The Krawczyk way

Frank and Rob Krak

Posted on: 31st August, 2017

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

Krawczyk, 68, an award-winning charcutier from Schull, set up West Cork Salamis in the late 1990s making sausages and salamis from recipes he inherited from his maternal grandmother. After leaving art college to follow a career with food, Frank’s son Rob Krawczyk went on to win the RAI Best Chef in Leinster for two years running. Having recently left Brabazon at Tankardstown, Rob has spent the summer travelling and working his magic in the kitchen at The Glebe in Baltimore and is now in the process of opening his own restaurant in West Cork. Both father and son feature in this year’s A Taste of West Cork Food Festival (see the programme for more details).

Frank’s parents escaped the Stalin regime in Poland and Frank was born in a refugee camp in Uganda. One of his earliest memories around food is foraging in the woodland surrounding the camp. “Being so small, I’d find the porcini quicker than my parents,” he says. He also recalls the wonderful chicken broth his mother made from the few chickens she kept. “Our family always prepared and ate food together around the table when I was growing up,” says Frank. “I think it’s important that children are given the same food to eat as their parents and that meals are eaten together. That’s something that’s missing from a lot of homes today.”

Rob has fond memories of his parents picking produce from the garden and cooking their dinners. “Both my parents have really influenced me,” he says “and food has always been around me from a young age when my parents ran a small restaurant out of our home.”

Frank moved to Ireland from London in 1980. He tried his hand at a number of things and after his award-winning cheese-making business failed, he and his wife ran a small restaurant from their home in Schull. It was during this time, nostalgic for the Polish sausages he was brought up on, that he started making his acclaimed sausages and salamis.

“I’m immensely proud of my dad,” says Rob, who learned the art of charcuterie from his father. “He’s worked very hard and has achieved something that, at the start, people said wasn’t possible in Ireland’s climate.”

Both men share a passion for simple humble ingredients and an admiration for restaurants such as Pilgrims and Mews in West Cork. “They are young driven people who have left cities to establish themselves in the country, which is challenging. More and more chefs are moving from the cities for various reasons and are highlighting the already beautiful produce in West Cork to a wider audience,” says Rob. “I think that’s why West Cork.

“There is a lot to be said for keeping things as close to their natural state as possible,” says Frank whose idea of the perfect meal is veg picked from the garden and put with a nice piece of fish. “I really admire people who embrace the seasonality, provenance and simplicity of food.”

Inspired by his father, Rob never tires of learning and pushing beyond the boundaries. “I am always interested to see what chefs are creating around the world. Being a member of JRE Ireland and UK enables me to travel around the world and I really enjoy meeting chefs from different countries and getting to speak with them about their work.”

“West Cork is home though and always will be,” says Rob.

“It’s my place of belonging,” says Frank simply.

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Dúchas Clonakilty's first lecture for the Autumn promises to be of huge interest to all: Emerging from the Shadow of Tom Crean – The Parish Centre, Clonakilty, Thursday September 28th 8.30pm.

Lecture by Aileen Crean O’Brien & Bill Sheppard

In May 2016, Kerry man Tom Crean, along with Ernest Shackleton and four other crew members, landed the James Caird lifeboat on the rocky isle of South Georgia. The navigation of that small boat, across 1500 km through icy winds and towering seas, is regarded as the greatest ever feat of navigation. They then trekked across the forbidding and inhospitable mountains and glaciers of South Georgia to seek help for the rest of their crew, who were left behind on Elephant Island after their ship, the Endurance, was crushed by the Antarctic ice.

One hundred years later, Crean’s grandaughter, Aileen Crean O’Brien, set off with her sons and partner to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps. Join Aileen and Bill to hear of their adventures (and misadventures) on the Southern Ocean and the island of South Georgia.
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