28 Jul

Seasonal, Hungarian cooking experience

Tired of mass tourism? Experience something fun, healthy and sustainable
in Budapest. Szatyor invites you for their “Seasonal, Hungarian cooking
experience”.

Budapest is one of the biggest hype in the last few years on the world travellers’
maps. The city certainly has a special atmosphere, a very fortunate landscape
and is fully rich in architecture. It offers a colourful range of possibilities for
tourists with different aims so everyone can benefit the most of their free time.

In case you are looking for something local, organic, tasty and healthy which is
conscious about the self and the environment we recommend you to try out
Szatyor’s new service dedicated for travellers who care about eating and
sustainability.

Szatyor is an urban solution for people of Budapest who pay attention to their
food choices and want to eat good, organic food. Unlikely in the countryside, in
the capital it’s quite a challenge to get access for these kind of ingredients but
this community found the way to make it and are ready to spread the mission
towards tourists.

“We didn’t want to call it a cooking course on purpose because we think this is

something different. We would like to invite like minded people to gather
together, get to know us, share stories from all around the world, and of course
cook together and have lots of fun.”
During the 4-5 hours workshop the guests are welcome with appetisers and the
hosts introduce the place and the community. After that they walk together to the
closest farmer market where everyone has the opportunity to get in touch with
local producers in person, try their products and shop some ingredients that they
like. Some of these farmers are Szatyorbolt’s suppliers so they welcome the
group as good friends.

After the shopping the group returns to Szatyor and prepare the 3 course menu together that contains of typical Hungarian dishes from families` life and that vary according to the season. Everyone is involved in the process and the hosts also tell about the typical Hungarian spices, gastronomy, ingredients. Once the food is ready the group eats it together where the table is open for storytelling.

The session includes some alcoholic/non alcoholic beverages, coffee and a give- away recipe book that everyone can take home. The organisers also encourages their guests to take some of the ingredients with them and prepare the newly learnt recipes for their families and friends. This is a great way to share the experience and also be conscious about souvenir shopping.

If that doesn’t sound attractive enough yet we saved the best part last. Since
Szatyorbolt is very determined about the social impact they make, they dedicated
themselves to save 10% of the income of the workshops’ fee as a contribution to
a charity project. They follow up with their previous guests via email and let them know how they contributed with their money.

Got interested to try out this so called
“Seasonal, Hungarian cooking
experience”? Check out their website and
book your place at:
www.localfoodinbudapest.hu
You can also visit their TripAdvisor profile
that is available under the same name.
Have fun and eat something healthy and
delicious!

06 Apr

Let is Slow (Foodiez)!

Upon entering into the vegetarian- vegan restaurant in the heart of the city, close to the Great Boulvard in Szondi street the time is suddenly slowing down. While we are tasting the super healthy and energizing breakfast or lunch we completely forget the rushing and crazy circle that we entered from.

The owner of Slow Foodiez Krisztina Geyer planned the whole place in an environmental conscious thinking from the very beginning. It is no wonder that only after one year of the opening it is already on the list of Sustainable Restaurants. Beside that eegetarian-vegan foood is served here—easing environmental burden—the vegetables are bought at local markets. No better proof is needed for this attitude that Kriszta is asking her colleagues loudly at the end of our interview: „Is there anything else needed from the market?”. Beyond the quality raw material they take care of the packaging too. Guests take away their daily menu in compostable boxes.

The Slow Food movement started in Italy at the end of the eighties during a demonstartion against a fast food chain. The official declaration was signed a few years later in Paris.

The movement has three fundamental principles: „good, clean and fair”. „Good” stands for good quality, tasty and healthy food. „Clean” means those products that do not harm the environment and „fair”acceptable prices both for the customer and fair payment conditions to the farmer. It is no question that these principles are fulfilled in Slow Foodies since Kriszta is an active supporter of the movement.

The other motto is „from vegeterian to vegan” that shows a way and an approach to us.  All the team memebers are either vegetarian or vegan and their aim is to help others to struggle with the first cloddish steps on becoming a raw, vegan eater. At Slow Foodiez it is not difficult to follow this way since the variety of food is really catchy and they have some offer for the „beginners”too.

Just to mention some from the menu: „Farmer’s scrambled eggs”—that is made of Youtyúk’s freshly picked eggs from happy, freely scratching chickens served twisted rolls with smoked tofu and figs balsamico or the durum ravioli with cashew and spinach filling. Itasted the vegan omlette a’la Slow Foodiez. This roundel made of chickpea flour and served with grilled vegetables and smoked tofu completely swept out off my feet and I have not even thought about lunch or any other food until afternoon.

The furnishment also reflects the slow taste of life. Lovely pastel colours, feeling of home welcomes the guests. Furthermore, there are some really cute drawings for sale of a regular guest who is a graphic designer. With buyng a picture we give an automatic support the Children’s meal Fund with half of the price.

Leaving the place it is only possible with a big smile since we did and ate something good. So, let is slow!

