As my amazing friend Georgi recently said ‘somehow life is throwing you into world of cooking, despite everything. Finally, looks like you found something you truly love’. When I heard him saying that, it hit me- he’s so damn right! Let me tell you my story and, promise, it won’t be too long or too corny. From very early years I’ve always been gravitating towards kitchen and food preparation. I loved helping my mum or grandma with preparing meals, baking cakes or making preserves during a summer season. Preparing and making food has always been an essential part of my life. So many wonderful memories were created in my childhood home kitchen. Preparing food from scratch, how it should be, it’s rooted deep in Polish culture. Meal preparation is more like a social event than a chore.
Let’s get back to 2010- young 20-year-old me, 2 years after passing my A Levels in Poland, quite lost and not having idea on what I want from life. Studying in Poland wasn’t appealing to me at all. One day I saw an ad in the newspaper about University in the UK…I thought ‘I do like British weather and I do like Harry Potter a lot... Let’s give it a go…’ Quick google search typing in ‘Aberystwyth Uni’… and few months after here I was packed and ready to go. I decided to come to UK few months earlier and earn some cash… I started with Cornwall. I meant to be a waitress- that’s what I applied for- ended up in the kitchen….It was hard, it was busy, it was exiting and fun! I loved it. After 10 months in Cornwall I moved to Wales.
I spent 6 beautiful years on the Welsh coast studying Criminology, German and Spanish. While studying, I was still working full time as a chef in a hotel restaurant. If not at Uni, I was in the kitchen. From chef de partie I quickly move up and become a Sous Chef. As time went by, my passion for food and cooking was only getting stronger. To the point I was considering dropping out off Uni, but luckily I haven’t done that.
As part of my degree, I had to spend some time in Austria and Spain, but being so used to very busy schedule I felt out of place not working and within few weeks I found a kitchen work. In both countries, I was put on a pastry section. Working in kitchens in Spain and Austria allowed me to see how things look like in different countries- allowed me to taste some of the most delicious foods from the regions and thought me that everything is possible if you try hard enough. After a year abroad, I came back to UK to start my final year at Uni- task number 1- find a job…I got a position of a Sous Chef at Caribbean Restaurant where I had complete freedom of developing the menu and most important- pastry section. Together with Head Chef we spent 2 months trying out traditional Caribbean recipes and transforming them into something that will now be called ‘fine dining experience’- something I loved- using traditional flavours and techniques, combining them with something complete unexpected. That period of time definitely helped to awaken my senses and curiosity to experiment with flavour.
In between writing my dissertation, I wrote Personal Statements and CV to the best restaurants in the country. I didn’t have to look far. Restaurant just outside Aberystwyth- Ynyshir Hall gave me the biggest opportunity and offered me a job. Don’t get me wrong, I did stalk the guy for weeks, asking to have a work experience and trail shifts. Working 13 to 14 hours a day for nearly two years took its tool on my private life. I decided I needed a change so I moved to Bath, where yet again I got myself a sous chef position in another Michelin Star Restaurant. Unfortunately, not much changed. I felt drained, unhappy and with very little of that curiosity and desire to experiment. During that tough time I met the most amazing person, who is now my husband to be. I really don’t think I would be, where I am right now, if not for him. His encouragement, kind words, constant support and smile on his face. At that time I was convinced I am done with professional kitchens, and what’s worst- I had no Plan B. I was physically and mentally exhausted… Finally I decided to get a job in education- I was working as a Teaching Assistant to children with Special Educational Needs… It felt so natural to be at school with the kids and actually making a difference…After a very short period of time I pushed myself and applied to do my Teaching Training, to teach languages in secondary schools.
Wait for that…throughout my entire training I was still working part time in the kitchen- for money, and partially to silence my guilt of ‘betraying my profession’. As I graduated with flying colours, I got myself a job in an independent school and for a while I loved my life. As I transitioned from independent, private school to a state school, I started to doubt whether teaching is for me… Meanwhile I was keep cooking and baking at home, then few friends asked whether I can bake their birthday cake. Birthday cake lead to a wedding cake and it snowballed without me noticing what’s happening…
That brings me here… I opened The Orchid Kitchen in January 2020 while working full time at school. While planning, marking, attending parents evenings and all that. In 2021 I decided to quit my full time post and invest more time in the business, that had became my passion- my baby. Please don’t think it was that easy… I had nowhere near bookings and customers to support myself so I made a bold move and decided to work as a supply teacher, which meant to bring me some stable income, and all free time will be invested in my business. That’s exactly were I am now. Gradually building up the momentum and collecting all the wonderful clients that were kind enough to trust and believe in me!
I wasn’t an easy journey, and the path ahead is still long and windy, however it finally feels like I’m in peace with myself. I follow my dream and passion. I found the perfect balance of being happy as a chef, using my creativity and artistic side and helping people and making them happy with my cakes. I so grateful for all the opportunities and experiences I had a chance to live through. I’m certain I wouldn’t be the same person without it all and as Erol Oran said ‘Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost’.

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