Devon born, Michelin starred and Masterchef competitor Anton Piotrowski, like many others, has recently fallen in love with Liverpool.
So much so that he’s hung up his apron and accolades in Devon to start again and to be with his girlfriend and Liverpool; his two new loves. A couple of years ago he acquired Pushcka, the beautiful Rodney Street restaurant that has been a cornerstone in Liverpool’s restaurant scene for almost two decades and turned it into Röski – the self titled restaurant going for the city’s first Michelin star. Many have come close in the city but the elusive star has sometimes seemed further away than the ones in the sky. But dining is changing. It’s not all white gloves, tiny and meticulously placed portions and overly attentive staff and Anton is determined to show that.
We sat down with him:
What’s your story then? Where are you from and how did you get into cooking?
So, I was born in small, sleepy village in Devon. There wasn’t a lot to do other than surf or get into trouble. I chose both, haha! But that path wasn’t going to lead me very far. So at 14 I got a job in a local pub, and from there i completely fell in love with all things to do with the catering industry. Even though back then getting pans chucked at you during service and sworn at 16 hours a day was the norm, it didn’t stop my passion and desire to be part of the industry.
Growing up, my Nan, who was born in Pakistan was a massive influence in my life and still is to this day. Heat and spice play a big part in my cooking even though the dishes themselves are classically prepared. Mum cooked for the nuns and still does to this day. They had about a 2 acre plot of land with vegetables growing all year round, and that was where my love for fresh ingredients came from. After working in London for 7 and a half years under some of the top chefs in the UK, I returned to Devon and bought my local pub – It was here that I gained my Michelin star.
I originally applied for the Roux scholarship, it was initially just to prove to myself I could cook at such a level. But I got an email saying I was too old to apply and to try Masterchef The Professionals.
We know you were on Masterchef, what has life been like post that?
Masterchef brought me a lot of attention. We went from doing 30 covers a night at The Treby Arms to doing 120 covers a day for 4 years. And then in 2014 I got the highest accolade of them all, a Michelin star. Which I held up in February 2017 when I gave it up for love and to move to Liverpool.
You’ve taken over Puschka – a building well known for brilliant food. Does that add more pressure or are you in your element?
It’s a funny one- within the first week of moving to Liverpool we viewed Pushka, it was situated in the most beautiful location on one of the most famous streets in Liverpool. I loved everything about it. But, I didn’t want to jump into anything too quickly and so I continued looking around Liverpool, we must’ve viewed over 100 properties! But I just couldn’t get Pushka out of my head. I think the owners, Doug and Glen, the most welcoming guys you could wish to meet during what could sometimes be a sticky situation only added to It’s charm. I think Pushka’s appeal for so many years has massively been in part to both Doug and Glen.
I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t any pressure there, opening any restaurant anywhere always comes with pressure. But hopefully we’re going to offer Liverpool something it hasn’t seen before and I couldn’t be more excited about that. I just cant wait to get behind the stove and start cooking again!
Do you think Liverpool is ready for a Michelin star restaurant?
I think it’s not so much about Liverpool being ready for a Michelin star, I think it deserves a star. With so many culinary destinations in the city, and so many people who love dining out, I think it’s time the city was recognised.
Also, as soon as you say the world Michelin, a lot of people’s perceptions are that of stiff service, white tablecloths and waiters in white gloves. This isn’t the case anymore and this is something we at Röski want to challenge. That yes, you can have consistent food packed with incredible flavours, amazing wine and outstanding service all in a relaxed atmosphere where you can relax and just completely enjoy your evening.
All that being said, I’m not cooking for accolades, I’m cooking for my customers. And fingers crossed, the accolades will follow.
What kind of food can people expect who visit you?
Whole roasted caramelised cauliflower, caramelised cauliflower purée, Parmesan custard, frozen apple, Garam masala curry oil. Sticky black bean pheasant bao bun, chilli chorizo jam, fried quails egg. Caramelised white chocolate, Yorkshire forced rhubarb, and builders tea ice cream. And of course, some of my classics from Masterchef, like Pigeon Wellington and ‘Röski’s Gone Carrots’.
But of course, with us offering a 5 and 7 course taster menu, dishes will change by the season and we will only use the best produce we can get our hands on at the time.