Translated by: Ágnes Jakab

29 Mar

Margitutcakilenc Bistro

Behind a closed fence hides a rustic major houselike cafe which was planned to be a farmers market. Although the original plan was fizzled out, a new place was opened there for the delight of the residents of the 2nd district. This place is suitable for informal conversations, watching football games, listen to a concert or play board games. Margitutcakilenc  (=Margit street 9.) is a half covered, half opened garden which is churning peace of mind: in good weather you can listen to the twittering birds and you can feel that you aren’t close to one of the busiest boulevard of the city. In cold weather you can sit in the winterized garden like in a hut drinking a cup of herb tea or a cold crafts beer. Moreover you can also take your dog with yourself!

You can listen to a concert or visit a gastronomic event during whole year: last summer we cooked fish soup as part of the HalatHon campaign. This place gave home for Kenyérlelke (The soul of bread) festival in August; in December goulash soup was cooked here for homeless people and in January here was held a pig-killing.

The group is available with heart and soul to talk about their pursuit. Their source of supply is still those farmers who were planned to sell their products here. They were searching for some small scale markets where it’s important to produce with local commodities without any preservatives and other additives. Nowadays it’s so important, because people are fed with polymers and bad quality food.
The menu is changing, but in average there are 2 soups, 2-3 main dish or you can choose a sandwich, bratwurst or toast with hummus. The choice is adjusted to seasonal vegetables and you can always find some vegetarian dish. For preparing food cold-pressed oils, butter high quality meat and vegetables are used.

We offer this Sustainable Café for those who like traditional Hungarian stew served in a mug with a glass wine accompanied by friends and good music.

Translated by Zsuzsa Éliás

23 Mar

Placc café

Not far from St. Gellért Square there is a place that serves delicious coffee with always smiling staff. The café (called Placc= Space) became a member of Sustainable Restaurants at the beginning of January 2017 and if you want to know why, you just have to ask the owner, Dudás Peti. Sustainability comes so naturally to him, he stopped our conversation several times to exclaim “Oh, and there is also…” while we were talking about how he earned our seal of approval.

Upon entering the little café, the friendly service immediately makes you feel like you’re a regular. Most of the furniture is made out of recycled wood by one of Peti’s old friends, and a girl who lives in the same building drew the little pictures and patterns that decorate the wall. Our favorite, locally roasted black coffee comes out of a restored, sleekly designed coffee machine and served with local milk. As a bonus, a fantastic vegan cookie will make your day, if the decor or Peti haven’t done that yet.

The cookies are made by Szonja, the author of ‘My vegan kitchen’ (Az én vegán konyhám) and are so popular that customers finish them down to the last crumb before the close of business every day. If you prefer something savory, you can have a sandwich. The ingredients are sourced directly from small producers or Peti retrieves them himself from the local market. He goes to the market by foot, because he wants to reduce the pollution in Budapest’s air. If your stomach is still growling, you can choose from freshly baked pastries from nearby Pékműhely bakery. If you want a healthy breakfast or snack, you can crunch on vegan granolas. One of Peti’s specialties is the “corretto”, an Italian coffee, but served with Palinka from Keve manufactory instead of the usual Grappa.

The Placc therefore, always give you a good reason to pop by; whether for a refreshing coffee with breakfast in the morning, a snack in the afternoon, or for the aforementioned corretto.

Written by Eszter Szabó, Translated by Magdi Németh

17 Mar

Between two chairs, falling in the glass

There is a wine tasting room and cafe near the Parliament, called Pohárszék, that brings to mind the atmosphere of Provence.

The establishment carries the elegance and youth of France. Besides going there for its delicious meals, it is convenient for get-togethers, business meetings or work while enjoying a good cup of coffee. As a bonus, dog owners can bring along their four-legged friends, who are free to mingle with the customers.

According to the owner, Viktória Németh, they’ve come a long way and without her husband’s and co-worker’s support, it would’t have been possible to be where they are today. The exceptionality of the place lies in its owner’s enthusiasm for and expertise in wine, and her passion for light roasted fruity-flavored and dark roasted Italian style coffee.

Many years ago Viktória and her husband opened a small but well-liked wine shop and wine tasting room in District 9. The tasting room turned out to be too little, so they started to think about expanding into a larger space, where, besides wine and breakfast plates, they might also serve sandwiches, salads and cakes.

After getting the idea from a loyal costumers, Viktória began decorating the walls with wine bottles from all over the country. Apart from wine tasting, the couple host craft beer and home-made syrup expositions. Some of the wine and palinka can be consumed on the spot, and the wine tasting list changes every two weeks.

There are, of course, other gourmet selections in Pohárszék, where you can start your day with rice pudding, porridge, granola and fresh fruits or choose from among a selection of sandwiches and pastries. You can get coffee beans to go, chocolates, home-made pestos, chutneys and jams. Due to the small size of the kitchen, the cafe offers one menu item a day. I had an amazing culinary experience there, eating penne with salmon and enjoying my delicious cappuccino.

