THE STRØM’S GASTRONOMIC PHILOSOPHY
– Culinary and creative spaces, our Nord restaurants offer a Scandinavian-inspired cuisine that highlights our northern character by showcasing local artisans and products. Since Mother Nature does it so right, we wanted to create a menu of tasty and astonishing dishes that will make you discover the best that nature has to offer, one season at a time … A refined service and a gastronomic vision focused on mindfulness accompany the customer throughout their visit. Raphaël Podlasiewicz, executive chef of the Strøm restaurants, talks to us about his passion: creating a gastronomic experience in balance with nature.
WHERE IS YOUR PASSION FOR COOKING AND GASTRONOMY COMING FROM?
After I finished high school, I had no plan. I grew up in the kitchen with my mother and my grandmothers. I watched them cook, I tasted the happiness they were bringing to the table. I believe that unconsciously, these simple moments in my daily life inspired me to go into the field of cooking, evoking in me comfort, sharing and my most cherished memories. Also, the freedom we have in creating a new dish has inevitably inspired the artist in me.
WHAT IS YOUR CAREER PATH?
I graduated from CFP Jacques Rousseau in commercial cooking in 2005. Since graduation, I have had the chance to occupy every position in a kitchen and to work alongside chefs from whom I’ve learned a lot. It was through cleaning the floor, washing dishes, peeling vegetables and managing a brigade that I became aware of the vital importance of each position. From neighbourhood restaurants to hotels, not forgetting the private sector, consultation and catering, I have filled my backpack with experiences and tools that I put to good use at Strøm!
WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE DO YOU WANT TO CREATE FOR PEOPLE?
Above all, we want to introduce healthy food to our customers and assist them with mindful eating. Living gastronomy in this way consists of paying attention to the experience of eating and drinking, inside and outside the body, by observing the colours, the smells, the textures, the flavours and the temperature of the food. We pay attention to the experience of the body, the senses and the emotions that awaken. We relive memories by tastes, the smells, the place and the atmosphere. In short, we want to create a space where body, soul and mind are nourished.
WHAT ARE YOUR SOURCES OF INSPIRATION?
Nature remains the great muse of the nouvelle cuisine. It is about the simplistic use of local products, prepared in a thoughtful way. The nordicity and the art of maximizing seasonal products, as our ancestors did, is the source of our culinary creativity.
DO YOU HAVE A PHILOSOPHY THAT GUIDES YOUR CHOICES AND YOUR WORK?
Less is better!
In my work, I rely on quality, freshness and traceability of the ingredients. We try to highlight our food without denaturing it. The search for local artisans and exceptional products is a challenge! When we find inspiring products from our terroir (region), we make sure to respect the food and maximize its use by minimizing waste. It is a way to pay tribute to the artisan who devotes himself body and soul to deliver an exceptional product to his customers. Today we have access to a multitude of foods from mass producing companies. Overproduction and its harmful products have a negative impact not only on humans, but also on the environment. The essence of our mandate therefore lies in the importance of making a difference by becoming aware of the impact of the choices we make.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO SHOWCASE OUR LOCAL PRODUCTS AND OUR TERROIR?
Our terroir is rich in products that are currently unknown to many, but that deserve to be recognized. We are very familiar with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. But who knows the haskap berry (edible blue honeysuckle), the sea buckthorn berry, the elderberry, the sour cherry (Morello cherry), the Saskatoon berry, or the cloudberry? We are talking about berries that are a perfect match for a salty or sweet dish. Not to mention the balsam fir sprouts, Labrador tea, wintergreen and sweet clover; these are all typical flavours that awaken our memories by reminding us of the landscapes of our home! The possibilities of our terroir are endless; they are just waiting to be explored!