Mate has been in the gastronomy business for 12 years. He was working mainly in Budapest but spent some valuable time abroad as well. He told us, his first real sommelier job was in MAK Bistro, where he has been working for the past four years.
The secret of his success is his wife, who is one of the best sommeliers in Hungary and gives him a lot of support. He won the Hungarian Best Sommelier competition in 2018 and will represent Hungary at the ASI World’s Best Sommelier contest in Belgium in 2019.
We asked him a few questions about the competition, sommeliers in Hungary, and his vision for the worldwide promotion of Hungarian food and wine.
Q1. You won the Hungarian contest in 2018, did you expect it and how do you feel about it?
Mate: I won the Hungarian Sommelier of the year award twice in a row.
Actually, the first time no one expected me to become the winner, and that includes myself. This year, the competition was a lot more difficult. On one hand there were many more competitors, and on the other I had high expectations for myself. This award was significantly more important to me than the previous one.
Q2. How do you think the title of Best Sommelier of Hungary will change your life?
Mate: I will just go ahead and act the same as I did before achieving this great award. Nevertheless, I must admit the title has brought some challenges as well, as a higher degree of responsibility in everything I do.
Q3. How is the profession of sommeliers in Hungary? What can be improved?
Mate: In Hungary, the education system is far from optimal in this field. However there are certain signs of improvement on the horizon. I believe that in our profession there is no other way then to proceed along the path of endless learning.
Q4. You have a great knowledge about food and wine. What do you think you can do to promote your national beverages and gastronomy?
Mate: In MÁK restaurant where I work as the Head-Sommelier we predominantly focus on Hungarian wines. While we have a well-balanced domestic and international wine list, we are enormously proud of our Hungarian selection. I must say the Hungarian wines are quite unique and therefore it is my firm opinion that wine lovers from all walks of life might just find their preferences. When pairing wines to the tasting menus of MÁK we provide only Hungarian beverages, which can be matched so lightly and elegantly, with our dishes that have a gentle Scandinavian influence.