Their catering service has became very popular very quickly, since they have gluten, lactose and sugarfree pastries and they list meals prepared with allergic ingredients.

At Poharszek, they know delicous food is made from top quality ingredients, and are very concerned about the value of their products. They collaborate with reliable hand made pastry and cake providers and local vegetable distributors, and prioritize serving fresh meat and fresh ingredients every day.

As a certified Fenntartható Vendéglátóhely (Sustainable Restaurant), being environmentally conscious is of the utmost importance: many of their packaging materials and cleaning products are environmentally friendly. Hirado.hu produced a video about exactly why sustainability is so important to them, which you can watch by clicking the following link.

A patio opens out onto the mezzanine, creating a friendly atmosphere. Terrace tables appear as the weather gets warmer, so patrons have the option of eating outside. Nothing testifies to the great atmosphere   that’s been cultivated there better than the chatting of satisfied customers while they enjoy a sandwich and an amazing glass of wine.

I hope everyone has the opportunity to experience the fantastic culinary journey that Pohárszék has to offer.

Written by Zsuzsanna Dencs, Translated by Magdi Németh

03 Mar

Pajta – The heart of Őrség, Hungary

„We were dreaming of a complex which is both gastronomic and cultural pilgrimage. This is the surroundings of an former barn with an overview to Szala-völgy (Szala-valley). On one hand its traditional and community building space, on the other hand it’s a real bistro from the 21st century which is worth to visit even from afar.” – That’s what you can read on the website of Pajta and this is not boastful from their part. The restaurant which is located in the Templomszer part of Őriszentpéter, -the center of Őrség- is really a place worth to visit. Not just the reminiscence of the taste is the thing that you take home!

Őrség became more and more popular recently. What is its reason? Everybody knows who was there. For those who haven’t visited, people who are living there are the most “earth-bounded” in Hungary. They move less in their life. –  This goes on since centuries. This is the reason why they are the most traditional. For e.g. during our visit – at the beginning of May- we saw many maypoles. It’s impossible to visit every amazing natural assets and cultural values in 3-4 day. It’s a part of the country where you have to go back from time to time.

Our trip was spontaneous. We hadn’t planned anything in advance except our accomodation and the dinner in Pajta. So we started our trip by the center of Őrség National Park where we collected all information about the nature trails and other local monuments. Since our visit at Pajta hasn’t been planned at the first day we got some experience in the gastronomy of the region. There are surprisingly much inns. We could taste (mainly wild) meat dishes and tasty cheese. The wild mushroom soup was also not a delusion anywhere.

We reached Pajta after an encouraging beginning. Ferenc Kvasznicza was already waiting for us. Even if the weather conditions weren’t the best – it was rainy and murky – the sight was wonderful and captivating through the window wall of the bistro. By our table the region Őrség was unfolded in its full magnificence. We could also see the kaleyard where the spices are growing and also a small “kitchen for students” which is the private garden of Ferenc. The park- because it’s a better word than the garden – is kept good. There is a place where the nature takes over and we could see the colorful flowers, the waist-high grass and a lush field. It turns out that this doesn’t praise the work of a horticulture manager but the regulations of Őrség National Park. In order to preserve biodiversity it is forbidden to cut the grass by such big area. Some scattered garden furniture, red and blue beach chairs are waiting for the sun. Children find a wood carousel at the end of the garden and they are happy to use it in spite of the weather conditions. The landscape and the mood are just like in Italy. No spasticity and rigid “you MUST be happy here” feelings can be found here. Nay! The character of Pajta is charm. I imagine good weather conditions with 25 °C and the balcony would be opened. I would spend a day here by taking the pleasure in the landscape and sipping lemonade. I feel that the owners of this café know how extraordinary the place where they are working and living. That’s why they understand the tourists who are amazed by the place.

The building where the bistro is, is not so big. Small stairs are leading to the kitchen and on the first floor live the owners when they are in Őriszentpéter (Ferenc lives originally in Dunakeszi and his wife, Flora in Budapest). In the guest room there are only 5 tables. This is the answer why they ask you on their webpage to reserve a table in advance if you would come with more than 6 people. (Anyway it is recommended for everyone.) During our visit there were some couples and families with small children in the restaurant. As we saw it wasn’t their first visit there. Even if our visit was some months ago when I write theses sentences I can clearly remember of the scene: 3 blond children (possibly brothers and sisters) are running through the yard with a huge dog running after them and they were playing by the carousel. I remember that I was saying it was such romantic as sob stuff.

Before dinner –before the night became dark – I was escaping to the garden to take some photos. Ferenc was vigilant so in the rest of the day he was guiding me. He told me that he built the kalegarden during this summer. It is his place where he can make some experiment and he can also “call” the children. He would be happy if children coming from big cities would know how the tomato or carrot looks like before it reaches the shelf of a supermarket. The plants from the spice garden can be used in the kitchen.

As we returned to the restaurant Ferenc promised that I can ask my questions after dinner. And he passes by as fast as he can to the next table to take the orders from the newcomers.

