Work in the kitchen

Beside ordinary wealthy people, we can often see celebrities and politicians at five-star hotels. These guests often attract attention with their presence and peculiar requests. In the past few decades, there have been stories we remember happily and incidents we would rather forget. 

One of the unforgettable stories is about Gerhard Schröder, former German chancellor, who ignored the delicious dishes for guests and chose the menu of the staff instead – according to He was looking at the menu, full of delicious and posh specialities, carefully for such a long time, and in the end, he asked:

“Is there any stew?”

It was revealed that as a child, he was in Hungary several times on holiday, and he fell in love with our traditional stew. The headwaiter told him that there was no stew in the menu, but the staff lunch happened to be stew on that day. He brought a large aluminium plate full of stew and Schröder was delighted – said István, director of a luxurious restaurant, to Szabolcs Kordos, author of the Luxushotel Hungary. You can read about experiencing Hungarian food in Budapest here.

István has been in many positions during his career. He started in the kitchen and then became a waiter, headwaiter, manager and finally director – therefore he has a lot of exciting stories. Politicians and world celebrities left a lasting impression on him. 

Luxurious Hungarian food and hospitality are very attractive if one can afford them

As István remembers, in the 90s, so many world-famous people came to the restaurant.

“On Monday, Mr Martini came, on Tuesday Mr Rotschild visited, the Hilton-heir turned up at the weekend. Benetton and Pierre Cardin also ate at my restaurant. The new business opportunities and markets attracted these people, and this is the main reason why they found us interesting after the Change of the System.”

– István concluded. 

Not all the experiences were positive and pleasant with celebrities and politicians, for the restaurant director. He found Woody Allen a cold, reticent person at the restaurant who ordered lightly seasoned chicken breast every day for a month, during his stay. He was stolid and impassive, let us just say that he saved his humour and energy for his films.

On the other hand, Luciano Pavarotti impressed all the associates of the restaurants – the legendary opera singer visited the kitchen as well. He loved the egg dumplings and “túróscsusza” (cottage cheese pasta with bacon). He said it was a shame that he had not known all the kinds of pasta as an Italian, so he went to the kitchen and started cooking together with the staff. He was very friendly and kind – István added.

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One of the MPs of the Hungarian Parliament (even today – he was also involved in privatisation at the time), brought István into a very unpleasant situation. He did not accept that after 10 pm, he could not have beef stew with bread dumplings.

“If the pope himself had asked for that dish, we would not have been able to serve that meal either.”

– István said later. The MP took it personally and got upset, so asked the typical arrogant question: “do you know who I am?” The next day István had to explain himself in front of the hotel management and say sorry for a mistake he never made. This was pretty humiliating for him.  

In the 90s, there were many mafiosos among the guests. According to the staff, there were some gun-runners and smugglers in suits to worry about at that time. As István says:

“there was a guy who was escorted to the restroom by four of his bodyguards with guns in their suits. I was praying for them to eat the dessert quickly and leave because I did not want to see a shooting at all.”

István says that the budget may miss the income provided by the Russian and Arab mafiosos, but the staff was delighted when they were finally gone. 

According to István, to enjoy holidays among the most luxurious circumstances is still the privilege of the social elite. You can read about the top5 restaurants to visit here.


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