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Swiss chef Joel Khalil and Hungarian desserts
Despite of his young age, Joel Khalil, new executive chef of Hotel Corinthia Budapest, has worked all around the world from Asia to London, from Switzerland to Macau. He likes traditional Hungarian food very and desserts.
Enikő M. Tóth
Best of Budapest online | March 9, 2011

After so many years of travelling, why have you chosen Hungary?

Before I applied, I had a short visit to Corinthia Hotel Budapest. I fell in love with it immediately. The city is nice as well.

Most of your workplaces were hotels. Why?

I also worked for restaurants, but I wanted to travel round and see different places and in a hotel-chain, you have many opportunities to do this. Also, in Hungary, there’s always a challenge to make a hotel charming and inviting for people who are not too likely to eat out in a hotel. And I like challenges.

How would you describe Magyar cuisine? We, Hungarians call it heavy and hot.

Well, not so hot, clearly. A lot of spice is used, but compared to chili, paprika is n
ot so hot. Hungarian cuisine is very traditional with stews and soups which can be heavy. My favorites are the Hungarian desserts, for example Esterházy cake. They are very traditional as well. As a qualified confectioner I must say they could do with a little update sometimes.

When we first think of Switzerland, one of the things that first come into mind is chocolate. What is the secret of Swiss chocolate?

Cocoa does not come from Europe, but the firsts, who started to produce it were Europeans, and Switzerland has a very old tradition. The milk quality helps a lot too. Switzerland is the biggest consumer per capita of chocolate in the world. They know what a good chocolate is. Companies want to produce good chocolate for those who like it, so it is evolving all the time. I love chocolate. For some reason, when I’m to create a new a dessert, the first thing, I think of is chocolate.

Is there food we can call originally Swiss?

Indeed, there is Swiss food. It has a lot to do with cheese. Every region has its famous cheese and different type of traditional dishes. Some are closer to the Italian style or the French and the German style.