Since we came by car we were drinking only lemonade. After this we were staring to study the menu which changes every week – so it’s always seasonal and mainly made of fresh ingredients. We can choose between 2 starters and 2 soups. As we are big fans of soups one of us choose the bread soup with garlic and spinach, the other choose the cold kapia pepper soup (although I was thinking of trying duck liver with fermented vegetables). We didn’t regret it but we are debating on which dish is tastier. There were 3 main dish on the menu: one with chicken, the other is with pork and the third (our choice) was catfish with vegetables and lemon sauce. The portions were big but there were more place in our stomach for tasting some wonderful cheese which was made by János Molnár who lives close to this place.

While we are sitting back to our chairs satisfied, Ferenc arrives.

In the world of inns it was brave to create a restaurant like Pajta. Where did this idea come from?  

From Flóra. She was propounded to create a pure bistro here in Őriszentpéter. The half part of the building would have been great for events, but it’s also a part of Pajta. We open it in case there are too many visitors. Creating an inn didn’t seem to be a good idea even if we could earn more. We would create a higher quality restaurant. We were thinking of a place where we also could spend our time.

What kind of cuisine are you running?

It’s hard to define. It’s not an exact style. Our chef is working with fresh, seasonal and if possible local ingredients. This means that some special ingredients from Őrség region occur frequently like polenta, buckwheat and mushroom. There’s always some red meat on our menu.

What’s up with vegetarians and others who are suffering from food allergy?

That’s why we are asking you to reserve a table in advance. Then we are asking you if you don’t eat meat or you have an allergy. We are making for fulfill everybody’s needs. It’s hard to avoid milk from a dessert but it’s not impossible if we know it in advance. That’s why we are asking flexibility from our guests. There’s always something without meat among starters and soups and we have cheese.

Who runs the kitchen?

We know a talented young chef called Csaba Söre. He was staring as in intern in Costes, which is a resatauran with Michelin-stars, than he continued in Csalogány 26 in Buda. His last workplace was in 67 Reastaurant and Bistro in Székesfehérvár. We were lucky to get to know him, because he lives now here in Őriszentpéter.

How difficult is to buy ingredients from local farmers?

It was important from the beginning to be in a good relationship with local entrepreneurs. This concerns not only to farmers, but also the owners of the surrounding accommodations. The thing that farmers produce is value. I know it better since I’m also gardening, because there’s so much work with it. So it’s not a question to help them by buying their products. There were some farmers who came in after we opened and they asked us if we can accept their products, and there are others that we were searching for. Naturally at wintertime it’s impossible to buy local products. It would be great to have some greenhouses around.

What are the products that you can’t buy locally at all?

The fish. We buy them fresh from the fish market at Budaörs. Catfish is Hungarian, but sometimes we use see fish. In Őrség there’s no fishery. We know that this is not accepted at short supply chains. As we don’t buy big amounts we cannot solve it by suppliers.

 

Where are your guests coming from?

Most of our guests come from Zalaegerszeg or Szombathely. There are some who came from abroad, mainly from Slovenia. We don’t advertise ourselves consciously. It would be an overstatement to say that they are coming only for us. We are just a small point in their holiday in Őrség. Some local people also offer us that we are very pleased.

I can just confirm this. You were commended by our accommodation. What kind of environmental solutions do you use?

We are trying to cause the less damage for the environment. Unfortunately we use too much water but there’s an aerator by every tap. We are flushing the toilets and giving water for the plants from the well. Fortunately we should water the grass only during heat waves. On the other days there is no need to do this because of the morning dew. We try to use every ingredient. Our chef is managing well. He cooks a broth from the “falling” meat and bones. There’s selective waste management in the town. One of our cook takes green waste home, because he feeds chickens and goats with it. The other part of it is good for composting. The used oil is collected separately and taken away by a special company. We don’t use a special frying system or a microwave oven, so we are using just the minimum electrical appliances. The napkins are textiles, so they are washable. Fish came on Styrofoam plates. We give them forward to people to keep salad in them. So their life cycle can be longer. We have some solar panels. We are closed in January. This is also a way of consciousness. Firstly in this time period are the fewest guests, secondly we can spear on heating and thirdly we can have a rest. We don’t want to gut our stuff and ourselves.

Written by: Viki Doró, translated by: Zsuzsa Éliás

15 Nov

How about some dippin’?

This spring a guy phoned to tell us about his idea: he and his associates intended to make a living through dipping. To be more precise, it is not dipping itself they wanted to do, rather persuading people to have, instead of pogácsa, cheap mayonnaise sandwiches and ham rolls, colorful, seasonal and delicious dips accompanied by veggies or fresh bakery products.  Following a successful ‘Restaurant Day’, the Mártogatós was born; not only are they nice guys making cool stuff, they also care about environmental friendliness. After the crew was given the Sustainable Restaurant qualification, we talked with Gergő Pruda about the idea, its reception, and about open-air events.

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Why sauces?

