After graduating in catering and tourism, Totó, whose real name is Márta Meleg, worked at a traditional British cafe in Tenby, Wales, for two years. She then moved back to Hungary and set up an online “meals-on-wheels” family business called Totó Konyhája (Totó’s Kitchen), which delivers quality, homemade food around
the Budapest area. Should you be in need of a specific diet, this is the service for you.
How did you end up in the catering business?
I have been cooking and baking for friends and family since my teens. This is what I have wanted to do from as far as I can remember; as well as wanting to run my own catering business. After graduating I completed my apprenticeship, which included working at the distinguished Auguszt Cukrászda, a well-known family-run pastry shop in Budapest. While I was working abroad I never gave up the idea of setting up my own business. The idea of becoming a specialised outlet came when I was recently diagnosed “lactose intolerant”, meaning I was not able to consume dairy products and had to follow a new set diet. I found it very difficult to begin with, and harder to find suitable dishes in restaurants and cafes. Finally I found a solution: I realised there must be a demand for food that lacks the most common allergens. The professional challenge was to identify and extract certain ingredients from the regular dishes, and replace with something similar but better. Thus with my menus today there are no artificial flavourings, no processed milk or cheese, no wheat and no sugar. This was my personal breakthrough and now I have a faithful following.
What is generally on the menu?
I often serve international cuisine such as quiche or lasagna, alongside the well-known Hungarian favorites such as gombapörkölt (mushroom stew) főzelék (a thick vegetable soup), tárkonyos ragu leves (ragout soup with tarragon) and many others. Followed by whatever the “dessert of the day”’ may be, such as chia and tapioca pudding, a range of assorted brownies, muffins and fresh fruit salads. I often use a rich array of herbs and spices. In particular I like the famous and delightful Hungarian paprika varieties: dramatic with colour and exciting with flavour. All of which are carefully prepared, selected and arranged every day by my loyal and dedicated staff, to make the finest meals in town. We also have a priority to use seasonal fruit and vegetables at all times and support the local producers.
How is business?
We started out in summer last year. It was difficult at first with all the red tape. Plus we needed to pace ourselves with growth, marketing and not to downgrade on quality for the sake of competition. However we have managed this uncertain period well, as there is now a consistent flow of orders and we are set for further growth and more culinary challenges.
Who are your customers?
At the beginning our clientele was from the neighborhood but now we deliver to office workers and to families at home. We have some customers coming to us with hormonal problems such as endometriosis; it was most satisfying to provide meals for them. Healthy and not-so-healthy people like this selected food and have taken very much to our cuisine. This is what I wish to achieve as there is always something healthy and nourishing on offer for everyone.
What is particularly special about your service?
So far we have been cooking vegetarian and vegan dishes only. However there is a part of our customer base requesting meat dishes. We may consider this as an option sometime in the future. We also care about the environment and always re-use strong, clean, safe containers for transferring food.
Beyond the regular orders, what else do you provide?
We cook custom-made birthday, wedding and Christmas cakes. Our cakes are often made without sugar and still taste just as good. I am sure I can make that “special something” for you that relates to any special event and that can be either collected or delivered. The priority within this business is to always have and maintain a “jóizű együttműködés”, “a tasty cooperation”, which gives a friendly and caring service at all times, as well as to keep ahead with new business trends and maintain the Totó Konyhája prestige at all times.
To try any of Totó’s healthy dishes, see www.totokonyhaja.hu and their Facebook page. Upon request an English or a German version will be sent to you.