The main reason I wanted to become a chef was a love for food and eating and I have been experimenting in the kitchen since a young age. I was always trying to do something more exciting than my mum’s cooking. Once I had experienced the buzz and the adrenaline of the kitchen, service and being part of the team, I knew it was a career I wanted.
After completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Management in 2004 back home in Poland, I decided to follow my dream of being a chef. In Poland being a chef wasn't really regarded as a career and there weren’t any decent facilities in which to train, so I decided to head to the UK.
In September 2004, I started a three-year NVQ course at Thanet College in Broadstairs, now East Kent College. During this time, I did stints at Buckingham Palace, The British Embassy in Paris, Rhodes 24 and Le Gavroche. After completing my NVQ level 3 Kitchen and Pastry qualification I applied for a job at Raymond Blanc's Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons. After a successful interview, I started as a commis chef in September 2007. I worked there under the guidance of Gary Jones until January 2010. The Feathered Nest in the Cotswolds was my next workplace where I started as sous chef and was promoted to head chef, a role I’ve loved doing ever since.
I am inspired by many people I have met along the way. Obviously various top chefs, their books and TV shows offer inspiration, but for me the main thing is the nature and seasons. Living and cooking in the countryside of the Cotswolds it would be a sin not to. I work closely with a few farmers, gamekeepers and foragers and it is almost like they 'dictate' what I cook.
The main reason to enter The National Chef of the Year was to meet people from the industry, to build some contacts and to network. I felt like I need to put myself up there to be seen, to show people that I exist. Another thing was the urge I had to push myself and compete with other chefs, to see how my skills compare.
5 facts you may not know about Kuba Winkowski...
- I am big cycling fan, which I do a lot with my wife and son on my days off. Forest of Dean is our favourite spot. I am always sleep deprived. Every July and August I enjoy watching Tour de France and Veulta Espana after each service, late at night.
- I am crazy about cured meats and salamis. Always used to love to eat them and now I am making them myself.
- I love Italy, Italian food (cured meats of course), culture, sights and Pizza!
- In one stage of life I thought I would like to be a doctor, but I quickly realised that I love food, eating and cooking more than anything.
- I really enjoy the theatre, I go to the West End shows as often as I can, sadly not often enough.