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Magda Gessler

Magda Gessler
The United Kingdom has Gordon Ramsay, the United States has Anthony Bourdain, and Poland has Magda Gessler. Though not quite as obnoxious or brash as the aforementioned male chefs, Gessler does have the same celebrity culinary status in her home country thanks to her popular television show (“Kuchenne Rewolucje” or Kitchen Revolution in English, which is similar to Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares”) and a string of restaurants that bear her name. She recently debuted three new restaurant franchises in Lodz at the end of 2011, further expanding the Gessler empire.

Just who is this prolific curly-haired culinary maven? Born Magdalena Ikonowicz in Warsaw in 1953, Gessler spent time in Sofia and Havana as a youth thanks to her father’s career in journalism. She eventually moved to Madrid to study art and stayed for 17 years, acquiring a husband, son and a career managing restaurants. After husband Volkhart Müller passed away in 1989 - an important year in Poland thanks to the fall of communism - Gessler returned to Warsaw and wed Piotr Gessler, a restaurateur whose family was well established in the dining industry.

Though the marriage didn’t last long it produced a child and one of Warsaw’s most famed restaurants, U Fukiera. Gessler kept her second husband’s name - even after a third marriage to a Polish doctor - and uses it to promote her own restaurants like Słodki i Słony as well as 12 others that have franchised the Magda Gessler name. Naturally this causes some unhappy confusion with the original Gessler clan as Magda’s former brother-in-law Adam runs popular restaurants in Warsaw (U Kucharzy) and Krakow (Restauracja Gessler we Francuskim) as well.

Today it’s impossible to talk about Warsaw’s dining evolution without mentioning Gessler, who many credit with modernising Polish cuisine and raising the standard of service since her arrival post-Communism. Should you opt to dine in one of Gessler’s establishments – and considering how prolific she is, it’s almost impossible to avoid – you’ll first be struck by the heavy-handed, lavish (borderline garish) décor that has become her hallmark. Secondly, you’ll note Gessler’s ability to make Polish cuisine (and not all of her restaurants are Polish; Gar and Venezia, for example, skew Italian) more updated and modern, like at her newest venture Słony. There Gessler takes the idea of delicate French canapés and recreates them with traditional Polish staples like pickles and smalec (lard spread).

If you find yourself dazzled by all things Gessler during your visit, make a point of seeking out her latest cookbook, The Spoon of Violets, from a local bookstore to take home with you.  

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Magda Gessler comments Add Yours

  • w - lodz, pl 24 April 2013
    She just copy her programs, ideas from American Cooking Channels, how sad!
  • Mratznell - Melbourne, Florida 24 January 2013
    Well, Chris, first of all why do you make grammar mistakes, i mean You are so refined you are too good for Polish food...Second of all, people do not know how stupid you are until you open your mouth...congrats!and yes Gessler is not Gordon Ramsey... Thank God!I have been professional chef for over ten years in best restaurants in the U.S. and all I can tell you ...You Are Wrong
  • Matt - London, United Kindom 15 October 2012
    To Chris. U say polish food is awful? Well so tell me what exactly is "Canadian kitchen"? Pancakes with Maple syrup? LOL and u calling it a FOOD? U must be kiddin me. Yes Magda Gessler is actually more a tv personality than a masterchef and she got into restaurant buisness trough her second marriage but she is doing pretty fine and not everyone must be a Ducass with a restaurant with three Michelin stars. And what a miserable sad person u must be to call Polish nation a stupid nation. Look in the mirror and go to McDonald's. I'm sure another Big Mac would make u feel better and happy. Next time when u will go on the Internet to bash anyone have some pancakes first. And smile;) world isn't such a bad place like u think. Mr "smart, beautiful and for sure FIT too" Chris. That's all.
  • Chris - Toronto, Canada/Ontario 04 October 2012
    Polish television even copied motive with knives. Gessler- she committed many basic culinary mistakes I couldn't believe my own eyes and ears.By the way... Polish food is awful. - Greasy, unhealthy and prepared with broken every rule of culinary art. Gessler has a very big distance to Gordon Ramsey so big as from Warsaw to London. Again... Polish damn plagiarism. - They to stupid to develop something on their own.

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