Twice a month, we shine a spotlight on our favourite chefs in the city. This time around, it’s Polish couple Sebastian and Roma Barticzka of Schmeckerei/Pierogi.
After travelling across Europe with their four daughters RV-style, Polish couple Sebastian and Roma Barticzka settled in Berlin in 2014 so their daughters could go to school. But what would they do for a living? Open a restaurant serving traditional and non-traditional versions of their homeland’s specialities. In their small restaurant Schmeckerei/Pierogi on Brunnenstraße, the couple serves up hearty soups, salads and, of course, Polish dumplings in a homey, inviting and unpretentious atmosphere. We spoke with Sebastian.
What food do you cook?
We specialise in pierogi. Pierogi are traditional Polish dumplings, normally filled with savoury ingredients like cheese or sauerkraut, but we also do sweet versions with fruits like blueberries. It’s really hard to get good-tasting pierogi at restaurants, even back in Poland – most places buy the stuff frozen. So we wanted to serve the real, authentically-handmade, dumplings here to our customers in Berlin.
Your best-selling item?
During the two years we’ve been open I haven’t noticed a best-selling item. But we like to listen to our customers and give them what they want – they tend to prefer the most traditional pierogi options like cheese and potato.
What food trend do you hate the most?
I don’t hate any of them. I love the fact that there is such a wide range of choice of food in Berlin. In just the 200 metres around my own restaurant, people have 30 different styles of cuisine to choose from – I think that’s great!
A cooking tip…
We both agree that if you have fresh ingredients, and cook them simply, then it is hard to go wrong in the kitchen. But one thing that I think it really important is to taste your food! I never serve anything unless I have tasted it as I went along – it has to taste good. So many people don’t taste the food they have cooked before they serve it.
A dining tip (other than your own restaurant)…
We both work really long hours here at the restaurant, it’s just the two of us, and after we are done here we just go home to the children. There isn’t really much time for us to eat out. But I remember once we went to an Asian restaurant way out in Moabit – Zhou’s Five – it’s a buffet place, and everyone was happy afterwards. It isn’t exactly what you would call fine dining, but it was a great for us to take our daughters, who are all so fussy!
The best thing about having a restaurant here in Berlin…
My customers! We’re new at the restaurant business, we aren’t professsionals – we just cook food that we think tastes good. So when we get people coming back and bringing their friends, it makes us feel that we are doing something right. Everyone in this city is so unique and interesting, and it’s great that they can come here and connect over our food.
It is a lot of hard work running a small business in Berlin. We have yet to find staff who can keep things just the way we like them, and who listen to our customers as much as we do. For us, making sure our customers are happy is everything – but it can be very tiring.