Executive Head Chef, SocietyDXB Café & Lounge Jarek Wysmyk knows his way around the kitchen, but what makes his dishes wow-worthy at the oh-so-chic venue?
Tell us a bit more about your background.
I started cooking when I was 15, as an apprentice at one of the local restaurants in my home city in Poland. Food was very simple back then. You would spend your days preparing hors d’oeuvres or covering meat platters with aspic, and decorating with funky carved vegetables, something that you can still find in most of the cookbooks from the 80s.
Working in the kitchen was always where I could find myself, but I was getting bored very quickly. By the time I finished college, I already had three different chef jobs on my account. A few years later, I decided to move abroad and look for more challenges.
During the last 10 years, I worked in multiple restaurants in Ireland and managed to graduate from the Technological University in Dublin. Eventually, I worked my way up to successfully run one of the busiest restaurants in the city, Rustic Stone, with Chef Dylan McGrath.
Currently, I live in Dubai with a total of three locally-based pre-openings, Common Grounds MOE, Brunswick Sheraton, and now Society DXB as executive head chef with my amazing and talented team from MAD Investments.
What was your first big breakthrough?
I think it was probably couple of years ago when I took a job at Rustic Stone by Dylan McGrath in Dublin. It was quite challenging to get the high position there, so I started as a chef de partie. The environment was very harsh and strict with long rush hours. I almost walked out during my first week; it was so hard that I couldn’t keep up with their tempo. I felt that it was a small step back for me, but in reality, that was when my career finally started to progress.
I discovered my passion for cooking again, learned many new techniques and what being a chef is really about. It got to the point where I really wanted to know everything about every section and learn all the recipes, do it as best as I could. I became very obsessive and organised; it was very addictive. I believe things happen for reason, and hard work always pays off. Two years later, I became their head chef.
What’s your cooking style?
Comfortable, simple and vibrant food would be the answer. I’m a big nomad, and I do travel a lot, so my focus has a very wide and multicultural radius; I like every culture and cuisine on this planet, and being open to them is giving me an interesting range of inspiration and possibilities. On the other hand, I’m French cuisine-trained and I do follow their culinary ethics in everything I cook.
How would you describe your management method in the kitchen?
I like giving my chefs a little bit of space and a comfortable environment. I don’t micro manage them as long as they’re doing their job properly. I did a lot of high-pressure environment jobs in the past, and I know how hard it can get, especially when you are new to the industry.
These days, I’m taking a different approach and focusing on the recruitment part. I always want to make sure that my chefs think the same way as I do, and that they can grow with me. At the end of the day, if they fail to do their job, it means that I recruited the wrong person.
What’s the hottest dish on your menu right now and why?
For breakfast, definitely croissant eggs benedict, it’s our staple. Sometimes people fly in from abroad to taste it, and we can sell up to 150 portions a day. It’s crazy.
type of diner do you mostly cater to and what was the strangest request you’ve
It’s very hard to say, a lot of mixed cultures coming through our doors on a daily basis. They all have different needs and requirements, and we’re trying our best to accommodate them all, that’s why we create a menu that’s simple and flexible.
But, of course, for some of them this isn’t enough, and their special request can become our nightmare. The funniest case is probably the one with “poached egg whites”, without yolk, and so we did it. However, that was only a one-time request, and the customer was really polite. Normally, I would refuse.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about chefs out there?Don’t trust a skinny chef.
What can we expect from SocietyDXB Café & Lounge in the coming year?
There’s a lot happening by the end of this year; we’re revamping our existing lunch offerings, adding couple of new breakfast items which will be more health-focused, as well as plenty of new pastries and desserts. We like to keep our clientele entertained, so it’s definitely something interesting.
I think it’s important to mention that the whole team behind SocietyDXB is currently working on two very unique concepts, also in Dubai. One of them is set to open this December, and will reflect the eclectic/Mediterranean dining experience in a modern setting.
The second project is scheduled to open in January next year, and it’s more “masculine”, as opposed to what SocietyDXB currently is. I can’t really share the details just yet, but it will be located in a very convenient location, and of course with plenty of parking as always. So stay tuned.