Interview with Lukáš Paluska, the chef at hotel Carlsbad Plaza
Lukáš Paluska is in command of the restaurants and bars in the five-star Carlsbad Plaza hotel. He does not distinguish among French, Czech or European cuisine, but between good and bad dishes. He is not a collector of "cook bibles", which he opens when preparing a new menu, but is also a knight and advisor on French gastronomy and a culinary artist. He finds inspiration for fabulous menus everywhere. "One must have his eyes wide open". You may get good inspiration from mum at home, from mums of friends, on holiday and when visiting Michelin restaurants."
Do you remember the beginning of your cooking career?
"I was tied to my grandmother's apron strings as a child and my grandmother was a cook at Labská bouda. After finishing school, and after discussion with my parents, I filed an application to a newly opened private apprentice centre and wished to become a cook and waiter. And thus my "dumpling" career began. I do not remember my first successful recipe, but it must have been in my grandmother's kitchen with whom I baked excellent fruit cakes and other sweets. Even now, when I close my eyes, I see it and smell the kitchen again."
Which important hotels did you cook in?
"I started my practical training in the four-star Jalta hotel in Wenceslas Square. After finishing school, I went to Savoy at the Prague Castle. A few months later I got an offer to become a member of a team opening the Mövenpick hotel in Prague. Then I received a phone call from a former colleague at the Jalta hotel who became the chef at Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary, and he offered me a job. I refused the offer first, but after visiting Karlovy Vary for a weekend, I decided to accept. I started to work for Grandhotel Pupp as a butcher and in the position of manager of the banquet department, I was promoted to the post of sous-chef. Then I took part in an open competition for the position of Executive Chef at Carlsbad Plaza..."
Have you had an opportunity to see other countries?
"In 1997 I took part in the gastronomic competition Sopexa in France where I was placed second. I was honoured to become the Knight and Advisor on French Gastronomy. During the ceremony, I knelt down and they knight me with a real sword. Then I took an educational stay in France, in the cradle of world gastronomy. My best experience probably was the visit to the kitchen of the Ritz hotel in Paris. The kitchen at the Ritz hotel is gorgeous, both in its design and for delicacies which are made there. I also gained experience as a member of the National Team of cooks of the Czech Republic with whom I represented my country in several international competitions."
How much are you creative and to what extent you try to accommodate to the taste of your guests?
"I mainly endeavour to offer my guests the meals I love. And in such a manner I prepare a new menu with my colleagues. We talk about the meals we will replace by other meals. Such discussions are never ending. I usually let my cooks realize their ideas, I am not used to order someone to do something. If a cook has its share in a meal, he will cook it better, with love. A meal is a work of art which must have its spirit."
And at the end let me wish you "Bon appetit!"
Lukáš Paluska and his team