Zuza Zak describes herself as a 'storyteller cook'. Her interest
lies in the culture and history of food and she uses storytelling
as a medium for delving into another cuisine and through its food
and recipes, into another culture. Her debut cookbook Polska:
New Polish Cooking achieved much success - published in six
countries, it sold out after being chosen as one of the best
cookbooks of 2016 on BBC Radio 4's The Food Programme.
The Independent newspaper described Polska as
"capturing the spirit of a nation". Zuza was born in Communist
Poland in 1979 and came to the UK when she was 18. She worked in TV
in the UK for 8 years and has started a supper club, A Slavic
Since publishing her book, Zuza has had regular appearances on Polish TV and radio and in the UK and the rest of Europe you can see her on Food Network Finds: Poland. She is also currently in talks with a UK production company about a food and culture related TV show, as well as running her regular supper clubs and events in the UK and Poland.
In October 2019, Zuza is starting a food-focussed PhD at the prestigious School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL, where she will continue exploring East European food from a socio-cultural perspective, through the lens of a cultural anthropologist.
"It is such a joy to finally see a cookbook on beautiful Baltic cuisine, done with so much sensitivity and respect by Zuza Zak, one of my favourite authors. It is making me pine to travel to the region more than ever. Before I can do that, I will enjoy reading and cooking from this wonderful book." Olia Hercules, Summer Kitchen, Mamushka,
'Zuza Zak deftly steers us from place to plate though the Baltic trisect of countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in her illuminating Amber & Rye, a cookbook brimming with approachable recipes and mouth-watering photographs.' Caroline Eden
Zuza Zak is truly the best ambassador for Eastern European culture and cuisine. This book is full of reach-in-and-grab photographs of both food on plates, but also recognisable ingredients full of nostalgia and toska (still yet to find the word for this in English!)
There's a sense of abundance and generosity in Zuza's writing, her storytelling and in the food itself. This book is as much a traveller's guide as it is a cook's compendium of Baltic cuisine. - Alice Zaslavsky, author of In Praise of Veg
'Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, Zuza Zak's new book offers a warmly personal insight into a vibrant cuisine of the little-know region of the Baltic states. Zuza's passion for the history, the folklore and the cuisine, shines through making Amber & Rye more than just a recipe book. It is a beautiful portrait of the region - its landscape, its history, its people and of course its food. Ranging from familiar Soviet-era classics to unique regional and modern gems, the recipes are versatile, exciting, inviting and full of flavour. This book is a real highlight within the culinary travelogue genre!' Alissa Timoshkina, author of Salt and Time:
Zuza has an enchanting way with recipe names and her flavour combinations are irresistible. Chanterelles & blueberries, Fermented beetroot elixir, Kaja's 'sour milk lady' with berries, Kama yoghurt with plum butter. This is food to fit with for the fairytale landscapes the book describes. Eleanor Ford, author of Fire Islands
"A 'food Renaissance' is happening in Eastern Europe, where new energy is making local traditions come alive ... In Amber & Rye: A Baltic Food Journey, Zak takes readers on a mouthwatering culinary journey through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Breaking down the invisible barriers that often stifle mass knowledge about Baltic cuisine, Zak invites readers into her world-one filled with familial history, ancestral discoveries and enticing recipes ... Amber & Rye brings this Baltic journey to life for readers, who are taken on edible and visual trips across some of Eastern Europe's most storied capitals, cultures and cuisines."
- Kayla Stewart, Salon magazine