Food has always played a role in my life. I remember being six or seven years old and helping my grandma cook, chopping onions for the pierogis. Of course, I love pierogis. I’m Polish, and food is a big part of Eastern European culture. Depending on who you ask in the eastern European world, nobody really agrees who came up with pierogis. But I say every culture on earth has taken one thing, stuffed it into some dough, and cooked it. So, in my eyes, technically nobody came up with pierogis. But cooking with grandma, that is where my love of food started. Even Christmas! Forget about the gifts – it was all about the twelve different meals that we were going to make that day that we didn’t get to try on any other day.
To be honest, I think every culture is all about food because food brings family together.
Over my lifetime I’ve come to the understanding that life is all about people’s subjective experiences. Our memories are what shape us into who we are, how we behave, and how others perceive us.
My parents used to breed German boxers. The last litter before my parents stopped had eight puppies. I was in grade seven or eight around this time. One of my happiest memories is when my mom would open my bedroom door in the mornings to wake me up for school, and all eight of these cute boxer puppies would jump up on my bed and lick my face. There are really few moments in life where you can just say ‘this is pure joy.’ There is no price you have to pay; it’s not muddled with anything. Those puppy-filled mornings were one of those moments. That memory always gives me such comfort in my life. I often say that the best kind of people are dogs.
If you’d asked me when I was in my twenties what I wanted for myself I would have said that I’m going to be a world-famous chef and there will be books written about me – and maybe that’s still there in the back of my head a little bit. But those kinds of thoughts have become less valuable to me as I've aged. My ego has gone down, and at this point, I'm just concerned with bettering the lives of my family and the people around me. It’s one of the reasons I went into Sheridan’s Architecture program; I feel like I can help shape the world and make it better.
I think human connection is so important, from familial love to romantic love. Now love is what I value. I believe love can save the world.
(Interviewed and written by Hazel Mekkattukulam; photo by Nolan Brinson)