Here is my story(Interview with Augustman Magazin for lifestyle)
1. Why spearfishing? Do you have any particular intention?
The passion for Fishing started in my younger years already in Poland with my grandfather where he took me fishing in the lakes with rod and reel – which I’m not gonna lie I found really boring.
But the fact that you are catching your own food always amazed me and the taste of my grandma’s kitchen. It was always a lot of hard work to catch – kill – clean – cook, it demands skills and knowledge of what to do with it, or what to actually cook – how would it taste the best way.
In the end, the whole effort would make the dishes so much more enjoyable because of the procedure of actually getting it on the table.
That’s what also inspired me to become a Chef. Good food and the way of the procedure where a raw product comes into your hands and you create something, where people can enjoy it with you and it creates bonds between people.
Food connects us, we go out and enjoy dinners for special occasions, we go out on a date to enjoy food because good food makes us happy.
When I first had the chance to see the inside of a kitchen while being a dishwasher it inspired me straight away, the teamwork, passion in everyone and fire to do the best for their customers to enjoy their night out.
I applied for an Apprenticeship at Karlheinz Hause Suellberg in Hamburg in 2009. But before that, I’ve done culinary school for 4 years where you learn the basics of work – life.
As most chefs, I have been a bartender, waiter until i decided to 100% start my chefing career.
In the 3 years of my apprenticeship, we learn a lot in Germany because the standards of the kitchens are really high, and the education is focused mostly on work ethic, there is not much sitting around in the classroom, you learn everything in reality which puts you into unwanted situations and high-pressure work from a young age… people who went to the army and became chefs say that being a Chef is harder mentally and sometimes physically than the normal army routine, of course, we are talking about high – end hospitality.
That education allowed me in my adult life to be comfortable in any given situation because people make problems out of the smallest things, which are not really a biggy and there is always a super easy solution.
Finishing my Apprentice being 20 years old, I’ve applied for a job in the best steak house in Hamburg “River – Grill” Which is closed now but used to be a meat and fish hotspot.
We kept getting the finest and freshest fish and meat from around the world and it always inspired me that the fresher the product the better the dishes we were creating and response of the customers.
But obviously its hard to get super fresh Mahi Mahi in Germany and not very ecological so we focused on local produce and fish from around Germany.
I’ve worked there for a year.
But something inside me told me that working from the age of 14 – 20 (6 years of my young life) to make money and sustain myself
(We didn’t have it easy in life with my mom due to certain events, so I’ve learned to make my own decision and stand on my legs very quickly)
With 20 I asked myself if I want to be stuck in the walls of a kitchen and never see outside or discover the world, there was thoughts of going on a cruise ship, but hearing from a lot of guys that on cruise ships they mostly work 15-20h per day, I could keep doing the same while still being home.
So the decision was made very quickly, my best mate and I quit our job and bought tickets to Australia – Melbourne, the funniest part was that each of us only had 500$ in our pockets(haha after paying the hostel we had only 250 left in the first week)
As we went into Australia with the Mindset of not working as chefs, but try something different we kinda changed our decision really quick in two days.
Everyone is looking for chefs, and with our level of education in the kitchen, we are on a high demand in Australia.
I’ve got a job in a small coffee shop in Melbourne in the kitchen which I loved because it was different only 9h per day, so I could still go to the gym and have a normal life and socialize.
The decision was made that we will only stay few months in Melbourne and we really wanted to work on the Formula Grand Prix for the event so we did for the Quantas Lounge, which was really easy and fun, extra part was that we were above the Red Bull stand and could watch our favourite drivers while cooking small snacks.
Quick decisions made and we headed off to Sydney, we didn’t work there, maybe only for a week next to the opera, the job was crap so we decided to head to Perth and see what happens there.
In Perth, my friend found a job as cigar seller and me, I found myself to good for the hospitality level in Perth so I denied most of the jobs, and ran out of money really quick. Too proud to ask anyone for help, I did some private garden landscaping to afford a 400$ flight to Broome where I applied for a job as Chef in a Resort called Eco Beach.
I arrived in Broome (North West Australia) with 5 dollars in my pocket and a locked Credit card because I forgot my pin, had no Wifi or the internet. Arrived at 9 pm at night when everything is closed. Walked up to a guy in the DVD shop and asked him for a water, but i could not pay it. I offered him to pay it back as soon as I make some money, he said yeah sure take two bottles. So i walked off towards the places where I was meant to stay that night, luckily a couple drives past by which i managed to grab a hike from them towards the Hostel.
