SALT received one of its most important honours in November when Szilárd’s name appeared on the Top100 list of The Best Chef.
In November, Szilárd and Máté spent several days in Mexico on a study trip where they also attended the award ceremony announcing the Top100 of The Best Chef. In 2022, Szilárd was shortlisted for the title, and this year, he became the first Hungarian chef to make it on the list.
Making it to the Top100 of The Best Chef is a two-step process. Each year, 100 new chefs are nominated by culinary professionals, foodies, critics and photographers. This is how Szilárd was shortlisted last year. Then, The Best Chef professionals, the best chefs of the previous year and the new nominees (who, of course, cannot vote for themselves) can cast their votes for the new contenders and those who made it to the previous year’s Top100. In total, 200 candidates contend for the annual Top100, from which Szilárd ranked 93rd.
A success for the whole team
Making it on the list is an important achievement because it is a recognition not only for the chef’s creativity but also for the team working with them. Szilárd highlights the importance of this, as he believes that the work of a chef cannot be acknowledged without appreciating the team behind it, which, in the case of SALT, is especially strong.
The value of this success is not only increased by the fact that Szilárd is the first and so far the only Hungarian chef to make it on the list, but also that the list containing the créme de la créme of the chef profession is once again dominated by the representatives of traditionally well-ranked and well-liked cuisines such as chefs working in the best Spanish, French, Scandinavian, Far Eastern and South American kitchens – Szilárd is the only one to be included on the list as an Eastern European professional.
Gala and professional programme
The trip to Mexico was an exciting experience not only for the gala-like award ceremony. Szilárd and Máté also had the chance to take part in a prestigious, invite- only three-day professional programme that was centred around tradition and future – concepts at the heart of SALT’s philosophy. “What does tradition mean when looking into the future? What does the future look like for us if we also want to stay true to our roots? How can chefs represent their countries, their culture and their people through their dishes?” These and other questions were contemplated during the professional programme and the answers fit nicely with the solution offered by the SALT team’s archaic Hungarian peasant culture-inspired kitchen: to create the kitchen of the future, we need to understand the origins, the history and the journey of our food to the tables.
During the professional programme and the award ceremony, Szilárd and Máté had the chance to meet culinary professionals whose work influenced SALT’s general approach. Making it on the list and being among the invitees to the professional programme is in itself, a great honour. Szilárd promises to keep working tirelessly with his team to ensure that their food not only conveys fantastic flavours, but also culture, and remains worthy of this new recognition.