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.