Brush with the Edge of Time and Profession
by Chef Edward Nowakowski
Trafford Publishing

"These lifelong memories are about wonder and about kindness, they are about living life with gratitude, they are about being open to the gifts of both the light and the shadows of our experience."

Nowakowski, an award-winning chef, traces the history and experiences of his family during Hitler's war, the Stalin era, a new life in the United States, and how all of this shaped his life today. The book is divided in two parts, beginning with the memories from his mother, Stasia, who recalls life as young girl on a farm in Poland with her family. It is peaceful there, but the threat of the German invasion keeps everyone on edge. She remembers the rare things they had, the difficulty of managing the farm, and her chilling recollection of the German soldiers. "…the little we had was taken by the Germans to feed their army so they were strong enough to kill us."

Stasia's life changes when she is sent to Germany with her father into forced labor. There, she meets and falls in love with Janek Nowakowski. Stasia becomes pregnant, a particularly vulnerable situation for her at the age of sixteen, and she recounts the difficulty of raising a child while working in the labor camps. Separated from Janek, she hopes one day that her baby, Edus, will meet his father. Before the end of the war, Stasia is allowed to return home with her baby. Life in Poland after the war remains difficult, but Stasia is reunited with her family (and eventually Janek) and begins a new life as a mother.

The book shifts to Edward's (Edus) story as he recalls his life growing up with his mother and father and his younger brother, who is stricken with meningitis. Edward later begins his career as a chef, eventually moving to the US, "the Promised Land," where he earns his status as Executive Sous Chef. In spite of limitations of his immigration status, personal issues with his son, and a heart condition, Edward perseveres in his career until the surprising revelation of his wife's cancer changes everything. Brush with the Edge of Time and Profession is a deeply personal book that details the joys and sorrows of a mother and son. Their stories are equally inspiring and celebrate the human heart and demonstrates how one can survive even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Return to USR Home