WeLoveBudapest has had an interview with Krisztián Huszár, the chef, and János Deli, the manager of Mák Bisztro. Read more about how they met and became partners in the ‘Restaurant of the Year”. They don’t understand how other restaurants can work with menus. Get the answers why.
“Either menu or quality”
We Love Budapest: Dining Guide has listed Mák Bisztro in the top 10 restaurants of Hungary. Congratulations! How did you take this recognition? What are your plans for the next year?
We were very pleased with the results, thank you very much. We are not planning anything extra for the next years, but our main aim is to run a restaurant, where the kitchen and the waiters can cooperate smoothly and steadily, and the place can cope with other restaurants internationally. We think the wine section might need some reinforcement. You can taste around a hundred different types of wines, but most of them are from abroad. We don’t see any competitors, since we represent a different style and an easier approach. We are the only rivals of ourselves and we just do our best.
WLB: Your restaurant is described as a ‘monarchy-contemporary-fusion’-kind on your home page. What does it actually mean?
MÁK: This is only partly true, it is rather international, since beside the Hungarian dishes there is a strong Basque, Spanish, French and Italian influence. I would highlight that our kitchen depends mainly on some basic ingredients and the time of the year. We give ‘old-time’ dishes a new look and a new taste, so guests will find a familiar meal in a brand new coat. That is the contemporary part.
WLB: Where do you usually get the basic ingredients? How do you keep touch with the producers? Are they open towards new ideas?
MÁK: Luckily, producers are getting to be more and more open-minded nowadays. We have our own bio-farm around Vecsés and Monor villages. The producer found us and he provides prime quality ingredients without any unpleasant surprises. We usually buy ‘mini’ lettuce, iceberg lettuce, ‘baby’ zucchini, and some other fresh ingredients from him. We found a mushroom provider but mushroom production depends a lot on the weather. We are quite strict, we only take the best quality ingredients over. You will not find a menu in our restaurant; we don’t understand how other places can manage with menus. We provide quality rather than menus. We always plan the dishes the night before, but meals depend on the quality of the ingredients arriving in the morning. If products are not satisfying completely for the dishes, we re-plan our daily menu.
Summer favorites are chanterelle, boletus, marasmius, peas, tomatoes, and butter bean. Our guests prefer light soups, fish, fish and fish, since meat makes our stomachs heavy during summertime. Mangalica is very popular among our guests, they usually go wild for the pig’s ear. As you have seen in Budai Gourmet festival, the all-time favorite is calf’s foot. From Tuesday to Thursday, we buy fish right from the market. Other types of meat – except mangalica – are not always the best ingredients, since the feeding and breeding conditions are very different in Hungary. We order prime quality meat from butchers in the USA, Austria, and Germany.
WLB: What kind of international experience do you have? Where did you meet?
Four years ago, I spent a month, and later another six in a 3-Michelin starred restaurant in San Sebastian. I have learnt a lot about preparing fish and some new techniques there. The attitude and the eating habits of Basque guests are completely different from Hungarians, but luckily, ‘restaurant-goers’ are becoming more accepting and curious here as well. Spanish chefs are my idols since then, for example Juan Mari Arzak. I try to improve my knowledge and techniques, I love experimenting and searching for new methods.
János Deli: I worked in Heston Blumenthal restaurant in England for one and a half year. I was also a restaurant manager in four or five different places around London. I gained a lot of experience in connection with managing places, the guests, and the kitchen. I worked with Krisztián in Csalogány 26 restaurant, so we have known each other from there. Because of some fortunate constellation, we are able to work together here as well. We build our project together, and we are very constructive in order to provide a perfect place that represents Krisztián’s efforts completely.
WLB: Why would you recommend people to visit Mák?
MÁK: I’d say, people should come here and have a look at the newest concepts of a modern restaurant. We provide prime quality and experience. European visitors should also check out the place and leave the country with some special experience of food. We will do our best!