Why this chef-to-the-stars has created a ‘Welsh Rarebit’ pizza with lamb and leeks
A chef-to-the-stars who has cooked for big hitters like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mike Tyson has come up with a knock-out idea for an Italian classic with a Welsh twist.
Culinary whiz Kris Tkaczyk, who works at Adventure Parc Snowdonia in the picturesque surroundings of Dolgarrog in the Conwy Valley, has fused foodie favourites from both countries to create a Welsh Rarebit pizza, with lamb and leeks.
According to Kris, who works in the lagoon-side restaurant and the on-site Hilton hotel at the complex, he wanted to create a special tribute to his home from home in Wales.
The father-of-two is originally from the small town of Piskorowice in southern Poland where he inherited his love of cooking from his mother, a fantastic baker and pastry maker.
After training originally as an electrical engineer, he upped sticks nearly 20 years ago and, encouraged by his cousin who was already there, settled in Birmingham where his passion for food led him to change career and become a chef.
Kris, 42, cut his culinary teeth working for his idol, Michelin-starred super chef Marco Pierre White, in his restaurant in the city’s iconic Cube building.
His skills as a pizza maker were honed working for the Italian restaurant chain, Zizzi, and his gastronomic odyssey included a spell at Spanish Tapas restaurant, La Tasca.
Kris said: “I realised I wanted to be a chef because I had a real passion for food and I decided I wanted to work in as many places as I could.
“Chef Marco was a massive inspiration to me and I was lucky enough to meet him. He’s an amazing personality.
“I also had the honour of cooking him breakfast, Omelette Arnold Benedict, although it was a nerve-wracking experience. I nearly dropped the pan because I was so stressed.
“Chef Marco ate it and said it was good, so I’m guessing I passed the test. I was over the moon. For me, it was better than getting a Michelin star when chef Marco said he enjoyed it.
“I’ve cooked for a lot of celebrities in my time, soap stars and footballers and I suppose the most famous were Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mike Tyson but for me chef Marco was the one who meant most to me.”
Five years ago, Kris and his family relocated to the north of Wales because they were looking for “a new adventure in a family friendly environment”.
Since arriving in Abergele, one of his claims to fame was cooking for the crew and producer of the second series of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here when it was being broadcast from down the road at Gwrych Castle.
Kris is now loving life working at Adventure Parc Snowdonia, where he splits his time between the lagoon-side restaurant and at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel.
He said: “What brought me to north Wales was because it offers so much for families and the food scene was great.
“North Wales looks exactly like where I’m from in the south of Poland so I thought it would be nice for my children to grow up in a similar environment.
“It has also enabled me to work at Adventure Parc Snowdonia which is such an incredible place.
“My speciality here is pizza which I learned how to handle pizza and how to stretch the pizza by hand when I worked with Zizzi.
“We do stone baked pizza here – the pizza goes straight onto the hot stone and that’s what makes it so special. It makes it crisp and delicious plus the recipe for our own in-house pizza sauce is amazing as well.
“I am developing a new range of pizzas with a whole host of different toppings. One of my favourite combinations is roast chicken, a bit of bolognese and chorizo, so it’s a meat feast.
“I also want to pay tribute to my adopted homeland in the best possible way I can so I have come up with a Welsh Rarebit pizza with lamb and leeks.
“This pizza is an expression of my love for north Wales.”
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Could he not fit any seaweed on there too to make it even more Welsh?