Some people think that dieting can’t be fun. Our Chef Patron Michal Snela is not one of them! Michal has devoted his life to designing dishes that disprove the commonly held assumption that healthy food can’t be delicious and that diets can’t be exciting. His commitment to this challenge is evident in every dish that he conceives, always seeking to maximise taste and nutritional value, hand-in-hand. This is his life challenge.
Michal’s philosophy dates back to his formative training upon arriving in the UK as a teenager. Working his way up to the position of chef at a two AA Rosette-awarded pub restaurant in the British countryside, Michal was taught to cook using only the freshest ingredients from the pub’s own farm. Here he would pick his own vegetables and freshly laid eggs, just outside the kitchen. An experience he nostalgically describes as “every chef’s dream”.
After an intense and eye-opening spell at a Michelin 3-star restaurant, in the highly ruthless and competitive world of high-end fine dining, Michal was snapped up by the prestigious, award-winning restaurant, Chez Bruce. Here he would combine his experience in both traditional home cooking and modern fine dining; a new environment that would prove to be the perfect balance for him. A place in which he would thrive and grow, rapidly progressing to the position of sous-chef, driven by a passion to learn and improve, and consistently produce beautiful plates of food. In his own words, “Chez Bruce made me the chef I am today!”
Whilst cooking at the Michelin-starred Chez Bruce, Michal took his commitment to fresh ingredients even further by incorporating a seasonal approach to his cooking; learning how to follow the seasons when it comes to ingredients and dishes. Seeing the colours in the kitchen change through the year, he became even more passionate about the new produce coming through; particularly new arrivals at the beginning of each season. Fresh, quality ingredients would remain central to Michal’s cooking approach. Simplicity too. As he recalls from his training, “It’s all about the quality of the product. Beautiful produce speaks for itself. That’s what they always taught us.” With more hands-on experience, learning to work with ingredients of the highest quality, this belief only grew stronger. “Less is more sometimes…. Like a simple piece of grilled fish.”
Out of this passion for the process came his passion to lead in the kitchen. The level of responsibility involved in preparing fish at precise times and temperatures as well as dressing plates with creative flare and careful attention, in a fine-dining environment, often meant running the whole service in a given night. As sous-chef of Chez Bruce, with the high expectations involved in cooking and running the sauce section, Michal was driven by his desire not only to maintain the highest quality of ingredients, preparation, and presentation but also to innovate at every turn. To always be creative with the new ingredients that circulated through the seasons and never stop pushing himself to come out with “something new, something interesting, something fresh”. This experimental edge to his creative approach has not left him. In fact, it has become a major driving force behind the style and ethos of his cooking.
His passion for travelling has only enhanced the instinct to try new things. Though classically trained in French cuisine, Michal expanded on his craft during his time abroad; adding new twists to his style. The cuisines and cultures of Southern Europe and East Asia would prove to have a lasting impact on his approach to cooking. His visits to the Mediterranean instilling an even deeper understanding and appreciation of fish and seafood, and his time in South Korea broadening his horizons to the eclectic range of flavour combinations and seasonings that can be used in any given meal. Discovering, first-hand, the use of dried and aged foods as a seasoning alternative to salt was a particular revelation for him.
Love Yourself grew out of this hunger to experiment and innovate, in order to meet one simple challenge… Make dieting fun! Whether it’s exploring new flavours or recreating dishes we all know and love, Michal is driven by the belief that people should be able to eat their favourite meals as part of a calorie-controlled diet. The desire to show people that healthy food can be delicious. That we can still look forward to lunchtime when managing our weight. That to love food is to love yourself.