Deer bresaola Wild boar salami

Rebirth of the Hungarian Gastronomy

By taking a look at the timeline of a country’s culinary habits, the history of the nation reflects its gastronomy. Food habits change with time as they are influenced by the political situation and economy, the religion and mentality of its people; this also works vice-versa. A country’s gastronomy is a key influential factor. It is intertwines the language, politics and unique traditions that build up the identity of a nation as a whole. In other words, they represent the country’s national identity which allows its people to develop a sense of belonging.

Having faced drastic political changes, Hungarians truly understand the value of gastronomy and the way a governing party is capable of influencing the nation’s food habits. During Socialism, Hungary’s culinary arts were declining in terms of value and importance for the Hungarian people.  Slowly the country’s identity within the gastronomic map was fading away. Tamás B. Molnár , a Hungarian chef, noticed the damage the political situation was causing to the nation’s identity.  In the year 2000, Tamás wrote various gastronomic articles criticizing the ongoing issues and the apparent problems the country was facing. Through hard work and perseverance, he was able to impact upon the country’s culinary identity that has been silenced for many years. Despite the overwhelming criticisms, Tamás’ voice echoed through the nation inspiring more young chefs to join and support his work.  This resulted in the catalyst that caused a revolution and revitalization within the Hungarian gastronomy.

A great amount of work was invested to change the negative attitude of Hungarian chefs towards the quality of raw materials and the value of fresh ingredients. It was equally difficult to change the mentality of Hungarian chefs towards food preparation, presentation and management.  In 2003, Tamás established the Magyar Gasztronomia Egyesület (Hungarian Gastronomy Association) which united the top chef’s in the country. Till this day, the Association’s major goals are to safeguard the Hungarian culinary traditions and to educate young graduate chefs to honor the traditional cultural values.

Within the following years Hungary’s culinary skill evolved at a very rapid pace. In 2016, Hungary won the opportunity to host the Bocus d’Or Europe in Budapest which involves the continental selection of the world’s most famous international gastronomy tournament. This led to a positive progression for Hungarians in the modern gastronomy world; it symbolized innovation, national attention, opportunities for progression and gastro-tourism for the country.  Much to their surprise, the Hungarian team led by Chef Tamás Széll won first place in the Bocuse d’Or Europe tournament in Budapest. This award led the team all the way to Lyon in January 2017 accompanied by 300 Hungarian supporters to compete in the international finale. Széll’s team won 4th place and two additional prizes were given to the Hungarian chefs; the People’s Choice Award for the best promotional poster and a special prize for the best meat plate.  

Why was this a factor in the development of Hungarian gastronomy?  Its importance lies within the gastro-tourism. A global gastronomy award brings the Hungarian culinary arts into the limelight and enables foreign cultures to discover what its national cuisine has to offer. For instance, people will travel across countries to eat at Tamás Széll’s kitchen in the Michelin-star Onyx restaurant in Budapest. On a Nationwide scale, it increases the interest of young Hungarians towards the culinary arts which in return helps to produce more chefs and resources for education and chef training. 

As it was mentioned a couple of times already in this article, it is necessary to describe the most prestigious international culinary competition in the world.  Bocuse d’Or is an international tournament that takes place every two years in France. As a sports team represents a country during an international sports event, the competing chefs symbolize the culinary habits and traditions of their country during the global gastronomy competition. This makes it one of the most famous and prestigious of competitions. The winner represents the best country in terms of international culinary arts. Since 1987, the purpose of the Bocuse d’Or is to highlight young talents and to introduce new creative ideas into the world of gastronomy. It promotes creativity, modeling and shaping the culinary arts at an international level.  The candidate teams practice for months to be able to prepare their dish with efficiency and work towards perfecting it each time.

The continental selection (Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America) has to be earned to qualify for the global finale. The competing chefs have 5 hours and 35 minutes to prepare a recipe that represents a special theme selected for that year. The team’s sustainability, hygiene, presentation of the plating, creativity and flavors are analyzed during the competition. Every second counts, therefore finishing in the allotted time is very important as any overtime result in loss of points. The presentation must be exclusive; the taste has to represent the country’s gastronomy and unique flavors. The teams are free to prepare the dish as they decide, but each team has to work with the same ingredients and raw material within the same amount of time.

During this year’s finale in Lyon, the chefs were challenged to prepare two different dishes. The first was a vegan dish which was to represent the ongoing gastronomic trend leaning towards healthier foods and vegetables. The second was a meat dish using Bresse chicken and shellfish, a variant of the famous chicken and crayfish Lyon recipe to symbolize the French identity. The Bresse chicken is a type of free-range poultry from the French region Bresse; it is hormone-free and corn fed that gives the meat more intensive flavors and allows it to retain less amount of water. Additional raw materials for the dish included top quality meat, fresh fish and 104 different kinds of herbs. To bring out most of the Hungarian elements in flavor, Tamás Széll and team used Tokai Aszú and Furmint wines, Tokai vinegar, Hungarian paprika, truffle, duck liver and wildboar ham for the dishes.  Hungary’s meat dish Hungarian Winter together with the vegan plate Under the Forest brought the team to the fourth place out of 24 competing countries, the winner being USA followed by Sweden and Iceland. This accomplishment allowed Hungary to mark its place on the gastronomy map of Europe.

The evolving values of Hungarian gastronomy are apparent within our company values. Our team at Venison Gusto serves an important role to represent the Hungarian gastronomy through its products of artisan charcuterie. Working on an international-level and providing costumers throughout Europe, Hungarians are increasingly aware of the importance of distributing top quality healthy and free-range meat to satisfy Hungarian and other European clients.  In order to bring a greater level of satisfaction, we like to provide the best of service to consumers of different meat requirements such as through kosher style products.  Kosher style foods are pork-free smoked meat products seasoned with salt, white pepper and pink peppercorn. Religious costumers and clients with specific meat preferences are the top consumers for these products. Six different kosher style charcuterie products are available from our company. These smoked meat products are made from wild deer, water buffalo and Hungarian grey cattle that are available in ham, salami seasoned with paprika and spice. Our company offers spicy deer salamis and grey cattle and water buffalo salamis for costumers that prefer non-spicy products. We add water buffalo to allow our kosher-style salami products to decrease the dryness and give it a favorable texture.  To see our entire collection of Kosher-style products, check out our website at Our Products section in the menu under No Pork Salamis.