176 Criș, Judetul Mures,
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Following the recent inauguration of our Kitchen Barn, we thought it was high time to introduce you to our head chef Robert. With more than a decade of culinary experience behind him – from mastering Michelin-starred French cuisine to being the right-hand man to a master in Japanese food – Robert brings fresh passion as he aims to raise the bar of Transylvania’s gastronomic offerings.
Our restaurant’s concept is “Terroir,” foods that are deeply influenced by tradition and culture, geography, and climate. It is an ever-changing menu that Robert designs to ensure our guests can explore it with curiosity, and to have the privilege of experiencing luscious, memorable dishes during your holiday to Transylvania.
For a chef such as myself, freedom of creation has its perks. I cook for guests as I would cook for my family, so every dish is handled with great care and attention to detail. Every day I go to the market and I pick up whatever ingredients that are fresh and seasonal. We don’t have a fixed menu, we change it daily based on what ingredients are available in that season. Maybe that’s the best part about eating here at the Bethlen Estates.
When guests arrive here, the menu it’s always a surprise for them. The element of surprise comes with the guarantee that we used the best quality of ingredients. Our gastronomical experience leaves our guests satisfied but still wanting more. Of course, we can do special requests, but in general, we don’t work with a predefined menu and I almost never cook the same dish twice.
Tonight we serve a dinner made with exclusively local and seasonal ingredients. We start with “Gardner’s soup,” a delicious and hearty dish made from fresh vegetables.
For the main course, we have Mangalita pork loin with cauliflower couscous and a delicate cauliflower puree complemented by a wild mushroom ragu and a demi-glace sauce.
My ingredients of choice are always fresh vegetables. I have a good friend who is a gardener and he always surprises me with different ingredients. For example, I had no idea that Asian ingredients like Shiso or Bok choy also grow in the local gardens.
We have a source of great local lamb meat and Mangalita pork, a traditional breed with a unique flavor. I also work with a lot of game meat like venison and rabbit. Truffles and wild mushrooms from around the village are often present in our kitchen.
I’ve always loved to cook, I used to watch all the cooking shows while growing up and imagined that one day I will become a great chef. I was about 16 when I started cooking in a professional kitchen.
My career started in my hometown, in Targu Mures. After a while, I was hungry to learn more about gastronomy in a bigger, more professional kitchen, and that’s when I started traveling. I worked in Budapest for a year in various restaurants: steak houses, Japanese, and Italian restaurants.
After that, my journey took me to London where I spent 2 years, trying to gain as much experience as I could working in different kitchens. I was privileged to learn from mentors like Chef Raymond Blancs in traditional fine French cuisine with 2 Michelin stars, and Chef Hussein Hokoma, a real master of Japanese cuisine. Then I returned to Romania, where I worked in fine dining restaurants in Covasna and in Bucharest. That’s my 10 years of experience in a nutshell.
My deepest passion is Asian cuisine, especially the Japanese kitchen. Of course, the French cuisine also had a big impact on me while I was training, so I often combine elements from both. For me, these two kitchens provide all the core techniques from which every dish comes to life.
Experimenting with ingredients and techniques is a big part of my work even when cooking traditional and local recipes. I combine contrasting meat and vegetable elements to create innovative dishes, and my aim is to offer well-prepared delectable meals for every guest that visits us at the Bethlen Estates.
The deserts we serve here at Bethlen Estates are usually traditional recipes with a twist. For example, tonight we serve peach dumplings complemented by other elements on the plate, various different interpretations of the peach texture and flavour.
People who love to eat are always the best people.
176 Criș, Judetul Mures