At the reception, i explained my situation that I cannot afford the hostel, but I got a job and I’m happy to pay double the money back in my first paycheck.
The nice receptionist lady paid my room and I stayed one night.
Next day I flew out with the private plane to the resort and met my head chef Brad, which is one of the most passionate and humble, hard working chefs I’ve met.
(This is where my Spearfishing Passion starts and a new chapter of my life)
On the day of my arrival, I saw a Speargun on the side of the staff area,
I’ve grabbed it and Domanic Matsumoto (The Aboriginal Tour guide for the Broome area of the Yawuru Clan) asked me If i have ever spearfished.
I answer “No” but could you take me???
He didn’t hesitate and said yes, next day we took few fishing rod, the Speargun and only a mask and snorkel and few booties to stand on the side of the rocks at high tide. He explained to me that this is not how it’s done, murky water, not the right spot but for me it was one of the most badass things I’ve done so far. We caught a fish on the fishing rod’s and cooked it on the side of the cliffs – in particular on a rock …that was so amazing!!!!
After that day, I started YouTubing for Spearfishing and watching videos of Kimi Werner and the Youngbloods and many other big names that inspired me, but mostly Kimi Werner because she is a chef too!!!
I bought my spearfishing equipment on my first paycheck and asked Dominic if we can go spearfishing every day I would have off work…
The fact that I would wake up at 5 am in the morning and go Kayak out into the ocean before my 10 am work shift to jump in and hunt few fish and just have the adventure, increase my skills or see spectacular underwater events where which I could talk about in the kitchen.
Took me around 3 weeks of 4-5 diving sessions each week to catch my first fish, because in Broome the tides are very big (10m) and the water very sharky and dirty, which didn’t really scare me at any point.
My first fish ended up being cooked by us in the kitchen and shared between each other.
The passion for spearfishing became bigger and bigger, while still being kinda stuck in the kitchen i have been dreaming of catching bigger fish and seeing the whole professional side of it since it’s a growing sport and it’s not very easy.
My head chef talked to me about Indonesia, New Zealand and all the other parts where the water is clean since he has been already been there. The way he explained his own experience I have been getting more and more motivated to do what I want and pursue my hobby and new passion.
With him telling me that with the attitude of getting stuff done, I can do whatever I want in life as long as I put as a lot of Effort into it – So I did.
First trip to Indonesia was magical I ended up doing things I’d never imagine – Bali – Gilis – Lombok in 1 ½ months, met cool people who surf, few spearfisherman and the way that a fish that we catch creates amazing times.
We had barbecues and amazing bonfires with people that are all alike.
Time and money turned irrelevant.
After that Trip, i decided to sort out my financial situation (I had a debt in Germany that I tried to pay off while traveling)
I went back into the kitchen and worked as much and hard as possible to save up money and do something different in life.
Looking up how to become a better Freediver put my attention on Apnea Bali (freediving school), wrote them an email asking about the courses and options. Because the goals were to become a good freediver or maybe Instructor. (Ended up as Instructor)
Since spearfisherman have to be good Freedivers, the goal was clear – I want to be super good, over average.
While still Spearfishing in Australia, learning Tips and tricks, discovering the coastlines of Broome and Cape Leveque, I’ve seen things that most tourist won’t ever experience or see without paying huge sums of money. And we just went there to camp and catch our own dinner.
The beauty of the ocean never got boring, it kept on getting more and more beautiful, the things we get to see are unreal, it’s like out of space, the events that can happen any minute – you can never forget.
So I decided to quit traveling in Australia and move to Indonesia to do my Freediving courses in Amed and Spearfish around the Area.
Made friends with many locals, we went out and just had fun spearfishing as friends, catching our own dinner and making parties at home where we would cook and enjoy a good time.
As well as tourists and expat that live in Indonesia, everyone loves fresh fish (except few Vegetarians but even those accept the way of Spearfishing because it’s not easy and you do risk your own life)
You can make many friends with food. Especially the one that you catch, prepare yourself.
People start seeing the effort that goes into catching it – you head out for 4 – 8 hours, maybe you get something or not, then you head home. Fillet it, wash the equipment and you still need to cook.
