It is such a pleasure to experience that there are more & more Hungarian chefs and culinary artists, who not only spoil guests and worldwide audience with their authentic and innovative creations, but they are also on a mission. Their ultimate goal – beside to do a perfect job as recognized chefs – is to show what potential Hungarian cuisine really has. Long forgotten traditional Hungarian ingredients are en vogue again and family dishes from Nagyi’s handwritten recipe books celebrate their revivals. This is a refreshing ‘back-to-the-roots’ trend and at the same time it is a Hungarian culinary evolution, too, by finding new and creative ways in terms of food preparation and presentation.
One of the excellent Hungarian chefs, who considers his job as a mission is Viktor Merényi, Chef at the Embassy of Hungary, in Washington D.C., USA. Viktor Merényi knew already as a child that cooking and fine cuisine is the field where he would like to be active in, and later he graduated from the College of Catering, Commerce and Tourism at the Budapest Business School Faculty of Commerce. Prior to accepting the prestigious job offer at the Embassy – which he “deeply believes is a unique opportunity for him to bring forward the Hungarian gastronomy at the highest professional level” – Viktor Merényi gained substantial experience and reputation at world-class restaurants and top hotels in Hungary and Ireland.
In 2010, shortly after relocating to Washington D.C., Viktor Merényi made his debut in the United States at the Embassy Chef Challenge, the culinary competition of chefs working in diplomatic missions in Washington, and won the head-to-head live cooking part of the Embassy Chef Challenge 2010 competition (Challenge Sweden). Created in 2009 by the Cultural Tourism DC, Embassy Chef Challenge takes place every year in spring and it spotlights Washington DC’s international community in one unforgettable evening – satisfying far more than appetites. The Embassy Chef Challenge is Cultural Tourism DC’s annual fundraising benefit event, featuring international tastings, awards, entertainment, and a world-class silent auction. The event is very popular among guests and tickets are sold out quickly, which sets the stage to all participating chefs to make a lasting impression of their skills as well as of the cuisine they represent.
Last year in March 2012, Viktor Merényi won the Grand Prize at the Embassy Chef Challenge, and he dazzled the jury with his creativity and artistic skills. As a two-time silver medalist of ‘Culinary World Cup Luxemburg’ (2002 and 2006) as well as winner of the ‘Best Creative Foods’ category at the ‘Traditional & Evolution High Class Live Kitchen’ competition (2008), he considers the Embassy Chef Challenge award (2012) as a significant milestone in his curriculum.
Winning the Grand Prize also comes with the honor that Chef Merényi will be member of the prestigious evaluating jury panel during Embassy Chef Challenge event held March 14, 2013. Leading up to the event, last weekend (February 10, 2013) the so called ‘Challenge Hungary’ took place, when embassy chefs cooked head-to-head, Top Chef-style. Competing chefs each receive one common ingredient and a basket of surprise ingredients, determined by 2012 Embassy Chef Winner and 2013 judge, Hungarian Chef Viktor Merényi. Winner of Challenge Hungary will be announced during the Embassy Chef Challenge in March.
To further showcase Hungary’s culinary heritage to a wider audience and make it available to other cultures, the Hungarian Embassy hosts a monthly series of fundraising events ‘Culinary Corner’ held at the Hungarian Ambassador’s private kitchen in Washington D.C. Up to 10 guests from diplomatic circles are invited to the events and they have the pleasure to watch over Viktor Merényi’s shoulder when he prepares and cooks the menu, while his wife Zita Merényi-Bolla and congressional liaison Anna Stumpf provide guests with insights into Hungarian history, culture and traditions. This is a very innovative and informative fundraising event that certainly stands out of the pack and leaves a lasting impression on their guests.
“I am determined to present to the Washingtonian audience the Hungarian restauration culture and a new, striving gastro-generation whose achievements are based on regionality, creativity and individuality”- says Viktor Merényi. All of us are ambassadors of our Hungarian culture and heritage, regardless of where we are geographically or otherwise. It is great to see that excellent and passionate professionals take up the challenge, go much beyond their daily responsibilities, make an impact and achieve great results that we all can be proud of.
For more information about Viktor Merényi please visit the website of the Embassy of Hungary in Washington D.C. To find out more about the Embassy Chef Challenge event you are kindly invited to visit Cultural Turism DC .
Source of images: courtesy of the Embassy of Hungary, Washington D.C.