Three Polish women come together through a shared passion to bring authentic Polish cuisine to Austin, but end up bringing so much more.
The founding members of Apolonia Catering—Asia Gonczar, Izabela Ulrich and Margie Knap — have culinary experience spanning from Poland, Germany, Canada and the United States giving their cuisine a European foundation with a blend of cultural nuance.
Sharing their cuisine with others connects the women to their culinary roots in Poland, where delightful foods define good living and family life. From their signature cake, the Pavlova, to distinctive Polish dishes like Pierogi; Asia, Izabela and Margie seek to serve excellent, authentic food, not only from their motherland but also with a fusion of global flavor, bringing beauty and distinctive simplicity to each dish.
Asia has always been fascinated with food and had her first memorable culinary experiences at twelve. She made her first pierogi and pickles when her parents were at work, as she helped to take care of her younger siblings. She believes that sometimes it’s not formal training that sets apart a chef, but constant improvement and trying to create better artistry in one’s food.
“It is love of the trade that makes one exceptional, “ says Asia. Food and the art of food has become her calling. “My education background is in IT and computers. I was very successful in the corporate world. However, this did not bring the spark in life that I hoped for. I discovered that doing what you love is a much more fulfilling way of life than just grinding through a career path.”
“When I came to the U.S., I wanted to follow my dream, my path, my calling. I needed inspiration, which I got from family and friends who experienced my cuisine,” she remembers. “Then I met Izabela. She was exceptional at baking, and we clicked. I saw a fellow cuisine sojourner looking for a way to express her talent while juggling a busy family and career life.”
Izabela wasn’t born with talent in the kitchen, but what brought her to the culinary world was the lack of quality European-style baked goods in the Austin market. That drove her to the kitchen to explore baking, down to the raw products that could yield the quality found in authentic Eastern European cuisine. “It was like coming back to my roots, for food is the cornerstone of a good life,” she says.
“The U.S. has so many options the supermarket that the public is inundated with all sorts of tastes that are not distinctive in nature. We wanted to bring simple, distinctive cuisine with an authentic edge to the Austin market,” says Izabela. “What sets us apart is not only the quality of the raw products we carefully choose to bring forth in our culinary artistry, but the pride and joy we put into our food. We’re not only very mindful about our dishes, but also the way we present and arrange them for our clients. It comes from our core belief that food is not just nourishment but a delightful experience that, when made in a wholesome and delicious way, etches memories that last a lifetime.”
Asia and Izabela once thought, “It takes two to tango,” as the original saying goes, but soon found that they needed a third person to make their business complete. They wanted someone with an artistic edge and a business mind to join their team. Marzena is all that and more. She has traveled the world over, and she brings a very unique perspective to Apolonia’s menu offerings with a rich mix of gastronomic influences from around the world. Thanks to her insights, the company is experimenting with new fusions of tastes that will enrich their menu. Together, the three women of Apolonia Catering make the complete package of culinary artistry, attention to quality, eclectic tastes, and business acumen.
Austin has been enthusiastic about Apolonia. Just Google, ‘best Pavlova or Pierogi in Austin’, and you’ll see they are usually first and second in the results. You can find testimonials and comments from happy clients who have discovered that what the company brings to the market is not only superb in quality and uniqueness, but also a long overdue in offering the true brilliance of Austin gastronomy.
A recent testimonial bears this out: “We hired Apolonia Catering for my parents wedding anniversary. We wanted to do something special for my mother. Since she is Polish, we were thrilled to find Apolonia. The crew of two arrived on time. They promptly got started setting things up. These gals were super friendly, too! They put on a great looking spread. The Pierogi were amazing! As good as or better than my babci (grandma). Everything they served was delicious. And to top it off, the Pavlova. OMG, I can’t describe how fantastic the presentation was or how amazing it tasted. If you need an event catered and want quality, homemade food (with love), I strongly recommend Apolonia Catering.”
Asia, Isabela and Marzena envision Apolonia evolving into a restaurant someday. “The key ingredient to our success has been the consistency in quality, ingredients and preparation. The restaurant concept must bear out these core values,” say the women. “Catering will remain the heart of our business. The restaurant model that we are looking at takes advantage of the growth potential in Austin and allows us to present our offerings in at a physical address. Austinites love outdoors and being out and about as well as dining in restaurants, so it makes sense to explore this option as the next logical step.”
They say the restaurant will have themed approach, specializing in authentic Pierogi. “We are Austinites at heart and this reflects in our business. We would like to add local flavors to our cuisine, so we are trying different fillings in the Pierogis to match Texas tastes, like sweet potato with chipotle peppers.”
The women of Apolonia Catering have big plans for the future. They are proud of what they’ve achieved but don’t intend to be stagnate. Culinary creativity brought them together, and they intend to keep dancing their unique tango to further successes.