have been here for the last four months now,” Mr. Klodowski said.

“It has been really good, this is a beautiful country; the climate is a bit different from the places we’ve worked before but it’s easy to get used to.

THE ART OF COOKING: Kitchen skills and techniques on a plate
THE ART OF COOKING: Kitchen skills and techniques on a plate

“We work hard and we spend most of our time in the kitchen so we haven’t had enough time to explore the country yet but we look forward to that.

“In terms of my profession it has been very challenging; but it’s great that our local kitchen hands want are eager to learn and that’s why we aim to bring new ideas to teach them.

“Attitude is the goal and everyone who comes here with a good attitude has the biggest chance to learn.” But for Ms. Kotowicz this has been a journey of patience.

“I think the most important thing for us is patience,” she said. “This is because for us it’s difficult to work with majority of our team lacking experience; but we are very open to everyone.

“There is always a place in our kitchen for those who want to learn with an open mind and hard working.

“This place acts as a hub for people to grow where we help them build their career as chefs; they can also learn so much at a starwood level; it’s a very good opportunity for them.”

Although he’s far away from home, Mr. Klodowski is no stranger to the Pacific admitting that he was well prepared for the challenges Samoa has to offer.

“I get a lot of my inspiration from Peter Kuruvita,” he said.

“I was working in Fiji with Mr. Kuruvita and Aggie Greys is his first restaurant in Samoa; we work closely together to bring the menus.

“So I came to Fiji from Denmark and it was a very different experience but I learnt a lot of patience there and approached a lot of new products using local ingredients.

“I would say that my experience in Fiji prepared me well for Samoa and nothing here will surprise me.

“It’s funny because when I was in Fiji they called me and asked for me to open the restaurant here in Samoa; I already knew Sandra at the time so I just messaged her if she wanted to be my Sous Chef and she said sure… just buy me a ticket.”

But for Ms. Kotowicz it’s a totally different story.

“I was not prepared,” she admitted.

“For me it was one big surprise and a major culture shock but it’s good to have some Polish friends here; for me as a chef this is something really new.

“In Europe when you need something you just go straight to a shop and buy it but over here it’s a little bit different; you are limited to what you have so you have to have a really good imagination with what you cook.

“It’s a lot of fun actually because I see it as an adventure.”

But all in all, the pair is happy with their positions here in Samoa and look forward to serving anyone who comes by.

“We are very happy to be here,” Mr. Klodowski said. “We are learning a lot from this place and we are very happy to be able to teach our employees and chefs to be and hopefully they will take what they learn and use it as a stepping stone in their career.” And the exact same can be said for the young Ms. Kotowicz.

“For me it’s the same,” she said.

“This is completely new in my life; I am happy to be able to live in a place that is so beautiful with such an amazing culture.

“We are glad that we can learn with people with a great attitude; Samoan people are very hard working.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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