The Debrecziner Gourmet Festival is held for the 6th time in the Big Forest of Debrecen. The event began on Friday and it was attended by many people despite the rain, and by the evening, Békás-tó was filled with people interested in Hungarian gastronomy. The Debrecziner Gourmet Festival awaits those interested with unique dishes and a great atmosphere in the heart of the Big Forest. Those who desire can still visit the event today and on Sunday.
At the festival, many delicacies await everyone, from traditional Hungarian dishes to very special seafood dishes.
Chefs from all over the country will guide those interested in the world of flavors. Visitors will be entertained by cooking shows and concerts until Sunday evening around the Békás-tó.
Wellington Coffee & Pie cafe opened its doors in the fall of 2021 in the iconic Rickl House building. They are waiting for you with coffee specialties, a wide selection of pies, and unique New Zealand wines. Gastronomic experiences are made even more unforgettable by the cozy atmosphere of the café and the historic environment.
Csaba Farkas, the dreamer and founder of Wellington Coffee & Pie, told us where the idea to create such a cool gastronomic place came from and why they are participating in the Gourmet Festival for the first time this year.
Where did the idea come from to open the café and pie business?
First of all, it’s a crazy idea, everyone assumed it, and it was. I lived in New Zealand for 4 years with my family, when we moved back from there, the pandemic happened, I could no longer continue my other jobs, and we thought we would utilize my previous business experience in a different way.
Ever since specialty coffee came to Hungary, I’ve been following it. I’ve attended barista training in New Zealand too, and I’m also a big coffee fan.
And the part of the pie also comes from New Zealand, it’s an average street food there, which you can also get at gas stations. There are such pie shops, this is a very proven quick dish that can be prepared very well.
The pie is an English food, but for some reason, it is best made in New Zealand and Australia, they have developed the smaller pies to perfection.
Name choosing fully covers your services. How long did it take to figure it out?
I didn’t think much, if we are dealing with coffee and pie, then somehow it has to refer to New Zealand, and the capital is Wellington, that’s what people know here in Hungary too. The name directly popped up in my mind. It’s easy to remember, both for Hungarians and English people.
What can people expect when they come to your restaurant?
The concept changed a lot and evolved from the beginning. First I wanted a very white clean line, we started with very simple minimal walls. And when we started the renovation, a lot of skeletons fell out of the closet, in connection to the floor and walls. When the renovation was taking place, I read Magda Szabó’s book: Old-fashioned story, in which many scenes take place in this building, in which it can be read that the original shop had wooden floors, so we stayed with that.
The mood of the store was advancing step by step. We started using refurbished and used materials for the equipment. That’s exactly why such a concept arose, to be original and real.
The atmosphere and communication of the place also appeal to foreigners living in the city. Did you want to create a place that was dear to them as well?
Bilingualism was conscious because of the New Zealand origin. And we knew that there were foreigners, international students, and tourists in the city, and we wanted to address them as well. We did not think foreigners would be interested in it to such an extent. Somehow they exactly understand the whole atmosphere of the place. Many people say that this place could be in London, Paris, or Vienna, they try to guess what the atmosphere is most similar to.
We also have many Hungarian and local regulars, but three-quarters of our guests are foreigners, they somehow better understand and appreciate this atmosphere and our offers.
You opened the restaurant in 2021. This is the first Gourmet Festival you are attending, what do you expect from the event?
We want to introduce ourselves and address the locals. The pie is a product that people need to be educated about in Hungary. We are also here so people can get to know us and our dishes. I think that in this informal environment, where everyone can be a little more open, we can know each other more.
The forest is the inspiration for the dishes at this year’s Debrecziner Gourmet Festival. How does this show up in your food?
We didn’t have to worry much, I must say because the pie can be filled with any filling. One of my favorite pies was planned to be deer meat and sweet potatoes. In New Zealand, the national dish is sweet potatoes (kumara) and they are prepared in a thousand ways. We forested this pie a bit and took it in the direction of a tarragon juniper. We made a mushroom pie with several wild mushrooms. The third is an Indian butter chicken, which we recently introduced in the restaurant and everyone loves it, and we also add an exotic oriental touch to it.
Our dessert is a gooseberry-cranberry crumble topped with a New Zealand vibe, vanilla ice cream with Turkish honey.
A big novelty is our green juniper pine syrup, completely foresty, which is for the very brave.
Our lemonades are made with the lavender cardamom flavor, which is very summery. We brought matcha cookies, you can also try cold blue and masala chai too.
For those who do not manage to visit the Gourmet Festival, will they have the opportunity to taste these dishes later in the restaurant?
Yes, we sometimes like to add deer meat pie to our regular menu. There will also be Indian butter chicken because people really like it. As long as we are in the season, this gooseberry crumble will be available.
Continuous renewal is also characteristic of you, for example, the daily soup menu. Are you planning a similar innovation in the future? What can your guests expect?
We keep the soup different every day, we will pair it with sandwiches or pies on a menu. Now we are planning the ratatouille pie, we want to transform more Hungarian dishes into pies. Many foreigners are also eager to discover our Hungarian cakes and food.
Featured image: The Wellington Coffee & Pie team