Áron Barka started his career at the Kempinski Hotel in Budapest after leaving school. During the years he spent at this 5 start property he gained great experience in gourmet cooking. In order to develop further, he went to one of the most beautiful parts of Germany, to work at the Four Season Hotel in the Black Forest.
Next, after two years, to broaden his professional horizons even further he went to work on a river boat, and after his second year there he was named chef at A-Rosa Luna. He has attended exclusive events where he had the opportunity to work with several Michelin star chefs. After another two years experience he was made responsible for six river boat kitchens – four on the Danube, and two in France.
After his expat gastronomic journey he returned to Hungary and currently works as Chef de cuisine at the Continental Hotel Budapest, where is successfully launched the Araz Restaurant. He is a member of Hungarian Gastronomy Association, which is connected to Chaine des Rotisseurs organisation, and he has been honoured with the title ‘Chef Rôtisseur’.
1. Where did you grow up?
In Budapest, district XI near Kelenföld. My father is a hobby sculptor artist by profession and has probably influenced the way I present my culinary dishes today.
2. If you could be an expat anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
There are a lot of places like Japan, New Zealand, or a small Island in the Caribbean.
3. What would you miss most if you moved away from Hungary?
My family, friends, the Hungarian language, stuffed paprika, and the kohlrabi főzelék. I could never forget the place where I grew up in, or my Mum’s cooking (bean soup with trotters and a lots of sour cream)!
4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
Our hotel - Continental Hotel Budapest (former Zara Hotel) – and definitely the Araz Restaurant. It also worth checking out what lies underneath Budapest.
5. What is your favourite food?
I like sushi very much and sea-food: Jacobs and black mussels and oysters.
6. What is your favourite sport / form of exercise?
It’s probably now much more than a hobby because my real enjoyment is to go potholing, scuba diving, rocks and mountain climbing.
7. What is your favourite place in Hungary?
Pécs and Eger, since lots of my memories are connected to these cities. My Grandparents lived in a tiny little village near Pécs and I spent a lot of my childhood there. I also like Eger because of its wines.
8. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
Something that could definitely make the World a better place. A career that incorporates gastronomy with environmental protection. It is important that crops and foodstuffs should be free from any harmful effects to health.
9. What’s a job you would definitely never want?
A job without love. (There is nothing else I can think of since what I am doing now has fulfilled my childhood dreams. I have a vocation where communication is not really needed since I impress with my creations and not words.)
10. Where did you spend your last vacation?
Chamonix, France for a week and a half. I wanted to climb Mont Blanc but the weather did not allow me to do so.
11. Where do you hope to spend your next one?
A journey around the World by boat since I love both the sea and boats.
12. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
Band: Pink Floyd.
Film: The Wing, The Thigh, and The Big Restaurant with Louis de Funès.
Hobby: the Japanese martial art Kobudo – which taught me how to be persistent and to achieve the personal goals I set.
13. Which temptations can you not resist?
A good steak and women.
14. Red wine or white?
One of my ultimate favourites is Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc – which emit a vegetable soup-like aroma. I also prefer heavy red wines.
15. Book or movie?
Initially I used to read the book and then watch the movie, but these days the latter now comes first.
16. Morning person or night person?
It doesn’t really matter; I take it as life gives it. I like listening to the birds in the morning if I have had enough sleep the night before.
17. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
It would be great if people could love each other, but it is more important for them first to face up to their real selves. Unfortunately, only a few can take this step because the process can also be quite painful.
18. Buda or Pest side?
19. Which achievement in your life are you most pleased about?
My biggest dream has always been to become a chef, to have my own place which I now have. I remember, while working in France on a boat with 220 guests, there was a tiny little mussel farm on the shore where a little river flowed into the sea. I cycled there every week, chose 10 kg of oysters and same of mussels, took them back to the boat and prepared it for the guests’ dinner. For me it was a pleasure to see how much they enjoyed the tastes of the dishes I served them
20. What is your personal motto?
"Do it well and customers will be back."