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Chef's Choice: Agnieszka Warzybok



Agnieszka Warzybok wants to be clear — she's not a chef.

Rather, she describes herself as "a Polish housewife."

That would be true, if making more than 6,000 homemade pierogies a month is par for the course for the average housewife in Poland.

That's how much Warzybok is making, who also works full-time, these days to keep up with the demand of her fledgling business — Whistler Pierogies.

In its first month in Whistler grocery stores, Warzybok sold 80 bags of pierogies. That was in January. Last month she sold more than 500.

And that's one of the reasons why the down-to-earth Warzybok can't stop smiling these days, her excitement and enthusiasm for her growing business spilling out in her simple story. In many ways, it seems as though she can't believe what's happened in 2013.

"The feedback is like a kick of adrenaline," she said of the positive support and thumbs up she's been getting from customers.

"It's absolutely mind-blowing."

Here's the secret about Whistler Pierogies: you can have a delicious, healthy dinner on the table in less than 10 minutes, a dinner that you don't need to coax into the mouths of kids mouthful by mouthful, and one that adults can enjoy too.

"I hope my pierogies are a happy marriage of something that is very quick and easy to prepare, very healthy, but also tastes good," she said.

It's her Grandma's recipe, modified just a little.

And while there is a perception that pierogies are a hearty, filling, fattening meal, Whistler Pierogies are made with a light and thin dough and there are no trans fats in the recipe.

Warzybok is committed to using the best quality ingredients. There are no artificial enhancers, the potatoes are from Pemberton, the onions are organic.

"I think the common understanding is for anything that is mass produced that people take shortcuts," she said. "I think that's the thing that I'm most proud of, that we were able to resist the temptation not to take any shortcuts."

But making pierogies from scratch is a time consuming process and while it's faster in the commercial kitchen, the Warzyboks are still spending weekends making their pierogies to meet the growing demand.

But that's where they want to be.

Little did Warzybok know when she immigrated to Canada eight years ago that she would be bringing her Grandma's pierogies into Whistler homes, and beyond.

In 2005, Warzybok really had no idea what the future held.

She had landed in Vancouver, from Krakov, with her husband Rafal and two young children, driven by the age-old quest for a better life for their kids.

They found that life in Whistler.

Determined to hold on to their Polish roots, the Warzyboks spoke Polish in their home and made Polish food. Important, she said, to remind their children where they come from.

Like in most Polish homes, pierogies were a staple in their household, in part because her son, who was suffering from food-related allergies, was able to tolerate the fresh, homemade, simple, food.

She began to make pierogies for friends and it became her dish at potluck dinners.

"As much as I served, they were all disappearing in a split second," she said.

And the seedlings of a potential business venture were planted.

The Warzyboks wanted to do it properly. First they had to meet all the regulatory and labeling requirements, design the bags, source out a commercial kitchen in Function Junction, get their hands on a commercial mixer.

Olives in Function Junction was the first store to carry their product.

It's been a whirlwind seven months since then with a future that is looking brighter by the day.

"I think my Grandma would be proud," said Warzybok with a shy smile.

There a two flavours currently: organic potato and cottage cheese with carmelized organic onion and organic potato and feta cheese with organic spinach — but the Warzyboks are aiming to develop more this fall.

To order online go to www.whistlerpierogies or find the bags at local grocery stores in the Sea to Sky corridor including Nesters, IGA and Olives.

Baked Pierogies with Truffle Oil


Baking pierogies will make them crisp on the outside and puffy on the inside. Easy and delicious!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Place frozen pierogies on a baking sheet

Coat them lightly both sides in olive oil and sprinkle over with fresh thyme

Bake for at about 18 minutes or until they are browned and puffy, turning halfway through the baking time

If you are using boiled pierogies bake for half the time.

Top with truffle olive oil and grated parmesan cheese.

Serve immediately, Enjoy!