FOURty Seconds with Tomasz Hartman

17 Jun 2015
4 min read
Head Chef Tomasz Hartman of Szajnochy 11 restaurant in Wrocław, Poland talks to FOUR about leading Poland’s gastronomic revolution through the project, Food Think Tank.
Food Think Tank

Functioning as an educative food lab akin to the Danish, Nordic Food Lab or Ferran Adria’s, El Bulli Foundation, Executive chefTomasz Hartmanhopes to encourage the idea thatculinary arts is multifaceted and can be usedas an incredible learning tool.

With an established goal of gaining and sharing knowledge,experts and students alike can move forward and develop with their culinary creativity.Food Think Tank joins different worlds together, which allows meeting at a point of entirely new thinking about food, thanks to the different perspectives.

Tell us a bit about Food Think Tank…

Food Think Tank is about education. Although the people who create it are specialists of their fields, we all are masters and students here. We keep an eye on the process, to make sure it keeps flowing – even when it goes astray, even if it means losing something. Our goal is to gather and share the knowledge, because the highest quality lies in the sentence „the moge you give, the more you get”. In its structure, Food Think Tank binds many different worlds. This multitude of perspectives allows us to meet in the point of a completely new way of thinking about food. We work with what is local and authorial, and the complementary goods created this way change the world here and now. Food Think Tank absorbs us completely – it changes our lifes day by day and gives our work a deeper meaning.

What events can be expected from the organisation?

The Food Think Tank Foundation is working on five projects at the moment, one of them is „Forest – Installation” which is going to travel with us to three European cities, one of them being San Sebastian. The Installation, once again, gathers a group of specialists, some of them we have worked with already, some of them are new to the project. Together we plan to realize the fifth educational project, this time with a focus on the forest as our main theme. Head chefs, confectioners, scientists, students, artists, craftsmen, ceramicists, glassmen, musicians, filmmakers, performers, bartenders, baristas, farmers, copywriters, computer scientists and electronic engineers will join their abilities, skills and knowledge. The value created based on these relations will be the tool that will let us factorise the forest, and by that we mean exploring its character in terms of nature and the projections of nature cultivated in our culture.

To concentrate the guests’ attention even more on the the focal point, which in gastronomy has always been the table, this time, placed in the city centre, we will use it as a recepient of a forest transplant. To achieve the goal, we will use edible fruits of the forest, scents and sounds of a forestal origin and the tableware and arrangement will remind of the forest with the forms and the materials used to create them. Our guests will be interacting with the table – and not just by consuming dishes. The dinner, regardless of the serving order and main schedule, will be enriched with an element of the unpredictable, brought about by the latest computer technologies. Light, motion and sound sensors will help us deepening our guests’ sense impressions by triggering adequate effects. Thus the forest, detached from nature as it would seem at first, through cooperation of our specialists, guests and the latest technology, will be created once again and brought to life. So how will the ‘Forest – Instalation’ look like in its filnal form? We will know that not sooner than the moment it is done.

How did you decide to start Food Think Tank?

The FTT Collective came into being driven by the need for unbounded thoughts and actions, it is like an ocean for the craftsmen, where they can swim towards their own goal with the support of other professionals’ experience and knowledge. Now that is where all the new, better ideas come from.

In terms of your cooking, what would you say has been your biggestinspiration?

To me, what is most inspiring is discovering old methods of processing that, while chasing the novelties of the trade, I have been rejecting in my kitchen for such a long time, i.e. pickling, fermenting, drying, smoking, marinating.

What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?

I have always loved soups and for as long as I remember we would always start eating with a soup at my home. To be honest I am still working on my own soup.

Describe how you see your own culinary style and how it has evolved over the years…

It has started very childishly and I am affraid that it is still the way it works, I always get fascinated by something and when it happens I am happy like a child that I have discovered a new product which has actually been discovered a billion times before, but in my heart it is like the first time.

What are your most indispensable ingredients?

I am really keen on butter, lemon, lemon thyme, chilli, dill, smoked fish and tomatoes.

What do you gain as a chef from having collaborations such as this one?

A broader perspective to see my own work from: a ceramicist looks at a plate differently than a photographer, a musician, a designer, a chemist or a chef does. And, paradoxically, that does not lead to complicating the form, but rather to simplicity, because, as a professional chef, I know my place and I know what should be left to other specialists.

What would you say has been the most memorable moment in your culinary career so far?

I will never forget the moment when I walked into the restaurant’s kitchen 20 years ago, I was 16. I saw a group of grown men playing dice and the only thing they would talk about was food. I was fascinated and I still remember that.

What’s next for you?

I plan to keep on doing what I do now, step by step, work in the kitchen and lead the FTT Foundation.

What restaurant is currently at the top of your list to dine at?

I would really love to eat at David Chang’s

Find out more about Tomasz and the Food Think Tank here |