Poland at the Gourmet Festival

The Gourmet Festival is a large-scale open air event. There were over 100 exhibitors from the Hungarian gastronomy sector presenting their offer in the gigantic Millenáris Park. Among them were the restaurants from Budapest and other cities, the wine-makers, the gastronomic concepts, the press and the sponsors. The concept of the festival is fantastic and it is based on the restaurants serving discovery menu-like small portions of their best dishes. At the stands you can meet the restaurant chefs and among them even culinary stars. Wandering around the festival area with a glass in hand, you can also test excellent Hungarian wines. And all that over 4 lovely days in May.
Apart from the sensory encounter with the Hungarian delicacies, the festival also deals with the the merits of the culinary matter. Every hour, at the main stage there were culinary shows and lectures. We also had a say in one of them. Mateusz Wichrowski, the chef of Brasserie Warszawska, was a special guest of the Gourmet Festival, taking part at the invitation of the Polish Institute Budapest and the Polish Embassy Bupadest. Arm in arm with one of the most talented Hungarian young chefs, Ádám Pohner (famous for being the chef at an excellent bistro Olimpia in Budapest), he took part in “Dwa bratanki” (Eng. “Two Good Friends”) cooking show. Together they tried to introduce the idea of the modern Polish cuisine to the Hungarian public. The show was moderated by the celebrities from the Hungarian culinary blogosphere – Zsófie Mautner (Chili&Vanilia) and  András Jókuti (Világevő), who visited Warsaw in 2014 as part of a study visit organised by the Polish Institute in Budapest.
With great enthusiasm, they both underlined the revolutionary transformation of the restaurant scene in Poland: -From rich breakfast offer, through food markets and street food to top restaurants, the Warsaw culinary world has a lot to give. The young chefs, who often return home with professional experience gained in the Western Europe,  re-interpret with refinement the traditional recipes using local products.
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The co-operation of Mateusz and Ádám was an idea of Tamás Pellerdi, a Hungarian living in Warsaw, who as a promoter of the Hungarian cuisine in Poland, decided to also get involved in popularising the Polish food in Hungary.
– Although we are just one hour by plane from each other, Poland remains unknown for the Hungarians. Totally unrecognised. This is why we felt that the presentation of the modern Polish cuisine makes much sense. I believe that Hungarians will fall in love with the Polish mushrooms, fish, vegetables and fruits and the matured beef. We wanted to make a reference to the popular proverb “Pole and Hungarian, two good friends” and transfer this subconscious fellow feeling of both nations to the culinary field. And I guess it worked well. After our show, several people, including chefs, told me that they were going to visit Poland. This means that we achieved our goal.
– We visited Gourmet Festival with Daniel Pawełek already two years ago, and we really liked the idea of the festival where the starred restaurants open up for the public and become more accessible – Mateusz Wichrowski adds. – I am happy that this year we had a chance to add something from ourselves. During the show we presented a fine-dine version of the classic Polish dish – pierogi – as well as the whole range of other typically Polish products. Pierogi were stuffed with cottage cheese and served with veal cheeks slowly braised in Bison grass  and three versions of apples: puree, caramelised and fresh. Ádám Pohner has previously been to Warsaw where we took him around the most interesting restaurants so that he could form his own opinion about our gastronomy today. Now we have met again to cook the Polish dishes together on the stage. And I have a feeling that this is not our last meeting – Mateusz concludes.
We feel the same. And we are also sure that we will be coming back to Budapest soon to taste the fabulous Hungarian wines again, to eat Mangalica sausages and visit several places that whetted our appetite during the Gourmet Festival.
Text: USTA Magazine, photos: Jarosław Bajaczyk (Polish Institute Budapest) and András Zoltai
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