ISTANBUL: Hungarian chef Agnes Toth to cook at the Istanbul Liszt Institute Hungarian Cultural Center for one year, tracing Ottoman Empire’s traces in Hungarian cuisine
The Istanbul Liszt Institute Hungarian Cultural Center announced that prominent chef Agnes Toth will be working at the center for one year.
Hungarian chef has been organizing events on Turkish culture and gastronomy for nearly 20 years. For the last seven years, she owns a brand that promotes Turkish cuisine in Hungary under the name of “Nar Gourmet.” The chef, who came to Türkiye more than 30 times during this process, did internships and received training at many iconic gastronomy capitals ranging from Gaziantep to Ayvalık, from Hatay to Antalya.
Last year Toth presented a selection of tastes to unfurl the Ottoman Empire’s cultural traces in Hungarian cuisine. The Hungarian chef prepared traditional Hungarian dishes from the ingredients that are common in Türkiye at the dinner, presenting to people who are interested in the world of gastronomy and experts in this field. Trying to show the common points between Turkish and Hungarian cuisines, she transferred the heritage from the materials that came today from the Ottoman period. She also suggested that the common points of both cuisines may be rooted in the common past that goes back to Central Asia.
Starting her career in the field of cultural diplomacy, Toth transferred to the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs after introducing Turkish culture to Hungarians for three years as the project coordinator at the Yunus Emre Institute’s (YEE) Turkish Cultural Center in Budapest.
After three years as a minister, she took a break from her diplomatic career and transformed “Nar Gourmet” into a brand and organized private dinners in her “home restaurant” as a chef. Collaborating with restaurants in Hungary, she organized numerous events promoting Turkish gastronomy and gave Turkish cooking courses at Budapest’s largest cooking school.
Toth also prepared traditional Hungarian dishes using local ingredients from Türkiye for the distinguished guests from time to time at the residence of the Hungarian Embassy in the capital Ankara.
Toth will return to her diplomatic mission for a year in the 2022-2023 period and will take on the task of gastronomy and project coordinator at the Liszt Institute Istanbul Hungarian Cultural Center. During her tenure, she will both convey the developments in the gastronomy sector in Hungary to his colleagues in Türkiye and share her research on the common history of Hungarian and Turkish cuisines with the interested parties. Toth will also voluntarily conduct a series of workshops, trainings and events through collaborations with local stakeholders.
During her last year’s visit, Toth touched upon the naturally changing tastes and recipes in Hungarian cuisine after the years of the Ottoman Empire in Hungary. She pointed out that the powdered red pepper called “paprika,” which is the most used by Hungarians today, actually found its place in Hungarian cuisine under the Ottoman Empire’s reign.
After honing Turkish recipes that she started to learn while picking up the Turkish language, with frequent visits to Istanbul, Toth continues to get training from Turkish chiefs on the local cuisine.
She also said that cold soups, which are preferred in Turkish cuisine in summer, are similar to the Hungarian cuisine, also elaborating that pancakes in Hungarian cuisine have a similar aspect to pancakes in Turkish cuisine and that Hungarian cuisine is closer to Turkish than Western Europe.
She explained that she discovered the utilization of dried fruits in Hungarian recipes and even from research that cabbage was cooked layer by layer in the past, but after the coming Ottoman Empire, cabbage was prepared as a wrap. She stated that all the materials that started to be used by the Ottoman Empire gained an important place in Hungarian cuisine over time and turned into the Hungarians’ taste.
“Thanks to its geography, Türkiye enjoys a rich culinary culture,” she said.