We had the good fortune of connecting with Peter Petrzala and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Peter, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I’ve always enjoyed cooking, and am always giving myself passion projects to keep me busy. While most people have told me I should not be afraid to take breaks, I just keep going. Before Who Noms the World, I self-published a cookbook, and before that, it was just a snowball of learning and trying new recipes. When I finished my cookbook over three years ago, I took about a month to think what I wanted to do next. I knew I wanted my next project to involve cooking in some way. Cooking Slovak dishes for my cookbook inspired me to continue the trend of digging into the roots of other cultures. I knew I wanted to open not only my eyes, but everyone’s eyes to what foods are out there from cultures other than our own. The most important thing for me was to actually be inspired by people from the respective countries I cook from. I wanted to show care and respect to the dishes I cook. I didn’t want to be another chef that white-washes recipes. I try my absolute best not to fall into the appropriation category. I struggle sometimes knowing where exactly that line is. I don’t want to cross it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Interestingly enough, I’ve always been in a creative field. I’ve always done something in my life that dealt with art in some way. Growing up, I didn’t ask for candy at the grocery store. I didn’t care about that at all. What I wanted were coloring books, every time. That inspired me to start drawing. I moved on from stick figures, to actually drawing full-fledged characters. From there, I started to think about my career and future. How could I incorporate my creative side into my job. In high school, I joined the newspaper staff where I learned Photoshop. That snowballed into knowing immediately what I wanted to do with my life. I took on several internships throughout college. I designed marketing materials for different student organizations. I built up a portfolio and got my first job after college working at an ad agency. Now, I am a product designer for a healthcare start up. Somewhere throughout that process, I got really into cooking because it was yet another way to be creative. I absolutely love plating and making food look beautiful. Of course, I also love eating food too. Well, I had to document those foods too. I didn’t just make food and not share it with anyone. I created and photographed my food. Over the years, I got better and better at my craft. Because of that growth, I’ve been able to gain a following for my blog, as well as work with clients specifically for my skill in food photography. It’s been really great. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned though is to show care and respect for each dish I make. How different ingredients work together, both in flavor and in photos. The more one cooks and experiments, the better they get at knowing. Finally, the one thing I want people to know about my brand and story, is that I absolutely do my best to show care and respect for each culture, each dish I attempt to replicate. The beauty of food is that it really does bring people together. I learned that throughout the years because I love dinner parties and sharing food with others. I also love to talk about food and hear others’ journeys about the food they create as well. Each dish in the culinary world has an incredible, yet complex history.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First and foremost, they know they are in for a great meal at my house. I love hosting dinner parties, and of course sharing food. But living in Atlanta, there’s no way we could just spend their entire trip inside. Places to eat is a little tricky because of course it varies person to person per their taste. If you want the best fried chicken, for me it’s Revival in Decatur by Chef Kevin Gillespie. That first bite I had was incredible. Desta for Ethiopian food. South City Kitchen for southern food, especially their fried green tomatoes. Any restaurant on Buford Highway, but definitely Mamak is one of my all-time favorites. E-Ramen for, you guessed it, ramen. Sotto Sotto or Bocca Lupo for the best pasta dishes. And lastly, Aziza for the best Israeli restaurant I’ve ever been to – you absolutely have to try the octopus! Atlanta has an abundance of restaurants, but considering Atlanta is FILLED with greenery, trees, and outdoor things to do, first and foremost, we’d spend a few hours in Piedmont Park, whether it be walking around or having a picnic. We’d also take a day trip out to Helen, GA for some hiking and fun German environments. Helen is 2 hours away, so it’s not the closest, but there are other places to hike as well, such as Stone Mountain, not even an hour away! For cocktails, once again, the skies the limit, but some favorites are Ticonderoga Club, SOS Tiki Bar, Cold Beer, and Kimball House. Finally, the beltline is incredibly fun to just walk on. There are also plenty of restaurants and breweries along the beltline, New Realm Brewing being the first that comes to mind!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to thank my mom first for the chapter of my journey where I wrote a cookbook. She had a lot of handwritten recipes that i was able to translate and utilize for publishing my cookbook. But with Who Noms the World, first and foremost I have to thank my partner, Justin. He has shown so much support. He is my taste tester–I don’t think he complains about that. He helps push me to think outside the box. He talks about my cooking to his friends and coworkers and urges them to follow my Instagram (hah, my personal marketing expert). He trusts me, and is my cheerleader. He pushes me to pursue my goals and passions, and to not give up on them. For that I am eternally grateful. And lastly, I absolutely have to thank the people who have followed me on this journey over the last few years. Those who have suggested dishes, those who have reached out to me, those who have sent their own recipes, those who comment on my blog or Instagram. I’m just so grateful for how many people have supported this journey.
Who Noms the World | Peter Petrzala