They’re more dips, actually J Both of us love good food, but there are relatively few places in Budapest  you can try several tastes in smaller portions, and we do not have enough spare time at home to make multiple meals. Gergő’s wife, Andi has celiac disease, so a lot of recipes were out. We decided to have a look at dips and before long we had to realize how much there was in this field. We decided early on that very well-known dips, things like mayonnaise aubergine dip, will either be ignored or pimped up with something new. Being gluten-free was also extended with sugar-free and, in the case of certain creams, lactose-free.

 

What do you use to dip with?

We offer fresh veggies with the dips (carrots, cucumber, bell pepper, radish, fennel, celery stalk) tastefully sliced, which looks very smart on our pop-up counter, along with fresh bakery goods, including gluten-free if there is demand. Except for the goose crackling cream, we do not even have any meaty products, so we also serve home-made snack sausages with the creams.

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In what packages do you offer these?

Presently the company has three main orientations. The first is our catering service, where we set up a portable counter made out of wooden crates and this is where the portioned creams and pre-sliced veggies and bakery goods are offered. The counter is completely portable, can be installed in 30 minutes in a U- or L-shape, but it can also zigzag if that’s what the customer wishes. Practically, there is no event where we could not fit in with that, where we don’t contribute to the atmosphere. We’ve been at a theater press conference in the Műcsarnok, at corporate occasions, at open-air wedding and at festival launch event.

Our second service is the so-called Business Break package. The dips and sticks are portioned for the customer, but here we do not bring the counter, the site provides the space to set up the creams. It’s an ideal choice for company meetings, team building events, and workshops.

For family events or for friends, we created the DipBox service, essentially meaning home delivery, where the creams are portioned in 3.5- or 4.2-dl cups. The vegetables, bakery products and sausages are delivered in fully bio-degradable packaging.

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Where do you get the ingredients from?

Beyond ingredient quality, which is a crucial aspect, we also make the effort to obtain everything we can from small-scale farms or producers. If this is not feasible, the next filter is that they should be Hungarian products, and if it can’t be done either, then we prefer products from the EU. We are really looking forward to contacting home producers, the lack of information is often a problem.

 

Do you make everything yourselves?

 All the creams, yes. There are no semi-prepared products in our kitchen, but the dairy products and bakery goods come from contractors, of course. We do not use mustard, mayonnaise or other things like flavored yogurt.

 

What is/was the biggest challenge in making Mártogatós happen?

It has been a great task to pioneer in an unfamiliar market (for us, catering was such) with a product that had not even existed before. Fortunately, word spread quickly and we have recurring customers as well.

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Which sauces are favorites and which are less preferred?

That’s very hard to tell. Cheese dip with prune and the bluecheese-walnut dip are popular with the ladies, while men tend to reach at once for goose crackling cream. Perhaps our peanut cream is really universally liked.

 

Why is getting the Sustainable Restaurant qualification important for you?

Being health conscious and environmentally friendly are both important to us. Starting a business quite reveals how much waste an enterprise can generate. It’s much more perceptible than in a household. Our conscience also prevents that we carelessly pollute our environment and thus, ourselves.

Thanks and we wish you best of luck!

04 Nov

How to reduce food waste in restaurants?

Food waste is becoming an issue that cannot be ignored by any company in the food sector. What could shows this better that the “No Food To Waste” conference organized in Budapest a few weeks ago, where Tesco signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Central European Foodbank representatives, and committed to work with national governments and charities so that by 2020 all Tesco stores in central Europe will offer food surplus to local charities.

While we’re happy that retailers work hard to reduce their food waste, we were particularly interested in the opinion of Mr. Peter Skelton from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) about how the food service sector could to do their part.

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What does WRAP do?

We work with retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, and food service organizations. We separate food waste (eaten outside of home) and consumer food waste (eaten at home). We don’t look at the social aspects of food waste so much, but we’re more focused on the environmental effects: on the climate and water for example.

We work with hospitality and food industry partners to reduce their food waste, and the food waste of their customers. Decreasing it is good for their operation obviously: they can save money. But measuring food waste can be hard, particularly when they have a franchise model, or when they have a restaurant or café inside another organization. We encourage them to report their data every year. This includes their operational waste, so the waste they physically send for recycling or collection. We don’t measure what goes down the sink, which is a weakness, but we will try to include it later on.

I think that the hospitality sector is less advanced than the retailers in terms of understanding and measuring their food waste, and the resources they put into decreasing it. But they want to learn from retailers. In the UK, food waste generated in restaurants in about 9%. Most of it comes from households (70%), and processing. Retail also only accounts for about 2% of all.

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How do you help restaurants in their efforts to reduce food waste?

We look at their processes, training methods, and their facilities. All these can play a part in preventing food waste. There will always be some food waste though, so the next step is to make sure how that goes through the waste hierarchy: (1) can it be fed to humans (2) or animals, (3) can it be composted (4) or used for biogas.