Of Course, the good part of being a chef made everything easy, I would be able to do all the cooking part very quickly.
At some point, I’ve met a guy that offered me a Job on the Chatham Islands to hunt for Crayfish as a freediver. Which sounded super unreal, but I said yes straight away and told him that I will come to New Zealand and work with him, without even thinking about it.
I ended up on the Chatham Islands – 680 km’s on the east coast of New Zealand, catching crayfish commercially in one of the most remote places on earth, pretty much first place to see the sun, it even has his own time zone.
Most New Zealand people don’t even know where or what that Island is or that it even exists.
Getting the chance for such an adventure I could not deny and even make good money there.
Working on the Island, then In Queenstown as Chef again, I returned to Indonesia for two months to change up the climate and at some point return to new Zealand for another season of crayfish.
Why I’m telling you about those two months – they are important, this is where I’ve met Peter who was running Indonesia Spearfishing Charter already but by himself.
We went on a trip with friends and got along really quick so he offered me to become part of the Company and we could run the show together.
The decision was clear, this is the point in my life where I will have the chance to put more effort into everything I do and create something with bare hands, as we do In the Kitchen. Going back to NZ with a goal set to make enough money to set up the business in Indonesia and run a Charter of Bali.
In any point, there was not one minute where I doubted any of my decisions because that is what I want to do and it’s my passion. And I enjoy doing it any day.
So this is where we are now, we are running a Spearfishing Charter of Bali, that shows the people the lifestyle of being in the Ocean and give them the chance to catch their own dinner and learn how to prepare it in the end – enjoy it.
2. What is your educational background?
(Answered in the text above)
3. Have you found what you are looking for?
No, I’m constantly striving for improvement and getting new Ideas, there is no limit for us humans as long as we really want something, and put effort into it.
Even if there is good times or bad times, there is always a solution if you think about it, and it will require small steps and stay positive.
I feel like my life is only just beginning.
What do you call success? –
Success for me is where I wake up to work, and it does not feel like work.
Because I LOVE what I’m doing.
It feels like I’m going out fishing with my customers and we create amazing memories, share stories of our lives, in the end, we turn into Friends.
As well as seeing people being super happy that they have done something they think they could not do before or it seems unreal because we show and teach them everything they need to know. So it becomes way easier to understand what you are actually doing
4. What to prepare before spearfishing or freediving, any particular physical fitness or condition? Skills?
In Freediving and Spearfishing, the most important is to have a clear mind, you cannot put your private life or anything that is affecting your emotions into the water.
Physical conditions are well required for the game fishing(Big Pelagic fish over 30kg+, there is fish that are really hard to get – it requires long breath hold times, good shape and you get into uncomfortable zones which require a lot of knowledge of the currents because it can get really dangerous.
You would never be able to go freediving hangover, it would be the worst feeling in your life.
As well as with a full stomach, most freedivers or spearfisherman don’t eat for the whole time their fishing because the digestion part takes away oxygen.
And eating unhealthy foods will decrease your performance as well as smoking.
I don’t want to make it sound hard, the sport is for everyone, you just need to know at what level you are starting and be real with yourself about it.
Absorbing experience of the people around you is the key.
Any age group can do it. Any physical type of person no matter if skinny or a bit overweight.
Personally for myself as a guide I prefer to be always in 100% shape, it helps my mind to be ready for certain trips where I don’t have to worry about getting tired.
That’s my excuse for being a gym lover, I love working out and fitness.
5. Talking about life – your life, what makes you happy?
Currently, I’m happy because I keep meeting the greatest people on this journey.
(One specific person In the current state, has a big influence on my future moves)
And my job opens up constant new opportunities,
having a lot of goals for myself in the next few years to open up adventures where you not only sit around, but you learn things, when I can learn something that I’m really really interested in it. , which helps me to get better in certain situations – I feel happy.
The fact that we can create bonds with just a small trip, catch a fish, cook it for dinner and have the nicest conversations – makes me happy.
Sharing experiences and stories, learning about other people…. Is always inspiring.
Also the fact that that we make people happy on their holidays and are able to show a different side of adventures that are not so easy to access without knowing where to go.
Then as well my family is paying a big role in it, I have two families – one in Bali and one in Germany which both of them I love and they constantly support me in any direction, and sometimes tell me off when it’s really stupid obviously.