Flavour Profile Q&A: Tomasz Podwika, head chef of Soul Food Kitchen, Glasgow

Tomasz Podwika tells us about his favourite vegan and Polish foods

Published 29th Jun 2021
Updated 18 th Sep 2023

What’s your favourite ingredient?

I have two and they work so well as standalone ingredients as well as together, and that’s onion and garlic – both so versatile and with impactful flavours.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?

I love cold pressed juices and I always start my day at Soul Food Kitchen with a juice that I’ve made with grapefruit, kale, ginger, cucumber, broccoli, spinach and green chillies for the heat. I don’t know anyone who can stomach this mixture apart from me, I must be mad!

Tell us about your first food memory?

When I was wee, I remember my granny would make us semolina that was topped with raspberry syrup. It’s a very Polish thing and people eat it for breakfast, like a kind of porridge. My mother would also make it for us whenever we were ill, it was a very comforting food.

What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli or cafe?

The 13th Note in Glasgow. I used to work there before I came to Soul Food Kitchen. The food was pretty good and tasty, and everything was always fresh and made from scratch.

What would be your last supper?

It would be a portion of rice sourdough bread with butter and a side of vegan foie gras, as it’s one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life. My granny would make it for us in Poland with just butter, onion and lots of herbs, spices and pulses all fried in a pan.

Starter or pudding?

Starter for sure.

Do you have any food hates?

I hate overcooked food; it gives me the fear - whether it’s veg or pasta. I’d say that overcooked broccoli is one of the saddest things.

What starters, main and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party and who would you invite?

I would invite all my fellow chefs and comrades who have worked in the kitchen with me in the past or are working with me just now – we have a special bond.

As far as food is concerned, I’m Polish and fermented foods is part of our culture. Grandmothers, mothers and daughters make sauerkraut for generations using traditional methods.

My party would eat an array of fermented foods like sauerkraut and pickled vegetables with a selection of fermented rye and ancient grain breads along with dips, vegan cheeses and various chutneys. Mains would be veggie curries and different types of naan and roti breads. For dessert I would go for a vegan tiramisu cheesecake.

What's your favourite geographical foodie destination?

I’m a big fan of Asian food but I’ll have to go with France for it is the home of all cuisines. It might sound old fashioned, but I would say some tiny little province in France in the countryside where the food is super fresh and organic.

Healthy-eating vegan restaurant, Soul Food Kitchen, is at 973 Sauchiehall St, Finnieston, Glasgow (www.soulfoodkitchen.co.uk)

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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