István Árva, our restaurant's sommelier is responsible for the distinguished quality of the wines served up.

Dear István, please tell me about yourself. How did you arrive here?

Yes, I’m István Árva, I’m a sommelier at the Salon Restaurant. What is there to know about me? I’ve been working in this field for a long time... I graduated from the catering school Ecseri úti Vendéglátóipari Szakkollégium in 1984, and right after my time in the military, I started working in this field. From 1990, I worked at Gambrinus Restaurant, where, acting upon my director’s advice, I started learning more about the sommelier profession. In fact, this training started at that time, and I saw it as an excellent opportunity – and I still think it is great that I was among the first who received this qualification in Hungary. After that I also completed a manager training to be able to coordinate other people as well. I came to the New York Café in 2010, and I’ve been working here ever since.

What does a position like this mean in Hungary and maybe on international level?

Great acknowledgement. You see, the New York Café is unique, even “only” as a building. Since it was established 123 years ago, it has earned excellent reputation and is recognised as “the most beautiful café in the world.” This, of course, also imposes an obligation on us: the members of the team are putting their hearts into their work so that we can fill the building with content. As guests enter the café or the restaurant, they immediately feel how elegant it is, which, in some cases may even make them uneasy. Our task is to ease up this elegance, of course only to an appropriate degree, to make the atmosphere more friendly and personal.

What are your goals with the team?

Catering is an interesting field. Even though you can set fixed goals, at the end of the day the main point is always the same: to increase customer satisfaction continuously. Of course awards and prizes can be good indicators of this, but I think this is the main point.

In recent years, you have been ranked high in the Volkswagen Dining Guide Award, which is regarded by many as a stepping-stone to a Michelin star…

Yes, we have been among the best many times. My colleagues and I have set an ambitious target, which is, indeed, the Michelin star. It goes without saying that is very difficult to achieve, but we are working on it, constantly looking for opportunities to improve ourselves.

What do you think about the current situation of the wine sector in Hungary?

I can honestly tell you that it is developing at a very good pace. It is really something that 90% of the wines we serve at the restaurant comes from Hungarian wineries, and our guests do like them. Surely there are difficulties, but there are excellent wines, too. We have 5-course and 7-course dégustation menus, where we only serve Hungarian wines to our guests. These wines receive a lot of praise, and people enquire about the wineries.

What do you consider the greatest value of the restaurant or the café?

Good question. The obvious answer would be the building, or the team. Yet, I think it is the fact that guests are satisfied and smiling as they leave, every time. This is a real value.