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Good people, good places | Big picture of gastronomy

Our gastronomic series is coming to its end soon, but luckily we still have a few inspiring stories up our sleeve. Why is it important to have a hangout? What makes a good vegan restaurant? And does it matter if the restaurant manager brings your favorite dishes to your door personally? And for those of you who didn’t already know: according to plans, the festival of traditional bread makers will expand beyond Budapest and will involve rural towns to the greatest joy of at-home-bakers, early risers, experimental bakers and the addicts of quality bakery products. The joint campaign of Piqniq Budapest and Mastercard.

József Váncsodi – physician, gastronomic journalist, master of ceremonies

“One has to strengthen personal relationships, preferably within arm’s reach.”

This may be a surprise to many, but József Váncsodi graduated in a field that is hardly close to gastronomy: he earned his diploma at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Pécs and became an orthopedic-traumatologist specialist. In addition to working as a gastronomic journalist, the Györköny-born doctor often takes on the role of master of ceremony at weddings. Wow! József was born in Györköny, a small village in Tolna county, and today, he calls the city of Pécs his second home, together with the catering establishments operating there, among which he has several favorites and hangouts. According to József, having a regular spot means much more than living our lives as predictable guests. A hangout is a safe spot: the place that we grew to love, where we are happy to spend our money in exchange for the service of someone we know.

According to József, lately there has been an odd duality in the city when it comes to local gastronomy: on the one hand, the new-wave craze has now reached Pécs, allowing locals to drink delicious, high-quality coffee at more and more places. At the same time, the situation does not look so good in terms of restaurants, yet József firmly believes that soon the gastronomic life will also flourish in the city. And even though the current epidemic does not advance this change, we can still mention a few great counterexamples, which makes it worth visiting Pécs once the epidemic is over. Reggeli, the second “love-child” of Dávid Felcser and Tamás Szép, the owners of Nappali, ranks high on our bucket list, for sure!

Ádám Zsigó – owner, Zsivány

“I wanted to create a place where we know exactly how our regular guests drink their coffee.”

Lately, in the specialty fever that has taken over Budapest, the classic Italian coffee line has been pushed to the background but luckily there are a few places that managed to hold their ground in this genre, too. In spite of his young age, Ádám Zsigó is an experienced and responsible cafe owner, who combines the classic Italian coffee trend with a dynamic kitchen perfectly in Zsivány located in the Buda side. Ádám is not only inspired by running the cafe: he works extremely hard to build and shape the local community, this is why he looked for a spot where life is a bit slower, with less traffic and more of a familiar atmosphere. He thinks these are the ingredients that guarantee the viability of a place in the long run. Thus, Krisztina körút in Buda seemed like an ideal spot, and today, quite a few coffee fans feel like regulars when they enter his cafe. Zsivány’s concept also includes breakfast and a light lunch—nowadays in the form of takeaway. Together with Balázs, who started as a kitchen helper and is in charge of meals solely today, they have created a kitchen focusing on serving the cafe’s regular audience.

Ádám believes that the true experience and thrill lies in the fact that the cafe operates as a small business. He and his colleagues work hard to preserve the personality and intimacy of the place. It’s hard to find a balance between work and private life when working this hard: for Ádám, for instance, the cafe has become a part of his everyday life so much that he could only step out of it when they had to shut down for three months during the spring restrictions. Since the reopening, Zsivány keeps going with the same personal hospitality that has become a trademark of the place.

György Antalóczy – owner, FLOW Specialty Coffee Bar & Bistro

“Due to the epidemic, we have lost a major part of our regulars—this we had to rebuild from square one. We had to rethink the cost structure, our offer as well as some staff issues so that we could adjust our offer to the new situation.”

High quality ingredients and creativity in the kitchen are all necessary for making good vegan dishes. And beyond all this, adds György Antalóczy, the owner of FLOW Specialty Coffee Bar & Bistro, here’s another piece of advice: don’t try to copy meat dishes, nothing good will ever come from it. Since their opening in 2018, FLOW has evolved continuously, and has become a fresh spot on the palette of Andrássy út. Before the epidemic, it was almost impossible to find a seat in the guest area, as many freelancers considered the bistro their second home: they sipped their favorite new-wave coffee while sitting in front of the screens or tried something out of the local specialties. 

It was a cup of well-made filter coffee that made Gyuri, who graduated as an economist, fell in love with the world of coffee, and he has been studying and developing himself ever sinceand the team members working in his cafe prove to be a great help in this. When the epidemic hit the country, they had no other choice but to answer the question of “what’s next?” raised by many with a cool head: they had to build a new strategy. On weekdays, now they delight their guests with regular and fine menus: their dishes come with diverse flavors and splendid looks, available to go or for home delivery. One thing we can be sure of is that when it comes from FLOW’s kitchen, we can expect our broccoli cream soup to blow our minds, and of course the baked apple soup is best when broiled with rose water and served with orange millet dumplings.

Dalma Kormos – head of communication, Salt Budapest, TOPRUM, Bridge Budapest

“The gastronomic businesses that could remain on their feet and have resources to communicate apply more creative solutions than ever before. Personal communication and connection play an important role in this situationif the restaurant manager also takes part in home delivery and gets to meet the guests this way, it gives a giant plus.”

Szilárd TóthSalt Budapest‘s chef has already said in a previous Piqniq article: “People should love us like salt.” The statement might seem simple, but it is not only the pun with the name of the fine dining restaurant that makes it worth taking a closer look at this profoundly simple yet concise sentence. We all know that salt is an indispensable ingredient when making food: without it, the dish becomes bland and often unpalatable, and a pinch of it even benefits sweet doughs. But how can a food business achieve, especially in the troubled times brought about by the coronavirus, that their guests do not forgo delicious and tasty bites and that they form and maintain a strong connection with the given catering establishment?

According to head of communication Dalma Kormos, a modern business must be creative not only behind the kitchen counter, but also in the field of communication if they want to remain on their feet. To build and maintain a core audience, one must avail of creative and smart strategic solutions, which is not only possible by posting enticing food photos online. Salt has been striving to form a personal relationship with its guests since the very beginning, and thus the manager of the restaurant himself also delivered the dishes ordered to the guest’s door. This way, with all due respect to bike couriers, it becomes an entirely different experience to open our doors.

Áron Németh – event organizer, Kenyérlelke Festival

“We see that more and more people are starting to turn their attention to good bread.”

Kenyérlelke, the festival of traditional bread makers, has gained more and more popularity over the years thanks to the sourdough revolution that started five or ten years ago. At last year’s event, the number of applicants doubled, which causes a great joy to Áron Németh, the organizer of the festival, as these numbers confirm that more and more people started baking (even at their homes) and realized that nothing compares to good bread. The community of at-home-bakers is continuously growing, new bakeries have opened, and so we don’t have to worry about remaining without tasty buttered puff pastry or bread with a crisp crust, no matter how long this seemingly endless home office setup will last. In mid-January, to only mention one example out of the many, the Chez Matild Artisan Bakery opened on Ménesi út, where one can even get pain au chocolat.

Seeing the popularity of the festival, the organizers also plan to expand the event beyond Budapest. Hopefully, the epidemic will be over soon and the fans of high-quality bakery products can gather in the towns all across the country together with those who do everything to have tasty breads, baguettes and croissants fill the tables of more and more Hungarians.

Photography | Dávid Horpáczi
Video | Gergő Sepsi

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