We encourage them to work on reducing their own waste, but also help with their customers’ waste. This part is trickier. If you’re a café, hotel or restaurant, people come to enjoy your food, and they are paying for it – it’s a treat! So most of them don’t want to think about what happens with the two potatoes they leave on the plate. The more progressive organizations are looking at how they can offer different portion sizes: my mother, child, teenager and me have different needs. These can have different pricing structures. This would be a positive thing.

Are doggy bags wide spread in the UK?

No. It might be getting more wide spread nowadays, and often if you ask people, they will take it; but they don’t make a big effort in getting their leftovers wrapped up.

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How do restaurants measure food waste? Do they differentiate between for example carrot peels and the consumers’ leftovers?

We differentiate between where the food waste is going: anaerobic digestion, composting, biogas treatment. We ask them to record what they are sending for animal feed, and charitable redistribution.

So, we ask about the destination of their waste, not so much the composition of it. We encourage them to measure if their food waste in avoidable, unavoidable or potentially avoidable. Take potato skins for example: some recipes use it and you eat it, for other meals you peel it off. But what they report to us is only the destination.

In Scotland restaurants are obliged to collect their food waste separately by law, but not currently in England or Wales. Most of them are doing it, even though they are not legally obliged to.

How do you motivate restauranteurs to pay attention to this issue?

It’s a big cost reducer: every ton of food waste generated in the food industry costs about 3000 pounds (-4000 Euros). It’s not only the cost of the food, but the cost of cooking it, preparing it, etc. If they know how much they generate, then they’ll know how to tackle it. I think it’s a big issue and entrepreneurs who are aware of it really support the reduction.

So it’s partly about the cost, but it’s also about pressure. There is a lot of pressure in the moment in the UK from TV, newspapers, NGOs.

I think some customers and organizations are requiring companies to pay attention to food waste. I don’t think most people are very conscious yet, but their number is growing. Just like what happens with the retailers: Tesco and Sainsbury publicly report their food waste, and others will follow. I think the hospitality sector will follow, too.

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What do you think about “outsourcing” food waste? Should restaurants buy peeled vegetables, for example?

Consumers are also buying peeled veggies from the stores, and some restaurants so as well. There are arguments both ways: if the veggies are prepared in one location and the waste arises in one place, than it’s much easier to address it. If it arises in lots of little cafes, it’s harder.

It’s about preventing you and your customers’ waste. As a restaurant, you have a responsibility to look beyond your own operations.

Thank you for the interview!

01 Nov

“A good chef understands the food production system” – an afternoon with Gill Meller

Globalist Kitchen has invited Gill Meller to cook for two nights in Budapest in October. Being a chef who focuses on local and seasonal cuisine, we were excited not only to try his dishes, but to ask him why sustainable food is important for him. We had the chance to steal Mr. Meller from the kitchen during one of the days he spent in Budapest. In a short hour we felt like we’ve been transported to a parallel universe: somewhere where food is not simply the fuel of the body that should be bought the cheapest way possible, but the key element of a happy, healthy life – and a happy, healthy society. He’s what we’ve talked about, accompanied with pictures of the meals he served that night.

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Photo: Géza Talabér

How do you like working at River Cottage?

One of the things that attracted me to River Cottage was the ethics and the principles that the company was based on. They were very honest, and the idea behind it was to be respectful to our environment and nature. That was a real attraction.

I think in the early 2000s in the UK, people were beginning to open their eyes to some of the issues surrounding hospitality, the waste we produce in catering, the impact the unsustainable food production has on our landscapes and on our environment. So when River Cottage started to become popular, I think people saw its attitude towards food as a positive thing. River Cottage was trying to get a message out to the people: we don’t have to produce and eat our food in the way that we do! There are alternatives to that. Plus, it was projected in a really simple way so people could understand it. It helped people change their attitudes towards where their food is coming from, how far it has traveled, who has produced it, how it is has been grown. So the knock-on effect was that when people went shopping to buy their ingredients, they thought about River Cottage and what they’ve learnt, and they made more considered choices about the various things they buy and how they cook them. Part of the success was that we managed to translate the idea in a very non-patronizing way, so people didn’t feel like they were instructed.

Some people changed their thinking, and that’s good. Some didn’t, obviously. But as the business and the brand has grown and became more well know, the message has traveled further away.

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Photo: Géza Talabér

I’ve been at River Cottage for 12 years. I’ve learnt nearly everything I know about food and food production while working there. I cooked for many years before that, but my eyes weren’t open to the reality of food. So I’m keen on explaining to people about food – where it comes from, how it was produced – when they’re cooking. It’s particularly important when you’re a chef, because I don’t believe you can fully understand how to really cook good food if you don’t understand everything about the ingredients before they come into the kitchen.

So at the cookery school where I work we try to instill that mentality on the chefs and students who come to their classes. In a funny way, the cooking is the least important part of the story, because anyone can do the last bit – which is putting food in a pan and cooking it. What’s much more interesting is what happened before that. That part is very important for me, and in my own writing and work I try to think about that a lot more. It’s as important as the finished dish.

