“If I’m making dinner for you, you are a VIP”: Meet our new Executive Chef, Piotr Krawczyk-Plonka
At University of London Venues, we’re proud to offer exceptional bespoke hospitality for every occasion. That’s why we’re delighted to welcome our new Executive Chef with a wealth of experience cooking for clients from all walks of life.
Piotr Krawczyk-Plonka was born on raised in Świnoujście on the northwestern coast of Poland, close to the German border. Growing up, he would watch his mother and grandmother cooking traditional dishes, and it was there that inspiration struck. “I started cooking and experimenting myself,” he recalls. “My mum wasn’t happy because there would always be a big mess in the kitchen!”
After studying nutrition at culinary school in Poland, then developing his skills in numerous restaurants, Piotr moved to London in 2002. Since then, he has worked as Head Chef at several football clubs, high-end event venues and Westminster government buildings, and as a Private Chef for Lord Peter Mandelson. During his time at Chelsea, he recalls cooking for players including Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack and Didier Drogba, who was “amazing – he always came in and say ‘good morning’.”
Piotr sees food as a medium of expression; the plate that arrives in front of you should tell you something about the chef behind the swinging door. “When I make a dish and plate it, I think about what I want people to see when it gets to the table. Because when I’m cooking for you, you never see me – the presentation of the food is how you think of the chef.”
He enjoys the process of co-creating the menu for an event with the client: “I write proposal menus and give the clients a choice. I talk to them first – what do they expect, who are their guests, what do they like? And then I’ll give them the menu and they choose from it. I always make a few options, like three starters, three mains and three desserts.”
Ultimately, the client is at the heart of what Piotr does – he’s keen to ensure the menu is tailored to their requirements. “I'm very open to every opinion. If you tell me what you want, I'll give you my advice. You might have a vision for your food and I might have one too, and I’ll make them work together.
In his new role at the University of London Venues, Piotr is looking forward to catering for such a wide variety of guests and events. “Here it's perfect because you have different clients, from the in-house café to event hospitality – from sandwich lunches to fine dining, all five or six courses. That’s great, because I’m always looking for a new challenge.”
True to our ethos at University of London Venues, Piotr is committed to environmentally friendly hospitality: his menus have a seasonal focus and keep food waste to a minimum. “I like to buy wonky veg from suppliers and make a lovely dish with it – I don't want to buy carrots that look exactly the same. I prefer when every vegetable looks different. It’s all about how you present it.
“I make menus based on the seasons. There’s no point in making dishes like it's the summer when it's winter – not only is it very expensive and difficult, but the produce isn’t at its best. When I make a menu, I like it to reflect the differences of the year.”
Food fit for a king
Over the course of his career, Piotr has cooked for politicians, celebrities, athletes, and even Royal Family members, including King Charles (then the Prince of Wales). While working at Lancaster House in the early 2000s, he recalls Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth passing through the kitchen
I'd been so focused on my work, and the chefs all started laughing, “do you know who was just in the kitchen?” – she’d been walking one metre from me!
Despite his star-studded roster of clients, Piotr prides himself on taking the same level of care over every dish, no matter who it’s for. “For me, everybody's the same. If you’re my client, I’ll do my best work for you. If I’m making dinner for you, you are a VIP – that's it.”
Whether you’re hosting a business lunch or a banquet, our hospitality team will help you make it an event to remember – get in touch to discuss your needs.