Meet NCOTY finalist Marcin Pomierny, head chef at The Maids Head Hotel Limited, Norwich
In 2005, Marcin finished Technical Gastronomic School in Poland and came to England to work and get experience. At the time, he did not speak English and his first job was in a posh restaurant as a kitchen porter. There he saw first-hand how hard chefs work and the food was absolutely amazing. He knew from that point on he wanted to cook like that. It was a big inspiration and motivated Marcin to be on that level of cooking. After a few months, he found a new job in a vegetarian restaurant. For the next two to three years, he worked 60 to 75 hours a week, not because he wanted money, but because he was hungry to learn.
In his career he has worked in a variety of restaurants including vegetarian, steak houses, fine dining and pubs. All these jobs have made him a stronger and more confident chef. At the moment, he is the head chef at The Maids Head Hotel in Norwich. It is the oldest hotel in the UK and he has worked there for seven years, with a great team and owners.
Before he started working in kitchens, he worked in a factory and didn’t enjoy it at all. However, he loves kitchen life describing it as “absolutely amazing” because in the kitchen he can feel free and chefs are like one big family. In his workplace, there is always a positive atmosphere and growing and looking after his team is important to him. He feels that “happy chefs mean happy food”.
Marcin had wanted to be a chef as a child. Even as young as three or four he played with flour, eggs and water on a brand-new carpet at home. His mum often reminds him of this story and how he always had a real interest in food.
All the head chefs which Marcin has worked with have inspired him. One chef which sticks in his mind is Joe Dean, head chef at Up restaurant in Norwich. Marcin worked with him as a sous chef for over two years and he opened his mind on how to put creative flavours together. That was an important step in his career. He has also done stages at Petrus, The Hand & Flowers with Tom Kerridge and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay on Royal Hospitality Road. All these opportunities inspired him to think differently as a chef.
The most memorable part of his career was in 2016 when he achieved the 2 AA Rosettes and after a few months he won Norfolk Chef of the Year. However, being part of the National Chef of the Year final is now an important part of his career and something he will never forget. This is his third time in the top 40 and he wasn’t going to give up fighting until he reached the final. He knows how hard it is to win but this is his goal. He’d actually got his entry ready and submitted before lockdown, so he didn’t have to overcome challenges with ingredients or equipment.
During lockdown he has had an amazing time with his family. He has two sons, so they spent time home-schooling, creating crafts, going to the forest, looking for nature and cooking together. His wife was very happy because he was cooking all the time. The pandemic gave him time for reading cookbooks, working on new ideas for dishes and he also started learning how to make cheese. He’s already learnt how to make soft white cheese with cow’s milk and Gouda style cheese. Next on the agenda is making parmesan. He has also spent a lot of time of experimenting with different breads.
When he was a child, Marcin and his family would go to help his grandfather on the farm every summer. He remembers the beautiful flavours of tomato, homemade soft white cheese and sourdough bread. All these ingredients were grown and made by his grandmother. So, the name of his second stage dish was “My summer on sourdough crisp”. The sourdough crisp he rolled like pasta and between the sheets he put herbs and flowers then baked it. On the bottom of the crisp he made elderflower and avocado tartare and on top he used Norfolk tomato with his home-made soft cheese in the middle. It was all dusted with smoked onion powder and served on barley.
To succeed as a chef, Marcin believes you need to put in hard work and have passion, a little bit of luck and humility. The words he chose to describe his style of cooking are freshly squeezed and magical.