We had the good fortune of connecting with Krem Miskevich and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Krem, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
For the first decade of my career as a cook, I would spend anywhere from 10 to 14 hours a day in the kitchen. When I was a line cook, I would always come in earlier than my schedule called for–30 minutes early, an hour, sometimes even many hours earlier than necessary, and took very few days off. It depended on the job and if I was single or not, but I love to work in general and I love to work in the kitchen particularly, so I thought that was just what my life would be like; overworking, staying late, leaving last, and going out drinking after. It’s a story that a lot of cooks have lived.

Then the pandemic hit, my restaurant turned into a grocery store, I had a bunch of savings in my account, and decided to start my own little project–Good Pierogi–and pivot to more private cooking gigs. Ever since then, since I became my own boss, I don’t feel the need to spend as much time working. I am decompressing from all these years of sweat (and joy!) shed for someone else’s business. I am very lucky to be able to support myself by throwing pop-ups when I want to, selling pierogi, and landing the occasional private chef gig. This past year I’ve worked the least hours ever in my history of employment. In the beginning I was very self-conscious, nervous, felt like I was doing something wrong. Now I can enjoy it, and am gathering energy for expanding Good Pierogi, which will require consistent – but balanced! – care and work.

What should our readers know about your business?
Oh, this is going to be hard – I am not very good at self-promotion! Good Pierogi is (for now) a small Polish food pop up. The decision to make it happen was an impulse, in July 2020 – the middle of the pandemic. There are no good Polish restaurants in Los Angeles, and there are no good Polish dumplings available either. In covid times, when there was no dining whatsoever, an idea to sell packages of frozen pierogi seemed golden. I set up a simple kitchen in an extra room of the house I was living in at the time, and put out 50 bags of a dozen pierogi each for sale, without too much advertising prior. It didn’t take too long to sell. I did a few runs like this, and then pivoted to making pierogi as well as other Polish dishes at pop ups when outdoor dining became doable again. I don’t think there’s anything better than a fresh, made-to-order pieróg. What makes mine different is the precision every single one is made with. I apply everything I’ve learned throughout my career to my product, and, though it is definitely not fussy food, it is way more complex than the typical frozen dough-and-potato product that people in this country have had access to. Ultimately, I want people to eat well and have fun with me. I am going to continue doing pop ups over the summer, but in the fall I will focus on turning Good Pierogi into CPG. Hopefully, somewhere between the end of the first and second quarter of 2023, my product will be sold in at least one grocery chain in SoCal.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
To me, LA is for food and nothing else really. Sorry not sorry. I would take them to Tire Shop Taqueria for carne asada tacos, Monte Alban for Oaxacan food, burritos las palma. China Islam Restaurant for hand pulled noodles with cumin lamb. Kismet, because the food is delicious and I used to work there. Little Ethiopia for some injera and spicy beef. I would buy some seafood from Luxe or Mayday and make a tower. The Goldline bar for good music every night with an icy penicillin. Quartersheets pizza for pierogi pie and a slice of cake. Pasadena/Alta Dena for a hike. I would also take them to In-n-Out, because I only eat burgers protein-style, and unfortunately no one else makes that well (if any burger joint owner is reading this, please prove me wrong). I think that’s it, the rest of the time we’d be sitting in traffic.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate this Shoutout to Courtney Storer, who hired me at my first job in the United States–Jon & Vinny’s–and has been my guardian angel ever since

Website: www.goodpierogi.com

Instagram: instagram.com/good_pierogi

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