Sitting in the corner of a restaurant kitchen in Poland, a young boy diligently works on his homework while his mother cooks dinner, both for him and the patrons in her restaurant.
Flash forward a number of years and Marcin Ceglarz has moved to Ireland and is working his way through a number of Irish kitchens, eventually finding himself Head Chef of Anglers Rest in Dublin.
As we speak on the phone, Marcin remembers his childhood with fondness, recalling: “When I was a little boy, I always went to my mother’s restaurant after school. I sat in the kitchen’s corner doing my homework and had my meal with my mother, who then sent me home.”
He laughs, “Even when my mother was pregnant, I was kind of already working in the kitchen with her.”
Growing up in a family of restaurateurs, Marcin Ceglarz has always had cooking in his blood: “I come from a restaurateurs family and my mother was a head chef. She finished school and then opened up her own restaurant and helped me when I decided I wanted to be a chef.”
Marcin spent five and a half years studying to be a chef. In Poland, there are two different courses for chefs, one to be a standard chef and the other to be a head chef – he chose the latter.
Upon finishing his studies, he decided to move to Ireland in search of adventure, thanks to the flexibility of careers in the food industry:
I was young and brave and when I had discovered the world, I chose Ireland. Even the teachers in my college said I had chosen very well. You can find work anywhere in the world as a chef.
He jumped on the chance to take part in an opportunity for chefs with Fáilte Ireland. He undertook ten weeks of training from Irish chefs before embarking on his journey to the Emerald Isle.
He has been with Anglers Rest now for 7 years and when asked why the restaurant is so popular among Dubliners, he explains:
We have fresh fish delivered to us every day so we prep seafood on a daily basis. I think people are attracted to the restaurant because we don’t overcomplicate our dishes. We prepare and serve the fish using old techniques.
When describing his own personal style of cooking, Marcin says he loves to cook clean, healthy and simple food using the freshest local ingredients.
With local ingredients holding a high place for Marcin, Anglers Rest champion a number of Irish producers on their menu including Dublin Bay Prawns, Killary Harbour Mussels, Clonakilty Black Pudding and Beef from Slaney Foods, Co. Wexford.
Marcin’s favourite dish on the menu at Anglers Rest is the Black Sole on the Bone because “not many restaurants do it anymore as it’s very expensive. But we try not to overcharge for it.”
Other seafood dishes on the menu include Lobster Thermidor, Panfried Fillet of Hake, Dublin Bay Prawn Cocktail and a Seafood Platter containing citrus crab, mussels, smoked salmon, prawn Marie Rose, lobster and brown bread.
Chefs have notoriously stressful careers and having been in the food industry now for 23 years, Marcin tries to keep a good work/life balance by keeping active and ensuring he keeps his mind clear:
A chef’s job is really stressful, so I have a very good hobby which is mountain biking. My adrenaline gets pumping once I’m on my bike. You forget all the walls of your life, you just have the track in front of you.
With his experience in a wide variety of different restaurants, Marcin offers some advice for young chefs looking to make a name for themselves in the food industry.
He says the most important thing is to “work hard, concentrate and do the homework”. He also recommends not to be afraid to travel to different places and gain experiences in a good number of kitchens:
As a young chef, you should try to travel and experience different kitchens and working environments as you won’t find your experience in books or on YouTube. You’ll find both good and bad chefs along the way, but you can take the best from every chef. With every new place, aim higher and higher.
According to Marcin, if you spend a year or two in a different place you’ll learn everything you need. Speaking about Two Michelin Starred Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, a restaurant he greatly admires, “you’ll learn how to do things ten different ways there.”
Looking to the future, Marcin is hoping to continually improve the standard at Anglers Rest and perhaps even introduce some new dishes to the menu, something he believes is possible thanks to the “very good team of chefs” at the restuarant.
Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.
Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.