In Conversation with Eva Vertesi Executive Assistant to the Consul General of Hungary about the evening at Berkeley Bicycle Club event venue Toronto which was an opportunity for The Hungarian Consulate Toronto to present Hungary and all it has to offer to their friends here in Toronto and the broader southern Ontario region.
How was the Hungarian Heritage menu created for the event at Berkeley Bicycle Club and what was the best part of the dishes?
The menu was created by Master Chef János Hegedüs, who gave our guests a taste of Hungary’s finest flavours: duck and goose seasoned with traditional spices and served with cheese, grapes, figs, and vegetables native to Hungary. Guests also had the opportunity to try pogácsa, a savoury bread traditionally baked in the ashes of the fireplace and képviselőfánk, an elegant pastry filled with vanilla cream. We also should not forget the wide selection of fine Hungarian wines selected to complement the menu provided by the Tokaj Wine Boutique and Restaurant.
The event featured the talents of Hungarian artist Anita Palkovics hand painted porcelain works of art. What was the significance of having her at the event and how does she represent a tradition of fine art works?
Ever since its establishment in 1826, Herend Porcelain Manufactory has been committed to artistic quality and perfection in handcrafting its porcelains. Herend porcelain is part of the Hungarian Heritage and it remains the brand of choice among royalty, leaders of nations, and celebrities from all walks of life. Anita Palkovics is one of a handful of artists, highly skilled master painters in the world working at Herend striving to preserve it’s precious legacy.
What is the history of the musical performance and how did they arrive at their musical choices?
Music for the event was provided by Nandor Farkas and his small Gypsy band. They performed Hungarian Gypsy music on the violin, cello, and cimbalom, a concert hammered dulcimer typically found in the Carpathian Basin since the 15th century. Its distinctive sound is easily recognizable to those familiar with Hungarian folk music. The songs played by Mr Farkas’ ensemble included traditional folk tunes as well as contemporary pieces, including the theme of the Phantom of the Opera. The purpose of Gypsy music is to entertain the audience with its generally fast-paced, happy melody and highly improvised lyrics, and Mr Farkas certainly achieved this objective.
The Hungarian Consulate of Toronto partnered with the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency to create this informative, entertaining and culturally rich event. What were the benefits of creating this co-production?
We partnered with the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (www.hipa.hu), to introduce and promote Hungary to our guests. Our colleagues from the Agency could give first-hand information on new investment opportunities, incentives, promotions, taxation in Hungary, Their presence was greatly appreciated as there will be new opportunities in the near future as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU comes into force.
What are some of the interesting ways you have seen traditional Hungarian culture evolve and grow with modern influences?
It has been very interesting for us to observe the evolution of Hungarian culture as a result of modern influences, particularly in the musical sphere. Hungarian musicians will often incorporate traditional Hungarian folk instruments and tunes with modern melodies and lyrics in a delightful combination of the old and new. This mixture of old and new is also evident in Budapest’s popular ruin pubs, which have become social and cultural hubs next to the many museums, theatres and other more “traditional” places of culture. While most people associate Hungarian fashion with the clichéd Eastern European look or embroidered folk costumes we are happy to report fashion is alive and well with young Hungarian designers like Nanushka (www.nanushka.com), or Use Unused (www.useunused.com) leading the way.
What are some of the greatest experiences and values one can get from traveling to Hungary?
Our beautiful country offers much to visitors in terms of historical roots, grand architecture, culture and music, world class wine, and delightful cuisine. Budapest, dubbed the “Queen of the Danube,” ranks among the world’s most romantic and entertaining capital cities. We have sights to see and things to do for everybody – whether it be visiting the historic Castle District and its museums and art galleries, hiking or cycling in the Buda Hills, enjoying a delicious coffee at a classy café, soaking in the warm water of a thermal spa, or tasting some wines from the nation’s 22 wine regions. It is no surprise that Hungary’s history, culture, countless attractions, cruises, themed getaways frequently place it in “Top 10” travel destinations lists be it for the budget conscious traveller or those looking for a high class holiday.
How has social media played a role in communicating the multi-faceted world of Hungarian culture?
Hungary has quickly learned the value of social media in our fast-paced connected world. One of its more active faces is Hungary Tourism (www.gotohungary.com), which is exclusively dedicated to attracting visitors and ensuring they have a pleasant experience. Hungary Tourism makes effective use of its popular Facebook page and Twitter account (@HungaryTourism) to promote the country’s many attractions and to advertise upcoming events and programs. Tweets have been sent out on an almost daily basis since 2009, informing its followers of promotions and places to visit in Hungary, sharing photos and videos, and suggesting activities for tourists.
What were some of the positive outcomes of hosting this event?
We were thrilled to have this opportunity to present Hungary and all it has to offer to our friends here in Toronto and the broader southern Ontario region. By presenting Hungarian gastronomy, music, art, and economic opportunities at such an elegant venue, we are confident that we have piqued the interest of our guests, many of whom have expressed interest in visiting the country and doing business there. Furthermore, we had the chance to meet many new people and build relationships that will be key going forward. In brief, we were extremely pleased with how the event turned out and would like to thank all of those involved in making it happen, we are looking forward to hosting similar events in the future.
Why was the Berkeley Bicycle Club a good setting for this event?
We found the Berkeley Bicycle Club to be an excellent venue. The 19th century mansion is the perfect setting for a cultural gathering like ours, and the historic building mirrored Hungary itself, which has a rich history of its own. Many of our guests complimented the dignified atmosphere of the Berkeley Bicycle Club and the elegance of the mansion. The outdoor patio proved to be an excellent place to sit down for a chat with new friends over some delicious wine. Indoors, there was plenty of room for the musicians, the Herend Master Painter Show.