Lajos Bíró

Elegance and simplicity

Outspoken, humoruos and professional. We talked with Lajos Bíró, the chef of Bock Bistro, jury member of Food & Design about the Hungarian chef education, good and bad students and about the criterion of the winning aspirant.

Coninvest announced the Food & Design Competition for students and newly qualified chefs between the ages of 18-30. The question is quite obvious: what kind of experiences do you have in the field of national qualifications?

Bad ones. The Hungarian qualifications – either we speak about the ones in Budapest or in the country-side – made no progress in the last 20 years. As you know, there is no state-aid that could mend the circumstances, no conceptions and some of the teachers’ attitude does not help the situation – with rare exceptions. The fact that the students learn exactly what I have been taught is absurd.

And what about the gastronomic revolution? Everybody talks about it, can it be that there is actual no improvement?

The gastronomic revolution is happening in the restaurants not in the schools. The Hungarian schools are exactly where as they were 20 years ago.

Do you have students or do you employ apprentices? What are your experiences?

They told me about 6-7 years ago that I should do and not just talk about it; because when they asked me, just like now, I had a crushing opinion on the current qualifications. So since then, we have apprentices, we have just hired two of them today. Not many of them are willing to take the challenge because they know it won’t be easy. We don’t deal with students who have grades like 2 or 3 and those who have a 4 or 5 of grades receive a 2 or 3 from us. We expect that our students know the theoretical parts perfectly and to be able to use them in practice maximally. I might add that you have to actually cook at us. We have people to do the washing up and peeling the vegetables. If the student rarely has to do that it is because he/she has to learn how to do so.

What is your advice to the competitors of Food & Design?

Basically they will have to match the requirements of the competition and I am going to judge them in the same way as well. One thing I can only hope is that simplicity and elegance will be present with the foods. Don’t overthink anything. The most important criterion is that it has to be done in a way that in can be put into everyday life. The meal has to be done out of 2-3 elements and complicated compositions are to be put aside. The cooking of Szilveszter Horvath, the winner of the 2012 Tradition and Evolution could be a good example. The texture and taste of the meal were perfect, he omitted all kinds of complexity and yes, the most important thing was that it was simple and elegant.

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