Tomek Mossakowski is a baker and co-founder of The Dusty Knuckle Bakery School in East London, offering a range of artisan bread, pastry and cooking classes. The school is an extension of the Dusty Knuckle Bakery, the first bakery Tomek worked at, which is a social enterprise employing and training young offenders so that they can learn new skills, earn legitimately and live a fulfilling life.
Before Leiths, Tomek was an academic in the English department at King’s College London. “I was really unhappy in academia. On my own, thinking too much. I just felt really out of place in that environment. I really like being with people, in a team, chatting and laughing and unfortunately academia is mostly a solo game.”
“I love eating. That’s it. I don’t have a nostalgic origin story! No cooking with relatives and no food as salvation. I wanted a huge change in my life and food just seemed so honest. It’s also immediate: you make something, it’s either good or bad, you make it again. There’s something great about working in that kind of environment where what you do matters only in the present, and when you leave, you don’t have to keep thinking about it.”
“Leiths teaches you a certain way of moving and behaving in a kitchen. That is the best thing you’ll learn, even more than the amazing recipes and skills. It’s all about doing tasks efficiently and cleanly - and when I’ve worked with Leiths graduates since, you can just see they have picked up that way of holding themselves. Oh and my favourite memory: Ansobe (a former teacher) told us to never, ever smell our reduction. So naturally I smelt my reduction and I almost fainted. She had to catch me, mid-kitchen. Never, ever smell your reduction.”
Since 2019, Tomek has been running the Dusty Knuckle Bakery School in Dalston. “Running a bakery school brings something different everyday. Running classes, training other teachers, planning new material, recipe testing… it’s the most multi-faceted job I’ve ever had. But at the heart of it is teaching people how to make food, which these days, is the equivalent of a giant hug.”
“Go out and work extremely hard for a couple of years. It’ll be brutal, fun, exhausting and you’ll have to make a lot of sacrifices for it. Make peace with that and just go for it, it won’t be forever. Once you’ve learnt from the best, you can then start to think about yourself and your dreams.”