Gábor Horváth

“I had to move to Mád. This was my destiny – everything made me do so.
Sometimes it’s no use planning because all the forces act in one direction.
This is what I am feeling now. I am in the right place.”

My passion was playing football all over my childhood. I did not miss or long for anything else than chasing the ball. I was in the first form when I joined the Ferencváros Sports Club (Fradi), it never occurred to me that I could become a professional football player, however, I was considered to be gifted. When I was a teenager I lost my interest in the stuff but not in the game itself. The system developed seemed to be strange for me: you could have a chance to succeed only if your parents had money. I did not like it at all.
I did not have any skill developed except for football. Most football players were engaged in catering, and Fradi maintained good relationships with one of the catering vocational schools, so it was natural that I applied there and I was trained to become a chef. On the day of my entrance exam my father died, so I, along with my younger brother, remained in the care of our mother. I had to grow up early.
Sport had taught me discipline, so I did not find work very burdensome in the kitchen. After leaving school I found employment in the re-opened Grand Hotel Hungaria, which was quite a high-standard place in the mid 1980s. It seemed to me that my bosses had had a high opinion of my capabilities; at the age of 19 I was given a chance to be a manager of an establishment with full kitchen facilities. I was delighted to work there during the first eight years of my carrier and I was pleased with responsibility, however, I was not touched by the creative nature of the job at the time. During the next ten years I worked in the kitchen of several restaurants, and then I got married, soon afterwards I decided to join my wife’s bookkeeping firm. I bid farewell to cuisine. Then came the crisis in my personal life, which ended in divorce and then after eight-year interruption I returned to cooking.

chef

I had to recover and I needed money. It was a tough period in my life; I happened to have three workplaces simultaneously and sometimes I worked for seventy hours without rest. One morning I was called by an old acquaintance of mine asking if I could drive. It turned out that he needed a chef to do cooking for wines. I liked the task; I saw a challenge in it. I was contracted immediately after the test cooking.
As a first step I had to get to know the wines, for this end I and my employers did wine tasting and talked a lot, then I completed a wine appreciation course as well so as to have a better understanding of the processes. The first menu was gradually forming shape. In the beginning we organized only wine dinners, but we had more and more visitors, eventually the owners decided to open the restaurant. Since then four years have rolled by, but the magic of novelty still attracts many visitors. It was exciting to me to explore this world; to get to know the wines, to understand how they age and how I can bring the harmony hidden in them to perfection.
Not far from the restaurant we have a small garden which we are very proud of. There are lots of things to be improved but we can produce almost everything needed for cooking. At present we must bring a number of raw materials from Budapest, however, we can purchase mutton, goat, milk and eggs from local producers. Fish is provided by the Bodrog and Tisza and game by the Zemplén forests. Something has started but the process evolves slowly.
In 2013 I spent six weeks in the capital of gastronomy, in Lyon. Although I had not lacked humility before, I learned there that you could never be humble enough. It was staggering to see what standard the world had reached and it was shocking to realize how far we were from that. Even in thirty years we will not have raw materials of the same quality as the smallest restaurants use there. The Hungarian chefs who remarkably perform in world competitions despite all these drawbacks deserve all our respect. Discipline is of key importance. No matter how tired do I feel when getting home, I do my daily exercises. I take care of myself; I pay attention to mental processes and to everything that occurs inside and around me. This is the only way to control my life. I try to find balance, keep my inner peace and pour forth tranquillity outwards. If you can create such balance, everything will work much better. I’d like to go to bed every night feeling that something good has happened today as well. And I’d like to travel the world and to enjoy tastes, colours and life.