Eat This Now: Pierogi by Chef Ewa
Need some soul-soothing comfort food? Ewa Fraszczyk's pan-fried Polish dumplings are the real deal.
“Oh my god, it smells so good it’s driving me crazy!” my husband reported after picking up a pierogi order from chef Ewa Fraszczyk, who shares kitchen space with La Cocina VA, selling her pan-fried Polish dumplings from the nonprofit’s Columbia Pike café every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Arlington chef’s pierogi, all delicate and delicious, come six to an order ($10-$12) in four varieties—potatoes and Gruyere; sauerkraut and mushrooms; bacon and potato; and meat (a blend of ground chicken and ground beef)—with caramelized onions and pickled-cabbage-carrot slaw on the side.
Fraszczyk, 37, hails from Słupsk, Poland. She came to the U.S. 12 years ago and started working in restaurants, climbing the ranks from salad station to line cook and front-of-the-house management at various D.C. establishments. Laid off during the pandemic, she was called back in when restrictions eased—at which point the burnout she was already experiencing became more pronounced. “My love, it’s time for you to do something for yourself,” her boyfriend finally told her.
She enrolled in Escala, a six-week, multilingual entrepreneurship program provided by the nonprofit Northern Virginia Family Service, learning the nuts and bolts of opening a small business, including writing a business plan, obtaining the necessary certifications, getting licensed and creating a website.
Her first inclination was to offer fine-dining catering, but there didn’t seem to be a market for it, so she decided to cook what was close to her heart—the Polish food her mother had taught her how to make. She soon found an enthusiastic customer base at farmers markets in Maryland and D.C.
Pierogi Thursday by Chef Ewa at La Cocina VA launched in September at 918 S. Lincoln St. (the café entrance is on Columbia Pike). In addition to dumplings, her other specialties include barszcz (beet soup, $9) and golabki (stuffed cabbage, $13).
“I make pierogi every single day. I get up and I make 250, 400, whatever I can,” Fraszczyk says, apologizing for her repeated assertions about how happy she is as a one-woman operation. She makes her own dough (no packaged spring roll or wonton wrappers here) and everything else, too.