In the service of culinary art

In the service of culinary art
The impossible word is missing from Eszter Palágyi’s dictionary. The country has recently been worried about her health, but fortunately it is already doing well, so much so that it has faced new challenges at this year’s Bocuse d’Or in the home qualifier, from where it advanced to the next round with the second best result. Eszter was prepared for the competition in our kitchen, and as it used to be in a kitchen, we talked to her a little while cooking. Here is the full interview:
Eszter, allow me to congratulate you on your great place at this year’s Bocuse d’Or, which made you the second of the 6 Hungarian chefs! This is a great performance! Thank you very much! I’m sorry for my voice, I’ve been a little tense for the last few days, I haven’t been able to relax yet and I got a cold.
It is very kind of you and I am honored that in the midst of so much to do, we were able to have this conversation, as we know that during a difficult period or too healthy.
Yes, I have talked about this in public and so it is no secret how difficult it was for you. Workload, constant stress and strenuous work pace cannot escape with impunity for many years to come. I don’t want to complain because it was my choice to take my mission – which is to serve the culinary arts – so seriously. You may know that my career at the end of my previous job has come to an end and I am about to switch, but to this day we have remained in good contact with the owners of Costes Restaurant. I’m proud to have been able to work there and to be able to keep the Michelin star for years as well. For the past year, however, my body has made me feel like it’s time to focus a little on myself and my health as well. I’ve spent six exciting years there, full of lots of experiences, and for the last four years I’ve been taking the kitchen alone without a sous chef. This condition started to get a little stressful for me as I chose a track where I have to work hard to meet the standards that guests expect every day. They are the most important. With this motto, every chef and waitress should start their working day, which I think many forget.
Although you wear the star chef token very modestly, it is still one of the most popular personalities in the territory of Hungarian gastronomy. How do you see this success? How did you get there?
I think I’m a person who constantly likes to compete and test myself in multiple areas.I love high standards and I love to jump on these challenges. Whether it’s OMW breakfast sandwiches or the most upscale gourmet dish, I love being home everywhere and I love the wide range of palettes and room for maneuver within the profession.
Is that why you also started in this year’s Bocuse d’Or race?
This experience has even been missing from my life and my health is okay fortunately so I cut in, but my new job, Matild Palace, also supports my ideas. I have longed for this freedom and for a free hand in everything. Even in the kitchen design, my opinion mattered, not just in the equipment and it’s a good feeling.
You’ve already told me that fine dining is as much a source of joy for you as casual cooking in the form of a simple stew. But we wonder if the reverse is true. Do you dare to cook for your loved ones in your friends and family?
Oh, I’m a very grateful audience and I’m happy if I don’t have to cook. Sometimes there is nothing tastier than a bun in parisham if someone else serves it in front of me.
Why is Matild Palace attractive to you as a new challenge? What inspired the shift besides the above?
It will also be a fine dining place, but I will definitely “matildos”. I have a lot of ideas that will make each dish unique and a real experience center for the guests through the delicacies of our show confectionery to the breathtaking panorama of the sky bar and from the breakfast cottage cheese bag to the sturgeon. I am looking forward to the first working day, we will try to satisfy all needs with my also enthusiastic colleagues.
Readers of the Coninvest newsletter will be very happy about this, as it is always refreshing to have someone so dedicated to their work. How did you contact the company?
I contacted them in May and almost immediately a direct, friendly relationship developed between us, Mirjam Kertész, the managing director of the company and her staff. They were so kind that I could spend the time preparing for the competition with them, because of their professional kitchen equipment I had a real experience cooking every day. Which I think her colleagues were quite happy with, as I often served lunch for them.
Let’s face it, few are lucky enough to have a star chef make lunch on a regular working Tuesday! We’ll ask if they might have a job offer, surely many would apply now too!
I also hope this wasn’t my last cooking in their kitchen!
Thank you very much for the conversation and we will be very pushy for the next competition on February 5th and in 2020 in Tallinn as well! So be it, thank you so much for the interview.


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