In our latest weekly series, we’ll focus on the players of Hungarian gastronomy. In the first episode, our readers can meet five people for whom hospitality is more of a mission that an empty concept – they approach their trade with passion and humbleness, all in their unique ways. Some are inspired by tea, while others stole the hearts of their guests, including us, with their homely and exciting pottages. The joint campaign of Piqniq Budapest and Mastercard.
Zhao Zhou – Gábor Tálos
Gábor Tálos started to explore the Far East more than thirty years ago, in the course of his studies. Conveying the traditions of tea and the knowledge piled up over thousands of years became his mission. He decided he also wanted to show its values here, in Hungary. He believes that tea and the philosophy surrounding it, calmness and enjoyment can offer more than what we know from our everyday life. He does not only bring the best teas to Hungary, he also keeps learning and looking for inspiration so that he can present and convey the art of tea in the premium quality, having the widest knowledge possible.
“For high quality hospitality you need to see the human in the other. If this takes place both on a team and a guest level, then you have a connection, and everyone will feel that they belong, and will handle things differently.”
Grumpy – Szilvia Ispán „Sziszi”
Many people know Sziszi (Szilvia Ispán) from Menza in Liszt Ferenc tér, Budapest, where she worked for sixteen years, which was preceded by additional seven challenging years spent in nautical hospitality. She launched her own business, Grumpy braced with the experience and knowledge gained in this period, drawing on the continuous feeling of missing something.
She contemplated opening Grumpy for three years, and finally opened in October 2019. “I worked at Menza with all of my heart, but this is the place where I truly feel like myself; here it’s as if you came to me, right into my home” – she says. She has one goal only, to make every guest leave satisfied, and she is not afraid to show herself to do that: she is present both in the kitchen and her career with her whole personality.
Freyja – Gergő Markovics, Péter Dormán
Freyja has become a phenomenon in Budapest over a few years, and even though according to Gergő Markovics and Peti Dormán, it would operate without them smoothly, the quality product and the atmosphere of the place comes from them. With the premium quality croissants they not only managed to attract masses of people to their store, but also influenced the Hungarian bakery product selection. The guests didn’t abandon them either when they were forced to close the store and do home deliveries instead. Fandom transformed into support, and people who never got to Szövetség utca before started to eat croissants, too.
“If you pay attention to your audience, you will survive no matter where you are.”
Hokedli – Bori Sinkó
Bori Sinkó came into the hospitality business with the Kétker-Étkem delivery. She launched Hokedli after a lot of financial planning and mentor programs. While she is driven by her heart and brings CSR into the business, too, similarly to Sziszi Ispán, she stands with two feet on the ground and thinks ahead. This is how she came up with a delivery system for Hokedli in only two days, and how the pottage bar had its own pandemic strategy when it was needed. She also shared the latter with others, as Bori believes in the power of relationship capital, may it be about suppliers or cooperation between entrepreneurs.
“It’s very important to pay attention to your customers and know what they are looking for – as you’d like to make them happy and be your guests!” – this is what Bori keeps in mind to this day. She loves to experiment, but she know she’s not cooking for herself only. If the guests like vegetarian dishes, she develops in the field, but she also thinks of those who need meat next to their veggies. This is the kind of humbleness you can never ever give up, according to Bori.
Espresso Embassy – Szilárd Gréczi
Szilárd Gréczi is the manager of Espresso Embassy, one of the oldest specialty cafés in Budapest. Before he started working as a barista here in 2014, he worked in several cafés, and experienced many types of working environments and business philosophies. After the many positive and negative experiences gained during his work in coffeehouses, he really found himself and the atmosphere that helps him bring out the best of himself as a manager, too, in Espresso Embassy.
“A happy customer requires balanced employees.”
For him, the team and the guest experience are the most important. Szilárd firmly believes that a happy customer requires balanced employees. So that he can create this unity, he does not only rely on his own personality and the experiences of the past years: he also reads a lot about organisational development, studies materials on motivational trainings and also seeks support from a coach. He regularly checks the other cafés, analyses typical mistakes and good practices, and also incorporates the conclusions into the life of Espresso Embassy.
In their joint campaign, Piqniq Budapest and Mastercard present the figures of Hungarian gastronomy businesses through 25 topics: hospitality workers, professionals, suppliers and experts related to the field share their experiences in an authentic manner. Come and get to know them more in our weekly series!