An invitation to speak at a TED event has always been a secret dream of mine…
There is no fame or fortune that comes from being a TED speaker, but to receive an email one day, out-of-the-blue, is one of those moments that made my heart skip a beat. It felt like getting an invite to sit at the cool kids table, because someone, somewhere, thought that I had an “idea worth spreading.” And when that idea was something that I had been crafting, developing and refining for years, this invite—to me—was the ultimate validation.
That was the exciting part, as soon as I accepted, the panic and nerves set in. I had one shot—15 minutes—to tell the world about something that took me the better part of 4 years to figure out. In addition to that, I would be standing on a stage, halfway across the world, in front of hundreds of people who were smarter than me. Intimidating to say the least.
I’ll get back to my talk in a bit, because where I spoke is for more interesting than anything that I said.
Warsaw, Poland. It is a beautiful, fascinating, confusing city whose history is as incredible as it is sad. The gorgeous “Old Town” is tourist central with it’s small cobble stone streets and tightly packed buildings. It is very reminiscent of the towns that Brooke and I have visited in Italy that date back to the 11th century (or earlier). The difference is that Warsaw’s Old Town was built, well, rebuilt, in the 1950’s.
After being devastated in World War II, 95% of the city was completely leveled, and reconstruction began as soon as it could. Today, only cracks in the plaster facades of the Old Town give a hint to the young bones that lie beneath. Outside of the Old Town you’ll see hulking concrete relics of the Communist era, as well as modern European streets with bustling coffee shops and restaurants.
The restaurants. You knew we were going to get to the food eventually, right? If you’re like me you’re thinking- “Ok, so food in Poland. How many perogies can you eat?” Turns out I can eat a lot of perogies. Also, it turns out there is some amazing food happening in Warsaw.
Of course I was fortunate to have an awesome host- Gosia Minta– a well known, Warsaw-based food blogger and cookbook author who helped me get beyond perogies and see the thriving food scene in Warsaw. Like any great cuisine, the food in Warsaw thrives thanks to pristine local ingredients and creative chefs putting their twists on traditional dishes.
From a warm mousse of smoked eel and farm eggs…
to foie gras with ramps, morels and buckwheat,
our first meal at alewino.pl wasn’t just the best meal I had in Warsaw, it was one the best meals I’ve had anywhere recently.
There were open, beautiful places to mix with the locals over coffee and breakfast with loads of freshly baked, chewy, dense (in a good way) breads baked on-site.
But as much as I would have loved to be in Warsaw just for an extensive foodie tour, alas there was work to do. I had my own ideas on food to share. Like why a chicken and mushroom burger spread with strawberry ketchup makes perfect sense and how it may even help solve some the biggest issues that face our food supply. Want to know why? Stay tuned for my talk!