Who we are
The Tasting Table opened in late 2014, after much dusty renovations and planning. Co-founders Carolyn and Gábor Bánfalvi (who also run Taste Hungary, an award-winning culinary and wine tour company, since 2008) had long dreamed about having their own space in the heart of Budapest, where they could offer guests memorable wine tasting experiences, delicious hand-picked wines, an extensive selection of old and rare Tokaji aszús, and an opportunity to learn more about the Hungarian wine culture.
GÁBOR BÁNFALVI (co-founder) grew up in northwestern Hungary, and started traveling as soon as he could—exploring France, studying in Spain, working on a ship in the Caribbean, and tending bar and waiting on tables in New York. When he returned to Hungary, he again fell in love with his native cuisine and the emerging quality wine scene. He holds a Master’s Degree in Spanish linguistics and literature, and was a translator and interpreter in his previous career. He holds a Level 3 WSET certification, and takes every chance he can get to travel to different wine regions. He is an avid runner, and he is at work on a research project involving the Jewish history of Tokaj. Gábor is committed to increasing the profile of wine tourism in Hungary (and the larger region) and has spoken about entrepreneurism, wine tourism, and Hungarian food and wine to audiences including the Digital Wine Communications Conference, the Rotary Club, the Balassi Institute, the Bor, mámor, Bénye Festival, the Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Commerciales d’Angers, and the International Wine Tourism Conference. Gábor also occasionally leads wine tours for Arblaster & Clarke to places such as Vienna, Slovenia and Friuli, and, of course, Hungary. He is also a proud member of the Confrérie de Tokaj (the Tokaj Wine Guild).
CAROLYN BÁNFALVI (co-founder) is an American writer who has lived in Budapest for many years. She is the author of the acclaimed culinary guidebooks Food Wine Budapest (Little Bookroom) and the Food and Wine Lover’s Guide to Hungary: With Budapest Restaurants and Trips to the Wine Country (Park Kiadó). After spending years researching and writing her culinary guidebooks, Carolyn and Gábor founded Taste Hungary in 2008 with the intention of sharing their passion for Hungarian food and wine with like-minded travelers who seek to experience the region’s authentic flavors and experiences. Carolyn has also written for dozens of international magazines and newspapers including Saveur, Afar, CNN.com, Frommer’s, Gourmet.com, Gastronomica, Olive, and The Globe & Mail. Carolyn studied journalism at NYU, holds a culinary degree from a US culinary school, and is currently immersed in the WSET Diploma Course at the Wine Academy in Rust, Austria. She never tires of exploring Budapest (and the region, in her spare time), and is a #winelover ambassador for Budapest. Visit her site to read some of her articles.
TAMÁS (sommelier / shop manager) studied agricultural mechanical engineering in university, but instead followed the path of travel and wine. His passion for wine led him to winery jobs in California and Australia for several years, and then to jobs at various wineries in Hungary. He entered the world of wine retail when he moved to London and spent six years in management at a leading nationwide wine retailer. Tamás moved back to Hungary in 2012 to re-discover the blossoming Hungarian wine scene. He holds a WSET Level 3 certificate, and when not drinking wine, he spends lots of time cycling along the Danube, hiking in the Pilis hills, and fishing.
ANETT (sommelier) followed her dream of living and working abroad in a big way, by working as a flight attendant for one of the biggest airlines in the Gulf region. She flew for almost 5 years, working in first class, serving people from around the world, and traveling in between. She comes from a wine-loving family, and grew up learning to love wine. During her university days she started learning more about wine, and has continued ever since then, most recently completing her WSET Level 3 Certificate. She has traveled to many wine regions, including a cava house next to Barcelona, the wine trails in Stellenbosch, South Africa, a historic quinta in the Douro Valley, and to the Yarra Valley in Australia. She returned to Hungary last year, and is now focusing on exploring the beautiful world of Hungarian wine!
TAMÁS (chef) is a former restaurateur, and an amazing chef. He works as the personal chef at the Portuguese Embassy during the day, and we are lucky to have him as our private chef for our events and special dinners. Tamás previously worked as a pastry chef in Paris, as a chef de partie for the Admiral Agency in London, and as the personal chef for the Angolan Embassy in Budapest. In Budapest he has also owned his own restaurant, and has helped build other restaurant projects. He enjoys doing different things to keep his skills fresh, including recently helping to design the menu of a Budapest salad and sandwich bar; doing food styling for television shows, photo shoots, and commercials; cooking privately for clients; and cooking at a busy little winery in the Mór region. When Tamás designs menus and cooks at the Tasting Table, we are happy to have him transform it into his own little restaurant.
JÚLIA (team manager) helps us with practically everything! From organizing events, tours and tastings to accounting and all-around support, Júlia makes many things happen here. Born and raised in Budapest, Júlia has lived in Belgium, Spain, and Scotland, but a healthy lust for a good harcsapaprikás (catfish stew) has always brought her back to her hometown. She enjoys cooking for her family and friends, shopping at the markets, chatting with vendors, participating in traditional pig slaughters, drinking pálinka, and eating (and drinking) her way through whatever country she is visiting.
GERGELY (better known as Gege) has roots in Sátoraljaújhely, a town in the Tokaj region—perhaps contributing to his early (and continuing) interest in wine. In university he studied agricultural engineering in environmental management (with time spent studying abroad in Spain and France), but these days he is doing something very different: helping introduce our guests at The Tasting Table to the world of Hungarian wine. In his spare time Gergely likes to compensate for the wine by trail running or hiking. In addition to aiming to earn the WSET Diploma, Gergely also hopes to someday complete the Ultra Trail Mount Blanc.