Sabina Francuz

Sabina Francuz graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, where she studied at the Faculty of Industrial Design. For several years was dealing with applied graphics design. In 2011, she founded the “Głodne Kawałki” (“Hungry Bites”) bistro – a spontaneous and “punk” initiative, where Sabina designs experiences related to food.
During the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow’s Kazimierz, she was for some time the chef at the Cheder cafe. She organised culinary workshops, Saturday breakfasts and Sabbath dinners, and founded #NotSoKosher – a culinary cultural group.
Sabina’s professional life changed radically when she came across the famous “Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook”. It was published in 1938 by Fania Lewando – the owner of the cult Jewish vegetarian restaurant in pre-war Vilnius, visited even by Marc Chagall. Four hundred vegetarian recipes of mainly Jewish (but not only) dishes were a hit in America. Since 2016, Sabina has been promoting this healthy diet in Poland, following in the footsteps of Fania Lewando and her incentive to make the world better, in accordance with the Judaic principle of Tikkun Olam. All of this became the inspiration for the Mecyje project. Every month, Sabina meets, recreates and reinterprets Lewando’s recipes with her friends-enthusiasts of Jewish cuisine and culture: cymes, latkes, cholent, kugel, unique challah and many others. It is not easy, because Fania’s recipes are devoid of details that we are used to today. In the American edition of the cookbook, the cheesecake recipe was even labelled undoable! The Mecyje collective therefore means experimenting, exercising culinary imagination, and above all, travelling back in time to the world of pre-war Vilnius Jews, and giving it a new life in Krakow, in Poland of the 21st century.
Her culinary passion – including the dissemination of original ideas of Fania Lewando – Sabina also realises in cooperation with the Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN. One of her most interesting projects was “The Table Is Set”, a part of the TISZ Jewish Food Festival in 2019. The participants traversed the Muranów district of Warsaw along the route of “set tables” at seven non-existent houses – places inspired with seven Jewish holidays. In these interactive installations, cooking, talking at the table, and jointly celebrating Jewish and Polish culinary traditions took place. Also in cooperation with POLIN, original cooking workshops “Sabbath suppers” were organised. It was possible thanks to an invitation by Magda Maślak, who runs the Menorah Info Point dedicated to providing information about the Jewish Warsaw. As Sabina emphasises, Magda has had big impact upon her professional activity.

Sabina Francuz regularly participates in various other festivals, cultural and culinary events, including the Krakow Festival of Bread. This is her way of dialoguing and building bridges between Polish and Jewish cultures.

Lewando’s Jewish recipes