Salt cod, tomatoes on toast with rosemary and olive oil

Salt cod, tomatoes on toast with rosemary and olive oil Photo: Géza Talabér

River Cottage and I are really big advocates of sustainable food production, sustainable restaurant services, and ethical procurement of ingredients. Right down to how to run the kitchen if you’re a head chef. You need to think about more than just the food on the plate, how much money you make in the restaurant, or what your bonus is at the end of the year. You need to think about everything. You’re responsible for so much more than just good tasting food. You’re responsible for where it comes from.

People look up to chefs. They look for guidance and how things should be done. It’s a responsibility you need to take seriously if you’re in that position. You need to lead by example if you want things to be better in a society that’s quite unsustainable, particularly with food.

A lot depends on educating people. You’ve got to want to embrace this way of thinking and change your methods. Otherwise it won’t happen. You need a new generation of forward thinking foodiez who are interested in going right back to the source.

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Roast pumpkin with wild mushrooms and barley Photo: Géza Talabér

How about restaurants?

There might even be a new generation of chefs who enjoy doing it because they believe it’s a better way of working. Better for the environment, people, and everything else.

In River Cottage we try to minimize all food waste, and try to use every part of every ingredient if possible. If we can’t, it goes to the compost, or to the biomass system to produce energy.

So many parts of hospitality can be looked at to increase its sustainability and minimize its carbon footprint. Everything from the construction of the building, the way the fuel is used for cooking, the way the heat is recycled. Everything can be done better. You just need really ambitious, educated and forward thinking restaurateurs.

Do people in the UK require restaurants to be more sustainable?

I think in the UK it’s more driven by the restaurants themselves. They don’t want to be seen as unsustainable or wasteful because that’s embarrassing. If you’re put into that bracket, than you can be exposed by critics, food writers, and by other chefs. It wouldn’t take long for you to suffer the consequences of having an unsustainable approach to food. There are loads of restaurants in the UK that pride themselves on zero waste, 100% efficiency, brilliant stuff, good staff environment, or no long hours. It’s all about looking after your people that work for you, the environment, and the food in a gentle and normal way. That’s how hospitality should be.

Jerusalem artichokes with, ham and buckwheat

Jerusalem artichokes with, ham and buckwheat Photo: Géza Talabér

What would be the first step toward a more environmentally conscious kitchen?

The first thing to do if you’re interested in changing your approach to cooking in a restaurant kitchen or at home is to try and shop seasonally and locally. The ripple effect of this is so big! You’ll see the results on the local economy, on food miles, and on good farming practices. The food is often much fresher (as it has been grown locally and doesn’t travel far), and nearly always tastes better (because it’s actually in season and it’s become ripe at the right time of the year with the sun and the weather all doing what it should do). So everything tastes better.

We shouldn’t eat things that are grown in another country and flown thousands of miles! We could be eating something that’s been grown locally and feeds into our own economy and helps the farmers and growers who try really hard to make a living. That’s what I try to do anyways.

What we hear sometimes is that ‘I need salad in the winter to be healthy’. It’s hard to explain that your imported tomato grown in a greenhouse in December has less nutrients that a locally grown beet.

I think people are much more aware of what they eat, and they want to be healthy. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t eat seasonally. You should just think a little bit more, try to balance their diet in a sensible way. You look to other forms of plants to get your nutrients from: eat more grains and pulses over the winter months and you’ll be fine.

One of the things we’ve been encouraging much more over the last 5 years is to eat less meat and eat more plant based foods. Not only it is unnecessary and not that healthy to eat meat all the time, but global meat production is completely unsustainable anyway.  And a lot of food grown globally is fed to livestock, and it can’t continue the way it does. So we always encourage people to eat much better, but less meat. When I talked to this restaurant I tried to get them to understand that I was after free range goose for the main course. Which I think we have. I hope.

It’s more expensive to buy ethically raised meat so it’s hard to change people. But if they see the conditions some of these farm animals are raised in they might change their mind.

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Crab soup Photo: Géza Talabér

How about insects, the protein of the future?

I tried grasshopper pate, crunchy crickets and ants. Scaling up meat production isn’t an option, so it’s probably a good idea to start getting used to insects. As a society, if we’re not familiar with a type of food, we don’t like it. But if you take a prawn, it’s exactly like an insect! If you look at the anatomy, honestly, it’s pretty unappetizing stuff. And then if we look at the land based insect, we don’t like it because we’re not used to it. But it won’t take long to change people’s minds.

Do you think people cook more or less nowadays?

I think in the UK people are cooking a lot more, as they are more aware of the problems that come from consuming huge amounts of processed food. By cooking at home you can have a healthier, more rewarding lifestyle. Most of what we eat globally is highly processed wheat and refined sugar. Maybe some highly refined fats and corn. That is pretty much what makes up our diet. It’s just not normal for us to eat like that! It has a huge effect on our health, and in turn it has an effect on the whole of society – public health and its financial side.

