04 Dec Interview With Eszter Palagyi, Head Chef At Hungary’s Costes Restaurant
Costes Restaurant is the first fine dining establishment to be awarded a Michelin Star in Hungary. Eszter Palagyi, Head Chef, was the youngest female Chef in Central Europe to win this prestigious accolade.
I met up with her to talk about her meteoric rise in the fine dining world, exotic travel destinations, the Sziget Festival, DJ David Guetta, and what the future holds for this gifted modern day culinary artist.
LM: When did you know you wanted to become a chef?
EP: For as long as I can remember I have been cooking with my father and my family together at home. It was the third skill I learnt after walking and talking. By the time I had reached 18 years of age I realised that I would like to become a chef and this is what I have now decided I want to do for the rest of my life.
LM: Where did you study?
EP: I graduated from the cooking school in Budapest, Hungary.
LM: Where was your first job?
EP: I started my career in Hilton Budapest during the formative years of my cooking school. After that I continued my culinary education and experience at the award winning, two Rosettes, luxurious Mount Falcon and Restaurant based in Ireland.
LM: What’s your personal definition of luxury?
EP: My personal definition of luxury is something that provides pleasure, comfort and sumptuous living.
LM: What luxury item could you not live without?
EP: That’s any easy question for me. Obviously, I couldn’t live without my smart phone!
LM: You were crowned Hungary’s Chef of the Year. How did that make you feel?
EP: I was taken a back as I wasn’t expecting it at all. I had moved back to Hungary for almost 2 years and in that time I had only been working in Costes Restaurant for 6 months before the nomination. Overall I was very happy and surprised.
LM: Tell our Luxurious Magazine readers what they can expect on the menu at Costes Restaurant?
EP: The first impression when entering the restaurant is a beautiful, quiet, luxury eatery coupled with a charming ambience. At Costes Restaurant we only present the finest ingredients from Hungary and France. We also serve a variety of traditional Hungarian dishes on the menu depending upon the season. Our ultimate aim is to deliver a premium fine dining experience for all our guests ensuring the highest quality of service.
LM: Costes Restaurant was the first restaurant in Hungary to be awarded its first Michelin star. How did you celebrate?
EP: The restaurant received its first Michelin star in 2010. I have been working at Costes Restaurant since 2013 so I can only talk about my own personal time at Costes Restaurant which includes me receiving the Michelin star in March 2016 as the youngest female chef of Central Europe.
I was very happy and excited to be able to maintain the Michelin star for the restaurant because Costes Restaurant has already been on a long journey involving a lot of hard work, sacrifice and dedication to get them to where they are today. When I found out that we had maintained the Michelin star, myself and the team opened a delightful bottle of French Sir Winston Churchill Pol Roger 2002 champagne to celebrate our fantastic achievement.
LM: What’s your signature dish?
EP: At the moment my signature dish is Edible Crab which is Crab mousse served with corn flan, puree and popcorn textures, baby and grilled sweetcorn with tricolour sprouts salad in the side dish.
LM: Who’s the most famous person you’ve cooked for so far?
EP: Costes Restaurant has welcomed many VIP’s, dignitaries, celebrities and famous actors such as Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro, right through to Hungary’s famous pianist Balázs Havasi and also 3 Michelin star chef Guy Savoy to name but a few.
LM: As a female Head Chef are you seeing more women wanting to follow in your footsteps?
EP: Female head chef’s are few and far between but for those women who do go on to forge a career within this male dominated industry usually end up achieving great fame and fortune too. From my personal point of view a female chef is always needed in order to balance the energy within a strong cooking environment.
LM: We hear you love to travel? What’s the most luxurious travel destination you’ve been to? What’s your next travel destination?
EP: It is very true, I do love to travel. I really like to get to know new cultures, lifestyles and meet with new people too. I believe there is always something new to see, learn and experience from travelling. My most luxurious travel destination to date has been definitely Ibiza.
I also want to explore new destinations in the future too such as Las Vegas and Bora Bora.
LM: You recently got the opportunity to visit Budapest’s famous Sziget Festival. How was it for you? Which artists / bands did you get to see?
EP: Yes that’s right, it was my first time at Sziget Festival and it was such a pleasant surprise. I had an amazing time with great people. It was a very well organized festival which also had a superb VIP section. I was fortunate enough to enjoy the concert from the backstage VIP area where you can meet a variety of famous people. This year I met with the global superstar DJ David Guetta and thoroughly enjoyed his spellbinding set from the VIP area, it was a truly memorable experience.
LM: What was your highlight of Sziget Festival?
EP: My highlight of Sziget Festival has to be being backstage and also getting the chance to meet with David Guetta and get a signed autograph from him too.
LM: The future is looking bright for you and Costes Restaurant. What does the next chapter look like and what are you hoping to achieve?
EP: It is exciting times at Costes Restaurant and I am looking to help raise our fine dining experience and service to the next level. My ultimate goal is to maintain the restaurant as Hungary’s No.1 fine dining restaurant. As for the next chapter, I hope to help Costes Restaurant be the first premium eating outlet in Hungary to achieve its second Michelin star. Now that would be a great story!