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Bread with benefits – welcome to Budapest’s latest bakery, VAJ

VAJ opened on the corner of József körút and Rákóczi tér in late 2020. This attractively spacious venue is primarily a bakery, but it also serves as a café and breakfast place, and is planning to become a prominent brunch spot once restrictions ease. But that’s not all – VAJ also comprises a deli section with all sorts of fine products, spices, teas and coffees, with a wide range of confectionery, too.

Brothers Áron and Kristóf Markó, together with their friend Zoltán Faisztl, had been dreaming of a joint venture for some time. The idea of hospitality was once completely dismissed by the team, but they changed their mind later thanks to Kristóf.


They discovered the perfect location – the goal was to set up somewhere large enough to accommodate a baking area and a kitchen comfortably. Soon after they bought the place, they started to design the interior and undertake the building process – and that’s when the pandemic hit.

Ironically, the crisis came in handy for them in some respects, as it enabled them to build at their own pace – on the other hand, it also delayed many of the initial steps of settling in. Two months after they opened however, we can safely say that the bakery is now working at full speed, driven by a young, international crew.

Though the majority of the team is Hungarian, a French colleague takes care of the confectionery, while they also have a Portuguese and a Serbian chef on board. Their backgrounds vary, too, with degrees ranging from political science to economy – all who work here want to develop and learn something new, something different from their previous experience.


Kristóf is the head of gastronomy, and the bakery's engine. He began his culinary journey like the great masters of the past – travelling and learning abroad.

Just like him, his colleagues are highly professional and successful in what they do as well – there’s even a Michelin-starred chef among the crew.


After working at Budapest's Alabárdos restaurant for 18 months, Kristóf spent four years in Switzerland. Then he made his way to Paris, where he stayed for two years. He had the good fortune of working at Michelin-rated restaurants in both countries. 

Returning home, he wanted to explore other opportunities as well – one thing followed the other, and soon he was taking the first steps to creating VAJ with his brother and a friend.

As bakery’s name suggests (VAJ, ‘BUTTER’), there’s a lot of it used at the bakery – it’s a central element in most of their products. This name also works because it’s short and simple, so it’s easy to keep in mind, even if you don’t speak Hungarian.


They source as many ingredients as possible from local producers – such as milk and free-range eggs – but butter, for one, is better abroad, so it’s shipped in from places like Normandy and the Netherlands. Flour is also mainly sourced from outside Hungary. Any of the ingredients they use can also be found in the deli section, available for purchase.

Part of the concept was to ensure that the products at the counter and the raw ingredients were of the highest quality. This means that while prices are a bit higher here than at usual bakeries, there are always high-standard, with satisfying and filling treats available.

VAJ is open six days a week from 7am, and Sundays from 9am – they start baking at 4am so that customers arrive to the smell of freshly baked goodies in the morning.

They will fire up the kitchen and offer brunch dishes once restrictions allow, while in the evenings there will be craft beers and mixed drinks, with sandwiches. The range of confectionery will also be increased.

Cimkék

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