The Witcher Official Cookbook is now available for purchase, and we're sure you'd like to know how the project started. Anita Sarna and Karolina Krupecka told us what sparked it and discussed how fictional dishes became reality on the book's pages.
We’re Anita and Karolina from Nerds’ Kitchen Creations and Witcher Kitchen – our focus revolves around culinary motifs in video games, books, and movies. We create inspired recipes with stylized photos and videos, aiming to reflect the vibes of a given fictional universe, but also to advocate the importance of food elements in creating believable worlds, especially in video game design.
We've been working together (and with our team) for about seven years, and we’ve made collaboration projects with several partners such as CD PROJEKT RED, Bethesda Polska, Xbox Polska, Netflix Food, and a few smaller gaming-related companies. We’ve also had the pleasure of helping in designing food and cooking elements in The Chronicles Of Myrtana: Archolos (a free, total conversion mod for Gothic II: Gold Edition).
At first, Nerds’ Kitchen was focused only on video games. It was my [Anita’s] passion since childhood, and I analyzed games, exploring many of their elements from storytelling to gameplay mechanics, as well as visuals and all the artistic means that shaped them as a complex product. I also always loved food — not only the cooking and eating part, but also diving deeply into food-related topics.
With these two passions in mind, one day I realized that food motifs in some games are so well done that they’re not only visual, ornamental additions — but that they can create immersion and build the unique character of a given fictional world. I wondered why there wasn’t a lot of special focus or discussion of these motifs in the same way there was for other elements (like architecture or character design), and I thought that maybe there was some space for me to change it. So I started by making inspired recipes with a focus on being faithful to a given universe and writing about my food-related observations in video games on my blog.
When Karolina and I met, I was already running a video-game-focused culinary blog, and Karolina had her website about Witcher-related topics. We felt that our creative ideas somehow aligned, so we started making content together, a collaboration that has lasted up to today. Our focus naturally broadened and we also started creating recipes inspired by books and movies/series — but mainly we like to get inspired by complex worlds in which food plays a significant role, or participate in projects that aim to incorporate food motifs on a deeper level.
The Witcher Official Cookbook
We met each other because of a Witcher-inspired recipe, so it was quite natural that at some point we would collaborate on a project for the Witcher universe since it was really close to our hearts; thus we created the Witcher Kitchen website. At that time we already had some cool projects done in collaboration with CD PROJEKT RED so we thought that might be a good next step. And after a few other Witcher-related projects, a couple of years later we were given a chance to make a full, official cookbook — so it seems that our persistence and dedication to the project paid off! And of course, we want to keep developing this project as the inspirations are vast and we believe this universe still has much to offer in terms of culinary content.
Andrzej Sapkowski wasn’t involved in the process of creating the cookbook, but he was presented with an early, work-in-progress copy and graced our project with a very detailed, interesting foreword that explains many inspirations behind his depictions of food in the Witcher books. We’re really honored and happy that he also emphasized the role of food motifs in the world-building of fictional universes. Also, we had a chance to meet him in person and it was a really lovely meeting during which we talked, of course, about food!
We did the entire process ourselves — from planning the stylization and prop selection, stylizing the photo set and arranging proper lights, cooking dishes, doing the actual photo shoot, and finally post-processing. In fact, the majority of our photos were taken… inside Anita's small flat. We don’t have a dedicated studio for now, so we had to make use of the living space we had. It was challenging, but also quite funny sometimes — especially when Karolina tested her styling skills and tried to recreate fragments of locations from the game. For example, Skellige's shore with rocks or Oxenfurt’s pier with sand — in fact, it was a whole Witcher-styled journey enclosed in a small living room! A lot of cleaning afterward (!), but we think that we managed to create atmospheric photos with broad scenes, to showcase the whole vibe of a given place, not only the food itself.
We did complex and deep research into both the books and the games — we knew them well already before making the cookbook, but as we wanted to stay true to this universe, we carefully checked everything and went back to the source material numerous times to check facts, dialogues, visuals, etc.
We used our own cooking experiences as well as recipes we learned in our family homes, as many of the mentions of Witcher food are indeed related to our local, Polish cuisine. But we also needed to do research for some dishes we weren’t familiar with, think about how to give them our own, unique spin, and then test them several times.
First, we created a list of well-known dishes that we perceived as must-haves to be included in the cookbook (from the perspective of Witcher fans’ expectations). Apart from iconic dishes known from dialogues, cutscenes, or Geralt's inventory items (consumables), we supplemented the list of recipes with meals inspired "indirectly" by the culinary motifs we know from the games and books. For example, ingredients that you can buy at merchants' stands, based on the geography of the Continent, and the availability of seasonal harvests in Velen and Toussaint.
As for translating "fictional dishes" into reality — food in The Witcher (if we omit monster-related cuisine) is based on real meals, inspired by a mix of European cuisines. So it required research to learn about all the inspirations and their roots and then to think about how to interpret these recipes for the Witcher universe and its lore, and of course to adjust to the needs of a modern cookbook. Since some ingredients differ between various parts of the world, it was a challenge to adjust recipes for a global audience of Witcher fans.
Also, we’ve arranged recipes into chapters that are dedicated to given locations known from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — here we broke the common cookbook rule of categorizing recipes according to the type of meal. Luckily, our publisher supported us in this choice — thanks to this, we obtained a collection of dishes that matched the characteristics of the locations defined by the Witcher lore. Also, it allowed us to create a complete culinary journey of the cookbook’s narrator, who learns each recipe while visiting various places and ties short stories to each recipe.
Regarding favorite recipes — it’s not an easy task to choose, as each has some background story. Let’s say that the most sentimental for us are the Chicken Sandwich inspired by The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Mahakam Zalewajka from the Season of Storms book (this soup is also a great representation of flavors found in classic Polish cuisine); But we also love sweets, and one of our favorite desserts is the chocolate soufflé from Beauclair that we serve with a sweet sauce made of red wine.
We cannot say anything specific about our plans at this point. For now, we want to focus on the feedback from cookbook readers and further support our Witcher Kitchen project, and also complete some smaller gigs from our other partners. We certainly would like to expand our portfolio and work on more food and pop-culture-related publications — especially those that focus on building the deep culinary layer of popular fictional universes so that we can spread our creative wings. Our dream is to use our experience and knowledge directly in video games, through environmental storytelling and immersive world-building via food and culinary motifs, believable in-game food items, or compelling cooking mechanics — which in our opinion can enhance every game experience. We have some experience in this arena and we feel that there's much more we can offer. We’re open to any possibilities, also beyond video games. We’ll see what the future will bring us!