And the farmers.

Yes! They suffer directly from it. So we need to change our diets, we need to be cooking more at home, eating less processed foods that contain all kinds of chemical based stabilizers, an God knows what. And we need to go back to how it used to be before the industrialization of food production.

We need to try growing some of our own produce, however small space we have, and cook simple fresh food a few times a week for our family. It will have a knock-on effect if everyone does it. I think if you do make the effort to cook at home – even if it’s very simple – it can taste great because you put the effort in it to make it yourself. You went and bought the ingredients, you thought about how they cook together, you spent time with it. It’s a nice thing to do.

The problem is to inspire people to do that when we live in a so fast, pressured society with relentless schedules. For many people it’s impossible to take the time to cook for themselves and make money at the same time. But whatever small steps help.

You need to care about what you eat. It’s a very difficult challenge.

Smoked goose, celeriac and apples

Smoked goose, celeriac and apples

Before I let you go, let me ask you some personal stuff. What are the three foods you always have in your cupboard?

Rye flower: I like the flavor.

Free range egg from the farm just the corner of our house – so good!

Seasonal vegetables. We have a box delivered every week from an organic farm. It’s nice because you don’t know what you going to have, and it makes you think of new dishes and combinations.

Yoghurt sorbet, plums, brown butter shortbread and poppy seeds

Yoghurt sorbet, plums, brown butter shortbread and poppy seeds Photo: Géza Talabér

Anything you don’t like / you love?

I love really fresh scallops – harvested by divers, of course. I love proper sun-ripen tomatoes with salt and olive oil. I love really good slow cooked pork belly. And I really like a lovely, homemade, proper artisan goat’s cheese.

I don’t like tripe, or anything deeply intestinal. There’s a French sausage called Andouille, which is basically intestines wrapped up in the colon of the pig. Disgusting, but people love it.

I haven’t seen half of the world’s wonderful cuisines. I’m sure I’d find food that I wouldn’t like.

Thank you for your time and good luck for tonight!

If you’re interested in Gill Miller’s recipes, you can order his cookbook on Amazon!

We thank Globalista Konyha for the great dinner,
the opportunity for the interview, and the photos!

28 Oct

Green Lunch

Let’s start with a question. Kids, parents always complain about the canteen menu. It’s not delicious, it’s not healthy, it’s full of flour and it’s full of sugar, bla-bla. Than finally, after leaving school we don’t have to eat in the canteen anymore. We are free to choose something new, something good, but we still end up having our lunch in a chinese and other fast food restaurant, and have the pre-packed sandwiches with a slice of cold boloney for lunch?? Why? Why?

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 Well, the price can be a reason, as everyone wants to save money. Other reason can be the supply and time ratio: who wants to spend their 30 minutes lunch time looking for healthy and delicious food. Also, who wants to cook every evening if it is so easy to stop in a canteen. It’s on every corner!   

I don’t want to criticize anyone, I understand the reasons. But let me introduce a new possibility, with which you can eat a delicious, healthy lunch made from local ingredients without leaving the office or your home! Choose Házikó (Little House) at least 2-3 times a week. (On the other days you may cook… find some sustainable recipes at our facebook page.

At Summer, when the Szabadság-híd (Freedom Bridge) was closed from cars and lots of people were sitting, walking and hanging out there, we had a great picnic at the middle of the bridge and ordered from Háziko a Green Lunch. We tried sandwiches with grilled vegetables and pork and pickled cucumber, pasta salad with vegetables and yoghurt, cream-cottage with melon, fruit salad and the best blueberry-apple salad in the world.

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At Hazikó everything is made just before you eat it, that’s why the salad was crunchy, the bread was crispy and the pork melted in our mouth. In the fruit salad we didn’t find any slice of canned ananas (not as if we really wanted to find one :)). In that very moment we realized that it can be possible to cook a delicious food without lemon peel or palm oil. Of course the menu changes week by week, the selection depends on the season and the produce the farmers can harvest. Like an idyllic and very reasonable world – actually more reasonable than ours, where food travels over oceans and continents.

If you don’t believe it, just taste it yourself! You can see the exact ingredients and the origin of the raw materials on the packaging of every meal. We find names of villages so small even Hungarians have never heard of them. On the label there is a short story about the farmer, who has grown the raw materials. The packaging does not contain any plastic, it is fully biodegradable (recycled paper) and it is delivered to you by bicycle (Cargonomia). 

We were convinced almost that nothing can be more sustainable.

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The only disadvantage is that it is only available for people who want to eat their lunch in V., VI., VII. districts, so if you one of them, you can feel yourself lucky. If you work in a bigger office building located in some other parts of the city, get some colleagues and order together! Házikó delivers almost anywhere, if more lunches are ordered for the same day.

I bet you’re thinking about the price! Yes,it is more expensive than a chinese restaurant, and the canteen of Mariska or uncle Frici is also cheaper, but if you want to live a long and healthy life you have to give Green Lunch a chance (not to mention environmental issues) and you will love them!