Lemon Pepper Pierogi Are On the Menu at This Polish Food Pop-Up

“I’ve been cooking Polish meals my complete lifestyles on account of my mother. My mother’s circle of relatives is Polish,” says Matt Reeves, who lately introduced Polish meals pop-up Brave Wojtek. “That is the meals I grew up with, however I’ve observed little or no, if any, true Polish and Jap Eu delicacies at eating places in Atlanta. For this type of giant meals town, why is that this meals now not right here?”

Reeves named the pop-up after a International Battle II Polish folks hero, a Syrian brown bear called Wojtek, who was once orphaned as a cub and located by means of the twenty second Artillery Provide Corporate whilst stationed within the Soviet Union. The unit followed Wojtek as its mascot and traveled with the warriors during Italy and the Heart East. Wojtek turned into the most important member of the outfit, retaining spirits lifted together with his antics and penchant for snacking. He even bought a style for cigarettes and accomplished the rank of corporal, in the end serving to to hold shells to vehicles alongside the struggle traces. Following the warfare, squaddies from the twenty second Artillery persevered to consult with Wojtek on the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, the place he remained till his dying in 1963.

In Courageous Wojtek, Reeves says, he’s reconnecting to his Polish heritage and the rustic’s historical past via meals.

Atlanta pop-up Brave Wojtek recreates a version of Zapiekanka, a popular street food, Zapiekanka is type of French bread pizza typically topped with mushrooms, ham, and melted cheese and drizzled with ketchup.
A well-liked boulevard meals, Zapiekanka resembles French bread pizza and is in most cases crowned with mushrooms, ham, and melted cheese and drizzled with ketchup.
Courageous Wojtek

Reeves has labored for various Atlanta eating places, together with as normal supervisor for One Eared Stag and stints at Salt Manufacturing facility and Little Alley Steak, owned by means of Hicham Azhari and Fikret Kovac of F&H Meals Buying and selling Team. Azhari hails from Morocco, whilst Kovac was once born and raised in Bosnia. Reeves himself is a transplant to Atlanta, having grown up in San Francisco.

It was once operating for Azhari and Kovac when Reeves first discovered the loss of Jap Eu eating places in Atlanta.

“Throughout COVID, when issues have been dicey for everybody, I started enthusiastic about what I’m going to do subsequent in eating places not to to find myself within the place I used to be in the place I needed to lay off 25 folks,” he says of founding Courageous Wojtek. “It was once a difficult time, and I used to be strapped and had to alternate one thing.”

Reeves isn’t any stranger to Atlanta’s pop-up scene. He pitches in all the way through carrier at pop-ups like TKO Korean and Seoul Chikin in addition to at Dead End Drinks, which lately rebranded from Ration and Dram and shifted to running as a pop-up kitchen. Reeves hosted his first Courageous Wojtek pop-up at Useless Finish Beverages in October. He’s again there once more on November 30.

“The pop-up neighborhood in Atlanta, it’s nearly like a co-op and it’s employee orientated,” he says. “In the future I would possibly paintings for Fu-Mao [Sun] of Mighty Hans on Saturday mornings. Me and two different pop-up guys will lend a hand run carrier. It’s then reciprocated.”

Whilst most of the people affiliate Polish meals with dishes like pierogi, Reeves says there’s extra to the rustic’s delicacies than the doughy dumplings, together with one among his favourite one-pot foods: bigos. Steadily known as the Polish hunter’s stew, bigos in most cases is composed of kielbasa, sauerkraut, and recreation meats like venison or boar. For his bigos, Reeves opts for fattier cuts of meat, the use of red meat or pork shoulder to offer that wealthy taste. Then there’s gołąbki, filled cabbage rolls stuffed with mince red meat and rice, the beetroot and bean bitter soup barszcz or borscht, and zapiekanka, a well-liked Polish boulevard meals very similar to French bread pizza in most cases crowned with mushrooms, ham, and melted cheese and drizzled with ketchup.

“A large number of what I’m cooking at this time you possibly can imagine homestyle or convenience meals,” he says. “Those are meals discovered at each Polish family, and each and every circle of relatives has their very own take at the dishes.”

Reeves contains pierogi with conventional fillings at the menu, along a decidedly Atlanta take, stuffing the Polish dumpling with lemon pepper rainy rooster.

Borscht.
Barszcz often referred to as borscht.
Courageous Wojtek

Shifting ahead, Reeves hopes to proceed including different Jap Eu dishes to the Courageous Wojtek menu from nations like Ukraine and Russia. The November 30 pop-up may also function a couple of “semi-kosher” meals for the ones celebrating Hanukkah, which begins at sunset on November 28.

“I used to be chatting with folks main as much as my first pop-up who stated that they had by no means attempted those meals ahead of,” says Reeves. “I didn’t be expecting to peer such a lot of folks, and such a lot of folks of Jap Eu heritage, pop out that night time. It blew my thoughts and instructed me those meals are lacking right here and do wish to be a part of the bigger Atlanta scene.”

Apply Courageous Wojtek on Instagram for pop-up dates and menu drops. The following pop-up takes position at Useless Finish Beverages, November 30, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and is first come, first served.