Desserts can rightfully take the spotlight, even in a Michelin-starred setting — especially when they are made by people such an expert and full of humility and love as Anett Béres, the dessert chef at Borkonyha. Desszert Műhely, which is only open until the end of August, has become a must-visit spot in the city for anyone who wants to discover what it is like when pastries bring Heaven to Earth.
Not so long ago I received a message from a friend, who is a pastry chef himself. We started chatting and I was curious to get his opinion—we all see the domestic pastry scene evolving, but who is the best in town? Who is the one not “just” making high-quality desserts, but creating surprising combinations, diverse textures, and perfect harmonies, while putting heart and soul into it? The answer was “Anett Béres. Borkonyha.” —and I immediately started writing a message to the restaurant.
Borkonyha opened its doors more than ten years ago, in 2010, on Sas Street. The name (“Wine Kitchen”) says it all—in addition to the two hundred types of wine, mostly of Hungarian origin, the aim was to present noble ingredients and rich flavors as well as premium kitchen technology, for which the owners asked Ákos Sárközi, to be the chef de cuisine. The collaboration proved to be a huge success, in 2014 they were awarded their first Michelin star which they have held ever since. In 2018, they opened their sister restaurant Textúra, which offers a more relaxed, friendly atmosphere and dishes made from local ingredients.
The pandemic, however, had a devastating effect on them as well as on everyone else, as foreign guests disappeared and Hungarian demand dropped significantly, forcing them to close. But the creative energies did not cease, in fact, they only intensified after the panic of the forced pause. Anett Béres has been with the team for four and a half years as a pastry chef. She fell in love with the French language and culture as a child, and after graduating from high school, she started a career in economics in line with family tradition, but could not find her place. Under difficult circumstances, she decided to make a change and left the university to work as a kitchen assistant in an Asian restaurant. She stood in the heat for days, soaking up the cacophony of smells and sounds, keeping up the pace, and just baking, baking, and baking at home. On a sudden impulse, she asked the manager of the Cake Shop if she could work in the bakery. She got a positive response, so this is where she started to explore the more practical side of pastry making. This was followed by further places and constant self-directed learning until, with the help of a friend, she joined Borkonyha as an unpaid trainee. She wanted to be there, to see, feel and know everything that is connected to fine dining, and to discover the school of excellence that top confectionary means. Her six-month dedication was finally rewarded with a phone call when she was asked to be the pastry chef of the restaurant.
The way a professional kitchen works is quite unique. With the incredible pace of work, every last crumb has to be at the right place, you can ask questions, you can experiment, but you cannot make mistakes. Anett’s previous experience has enabled her to hold her ground, she was able to harness her psychological sensitivity and pragmatic zeal, and the world of dessert plates has given her a real playground, finally being able to make creative compositions with a wide variety of ingredients that would be more difficult to work with in a classic pastry counter. With the closure, however, that experience was gone too. But the appetite for action remained and they began to cooperate with the Édes Város team in innovative ways, creating a variety of cakes for delivery. The project was an almost immediate success (later followed by other premium restaurants) but still reached a relatively narrow audience. The restaurant stood empty and when it was possible to open, the idea was born: Textúra would continue to operate as before, but the Borkonyha would become the Desszert Műhely for this summer.
It is almost impossible not to like the idea. Besides making haute cuisine (high gastronomy—ed.) more accessible to more people, as a cake costs much less than a tasting menu, desserts also step out of the shadows and, instead of being the finishing touch to dinner, they get the spotlight they deserve. The deep knowledge and playful experimentation that characterizes Anett is also noticeable on the menu while offering something for as many customers as possible. You will find reinvented classics, but also unconventional flavors such as smoky, underrated ingredients and unusual shapes too. A myriad of ingredients is packed into a single monodessert, and tasting them, gives the same experience as a plated dessert.
The Irishman for example has developed a masculine character, with rich flavors of Guinness beer, dark chocolate, vanilla, and caramel. As a feminine counterpart, we can mention the Tütü, which features Ruby chocolate, strawberry, and guava in a variety of textures. Pisztácia bonsai is the most popular dessert, and for good reason—like in a florarium, it is piled high with organic shapes, the brown buttery linzer base, sponge cake, salty pistachio crumbs and egg-shaped green tea pistachio mousse with passion fruit jelly in the middle. But we could also write poems about the Mákos guba, which takes three whole days to make, as the homemade cake is dried, then baked into a poppy seed cake, shaped, filled with vanilla custard, set on a poppy seed oil sponge cake, surrounded with vanilla mousse and meringue, and even decorated with cinnamon plum jam. If you’re looking for a vegan or dairy-free cake, you won’t be disappointed either: the Delirium has a puffed buckwheat layer on top of dairy-free peanut butter pastry cream and whiskey chocolate ganache, while the Mille-feuille doesn’t even have butter folded into the pastry base, but soya milk, peanut oil, and cocoa butter.
If you want to try a pastry with a new surprise in every bite, visit the Borkonyha while you have a chance—the summer opening is expected to close with a special dessert dinner where cakes will step outside their usual definitions. For more stories, follow Anett’s Instagram page, where you’ll be enchanted not only by the flavors but also by the spirit behind them.
Photos: Fekete Antonio Designfood