Lublin chef joins ‘cooking show royalty’ in ultimate challenge for title of Top Chef World All-Star
A chef from Lublin is gunning for the title of World All-Star – and an accompanying jackpot prize of USD 250,000 – after being selected to compete in the first ever edition of Top Chef World All-Stars.
Gleaning contestants from 16 countries, 32-year-old Sylwia Stachyra faces stiff competition from her fellow professionals, all of which have previously either won or appeared as finalists on national or localised editions of the show.
Described as “cooking show royalty”, the Emmy-winning programme will be primarily set in London before building to a grand finale to be staged in Paris.
With the Top Chef brand regarded as a global phenomenon, the inaugural World All-Star competition promises to be a ratings winner and the most high-profile season yet to be recorded.
Presented by host Padma Lakshmi, and judged by the legendary culinary figureheads Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio, All-Stars is already two episodes in, having first aired on Bravo last week.
Breezing through the first episode with relative ease, Stachyra won praise for her “perfectly cooked vegetables” during the opening elimination stage of the competition, but faced a more challenging time in episode two.
Criticised for using vanilla salt in her rice, the Lubliner nonetheless avoided an early exit on account of an “incredible” accompanying stew.
Although missing from the early list of favourites, Stachyra will now be looking to rally as the show begins to heat up.
For certain, she should not be counted out just yet.
Though originally graduating as a lawyer, Stachyra turned her back on a legal career to instead – and to the dismay of her parents – pursue her passion for cooking.
Completing culinary college in England, she then cut her teeth as a chef de partie at Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill.
A qualified sailor, she also spent time working as a chef on luxury yachts, using this chapter to explore the cuisines of such nations as Turkey, Italy, Spain and Japan.
Eventually returning home, Stachyra led the kitchen at Lublin’s extraordinary Alter Hotel before appearing on season seven of Top Chef Polska.
Screened in 2018, and adjudicated by national gastronomic treasures such as Poland’s first Michelin star holder, Wojciech Amaro, and the country’s best-known food critic, Maciej Nowak, she became only the second woman to date to notch the big prize.
On learning that Stachyra would be flying the flag for Poland in World All-Stars, Top Chef Polska presenter Ewa Wachowicz tweeted: “I am extremely proud that the winner of the 7th edition of Top Chef Polska was selected for the Top Chef World All-Stars out of all those from Eastern Europe, thus confirming the selection of our jury!”
“Fingers crossed,” added Wachowicz.
Subsequently becoming a mother and founding her own gastronomic firm, Cook She, Stachyra has used her raised profile to showcase her Asian-tweaked French cuisine in her capacity as a private chef whilst also acting as something of an ambassador for the cuisine and flavours of the Lubelskie region.
“I’m rediscovering regional cuisine and I love digging up old recipes, recreating flavours and returning to my childhood tastes,” she says.
Collaborating with tourist organisations and Polish embassies, she has since cooked Lublin specialities at events in the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.
As for her TV experience, Stachyra remains ever grateful. “I have to be honest,” she says, “I look back on Top Chef Polska as one of the best adventures of my life.”
Now, Lublin’s homegrown hero will be looking to forge even better memories on an even bigger stage.