The devastating time of the pandemic made people working in hospitality hopeless. Just a few of them has revolutionary ideas during an era like this. One of them is Anett Béres, the leading confectioner of Borkonyha, who started a new chapter of the Michelin-star rated Borkonyha’s history in 2020. The fine dining restaurant in Sas utca, Budapest is operating now as Borkonyha Pastry, while Textúra, opened in 2018 by the same owners, is available as a restaurant just a few steps away. We were curious about the story of this extraordinary decision – Zoltán Kalocsai (owner) and Anett Béres (confectioner) answered all of our questions.
Best of Budapest & Hungary: You may have surprised a lot of people with your decision to keep Borkonyha closed as a restaurant till September, and open it as a Pastry Shop, while another restaurant of yours, Textúra is still open.
Zoltán Kalocsai: We chose Textúra for the reopening because it’s a bigger place, so if any restrictions are required – to determine the distance between tables for example – we can be more flexible with space there. This was one of the reasons, while it’s also important to say that the two restaurants have been running separately for years now. Borkonyha was preferred by foreign guests as they are interested in the Michelin star rating. This created very long lead times for reservations. Hungarian guests were always Textúra’s main clientele .
How did the story of Borkonyha Pastry start?
Anett Béres: Of course, everything started with the pandemic. I have a passionate personality and I’m always ready to overload myself with work, so I was close to a total burnout when the pandemic began. In contradiction to many others, I was lucky to have a little break, but after a couple of weeks I began to miss my work, the odors and the daily routine, so I was baking cakes constantly at home with my boyfriend, who is a confectioner, too. I knew the founders of Édes Város (Sweet City in English), a website for online orders, featuring professional pastries. There were no restaurants among them – yet. It popped up in my mind that maybe we could show up there with some cakes. We created our 5-piece assortment of cakes for Édes Város and started to produce them during the Mother’s Day-weekend last year. It was a great way to get our cakes well-known very quickly, so there was no question that we should continue and develop this project when the second wave of the pandemic began.
Your name is now inseparable from your Michelin-star. What kind of expectations do customers have when they enter Borkonyha Pastry because of this?
Anett Béres: I think Michelin-star restaurants and the whole fine dining culture represents something different in the world of confectionary as well. In general, when people go to a pastry shop, they await the traditional tastes and sweets, however, if they come here, they may be more open for special ingredients – e.g. vegetables – or tastes they haven’t tried before. We can be more flexible in experimenting, while the technology and the quality remain always spotless.
Zoltán Kalocsai: What we are interested in most is to stick to the highest quality ingredients, whether it’s a classical dessert or an own creation. We refuse any kind of compromise. This is why our prices are a bit higher than in a classical pastry shop, but we guarantee that every bit provides the best for our customers.
When you say “best” what are you referring to?
Zoltán Kalocsai: Firstly, I refer to the ingredients we use. For example there are wide price gaps between the different species of hazelnuts, but we always use Piemonte hazelnuts. These can be three times more expensive than simple hazelnuts, but only Piemonte hazelnuts have that kind of special flavor we want to use in our deserts. Or, I could mention our 100% fruit purées we use for our lemonades. We also work with different kinds of premium chocolates, ???like blonde chocolate, ruby, white or the varieties of dark chocolate.
You keep different styles of desserts on each shelf.
Zoltán Kalocsai: The “Fantastic Four” is the collection of our very own creations. We have a Hungarian series, containing some traditional Hungarian desserts. We have our four gluten free creations and also have four vegan sweets. The latter was especially Anett’s idea, as she saw how popular the vegan sweets are in the world.
Describe the process of creating something really new and unique in Borkonyha Pastry?
Anett Béres: The desserts are mainly my creations, while my well-educated team supports me in every step of the creation. We try a lot of experiments, sometimes with quick success, sometimes a lot of time is needed to finalize a recipe. We are not afraid of taking a new path, and because generally our profile is plated desserts, which is a very diverse genre in confectionary, we are able to provide techniques and ingredients that are new to people in a traditional dessert. This brings an exciting concept and visuality to our creations. There are many aspects we must consider during our experiments. We always have to keep one well-known dessert in every collection, which is easy for everyone to recognize and understand. This is why we have the traditional Hungarian desserts, of course with twists making them special. Or we have Tütü for example, which seems to be an extraordinary piece with its look, however, its main ingredient is nothing special, just strawberry – children like it very much, too, because of it’s decoration.
After life slowly turns back to normal, the next 2-3 months seem to have greaterimportance in everyone’s life in the hospitality industry. What are your expectations and experiences now that you are open again?
Zoltán Kalocsai: We really want to close our painful past and focus on this new chapter, and handle it as an exciting problem to solve. We have our team, Ákos Sárközi leads the chefs in Textúra, and if someone wants to enjoy the menu of Borkonyha, this one is also available in Textúra. We really want to collect our 60 people for the Borkonyha reopening in September, we will be awaiting Hungarian guests and foreigners as well. Before the pandemic, Borkonyha was always full, independently from the weather or the exact date. Now, we have to accept that currently our booking results can’t be as balanced as they used to be before the pandemic.
As I remember, Borkonyha was always full six weeks ahead – especially on weekends.
Zoltán Kalocsai: Yes, but we had to leave these experiences behind, and focus on the new situation. People seem to like the strategy we have been using for years now, so we didn’t really make any big changes. Textúra continues to represent that informal, easy-going fine dining bistro world, as it did in the past, and we still have the differences between the dishes in the two restaurants. People who book table in Textúra for the Borkonyha menu, can still see these differences.
A last question for Anett: was it always your dream to become a confectioner one day?
Anett Béres: Not at all. I studied economics in university, and was working on an essay for a marketing course about a French jam brand. This was the moment I started to discover some French gastro blogs about the top of French confectionary. I started to bake at home and finally changed my profile, even if I had some fights with my family because of my choice.
You became successful in a short time. What are your plans for the near future?
Anett Béres: There was a time when I was dreaming about my own patisserie, however, I’ve been working in Borkonyha 4 years now, and I fell in love with plated desserts. This is a much more flexible genre like traditional desserts. Just to mention one example, it’s possible to collect different temperatures and textures on a plate when you create a plated dessert, which is impossible in a cake. So now my main goal is to deepen my skills in as many fields of confectionary as is possible. I’m just starting to lead the patisserie of Textúra, too, and I have no doubt that this will be an exciting new challenge as well.