Lukasz Piasecki

The head chef at The Plough in Harborne, Lukasz Piasecki talks bold combinations, eating and growing up in Poland and making sausage black pudding from scratch!

Tell us about your cooking

It’s rooted in seasonal and fresh flavours. I get really excited about using unexpected and bold combinations but simplicity lies at the heart of my cooking.

Describe your perfect meal

My grandmother’s white bread dumplings with dark duck sauce, braised white cabbage, smoked bacon and dill, served with a side of cherry and apple compote. It’s a really simple dish yet packed with flavour and unexpected pairings. This meal has a personal resonance and reminds me of my childhood.

How did you become a chef?

As you may have guessed my grandmother was a significant influence and inspired me to become a chef. Growing up, Poland was a very poor country and it was hard to find interesting ingredients. We had a small garden with a vegetable patch and a few chickens, ducks, rabbits and, on occasion, a pig. I learned my basic skills from my grandmother (at 11, I could make a mean sausage black pudding from scratch!) and then went on to study food at college. I worked in a gastro pub and then a fine dining restaurant before coming to the UK and The Plough.

What do you eat when at home?

I’ll always try to use what I already have in the cupboards – old habits die hard! I challenge myself to create new dishes and experiment with flavour, as well as wasting less. Just yesterday I made pork neck with porcini mushrooms with a side of roasted parsnips, beetroots, carrots, celery and ginger.

Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?

In the world it’s René Redzepi – he has a two-Michelin star restaurant called Noma in Copenhagen. When I met him he said he was inspired by traditional Polish dishes such as Barszcz (a homemade beetroot soup). I also admire Michael Moran and Kurt Scheller. I think the best chef in Birmingham is Brad Carter from Carters in Moseley. His food is innovative, exciting and inspiring.

Is the customer always right?

Absolutely. Everyone has different taste and a right to an opinion.

What’s the best thing about being a chef?

The end of a good shift where everything ran smoothly and the feedback has been positive is a real adrenalin hit.

What’s the worst thing about being a chef?

When someone didn’t enjoy the food – that can ruin my day… weekend… week!

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?

I can’t imagine that! I did dabble with race car driving once, so I would have to say an F1 driver.

What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?

The Plough Burger. Our burgers are made from meat by award-winning, local butcher Aubrey Allen and our brioche buns are made by Jewellery Quarter-based baker Peel & Stone, the patty is topped with our very own Plough sauce – it’s a pretty formidable combination.

LUKASZ’S RECIPE FOR WARM CHICKEN SALAD

Recipe

This is a really simple dish that packs a lot of flavour and is ideal if you’re cooking for one.

Ingredients: Serves 1

• 100g baby spinach leaves

• 1 chicken breast

• 60g of lilliput capers

• 40g of roasted pine nuts

• 90g of carrots

• 30g of caper berries

• Coconut oil (for pan frying the chicken)

For the dressing:

• 50 ml extra virgin olive oil

• 1tsp American mustard

• 1tsp Rowsey Honey

• 1tbsp bianco balsamic vinegar

• Pinch of salt and pepper

Method:

Wash and dry the spinach leaves. Cut the carrots julienne style (into very thin strips). To make the salad combine the spinach leaves, carrots, capers, pine nuts and caper berries in a serving bowl. To make the dressing combine and stir the olive oil, mustard, honey and balsamic vinegar and then season. Shallow fry the chicken breast in the coconut oil until the chicken is cooked through and golden and crisp. Slice and toss the warm chicken over the salad and drizzle with the dressing. Serve straight away.

The Plough, 21 High Street, Harborne, B17 9NT. Tel: 0121 427 3678 www.theploughharborne.co.uk