'Love is a great seasoning': Chicago-shot 'The Polish Cooking Show' premieres Saturday on WTTW

  • In the first episode of "The Polish Cooking Show," hosts Natalie Rokita, right, and her mother-in-law, Ala Rokita, will be cooking up golabki.

    In the first episode of "The Polish Cooking Show," hosts Natalie Rokita, right, and her mother-in-law, Ala Rokita, will be cooking up golabki. Courtesy of WTTW

 
 
Posted11/16/2021 6:00 AM

Food and comfort go hand in hand in many cultures around the world. But Poland has contributed so much in this vein, especially in the Chicago area, which boasts a large Polish-American demographic, that we may not realize we're enjoying a Polish tradition when we're eating it.

Where would we be without pierogi, stuffed cabbage rolls and potato pancakes? And what would Fat Tuesday be without the decadent Paczki? But there is so much more to Polish foods, and Love and Light Productions LLC is bringing Polish-Americans' food, culture and traditions to WTTW with "The Polish Cooking Show" -- premiering this weekend.

 

"The Polish culture is filled with beauty and wonder," says show producer and longtime Woodstock resident Rikki Lee Travolta. He says the show is "sure to delight, not just Polish people but everyone interested in other cultures, history and recipes. 'The Polish Cooking Show' brings the splendor of Polish cooking and culture into the comfort of your home."

One tradition brought with the several waves of Polish immigrants to Chicago is that when a young man gets married, his mother takes her new daughter-in-law under her wing and teaches her the family recipes and the cultural stories that go with them. Which is exactly what this new series is: One-part cooking show and one part history and cultural experience.

Newlywed Natalie Rokita, right, and her mother-in-law Ala Rokita host the "The Polish Cooking Show," premiering this weekend on WTTW.
Newlywed Natalie Rokita, right, and her mother-in-law Ala Rokita host the "The Polish Cooking Show," premiering this weekend on WTTW. - Courtesy of WTTW

The hosts are real-life newlywed Natalie Rokita, nee Czupta, and her mother-in-law Ala Rokita, affectionately referred to as Mama Ala. Together, they demonstrate delicious family recipes with easy-to-follow instructions while sharing fun and educational tidbits about Polish culture.

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"We found our wonderful hosts. They genuinely love each other, and that reads through," Travolta says. "And love is a great seasoning."

For the first episode, Mama Ala will be showing how to make her easy golabki, which translates to little pigeons, or stuffed cabbage rolls. It's a popular dish in Germany, Russia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Tune in to see how the Polish cooks put their spin on this classic.

"The Polish Cooking Show" premieres at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, and will be shown again at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 21, on WTTW. For details, visit www.ThePolishCookingShow.com.

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