Maki Stevenson – alias Chef Maki, as she is known in Hungary – was born into a food obsessed family. She learnt to savor gourmet foods at an early age. Maki was trained in New York City at Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts and worked in various restaurants including Megu and Craft. Her style is slow food, pure ingredients, nutritionally balanced and with hint of flavors from faraway places. She has a cookery school in Budapest, Hungary.
Photo from Makifood Cookery School
ZK: What shall we know about you?
MS: I was born in Japan, spent half of my life there and other half in the USA. I have a masters degree in music from Texas Christian University where I met my husband. I came to visit him after graduation and that was my first encounter with Hungary.
ZK: When did you start cooking?
MS: Every since I was a kid. My parents were a gourmet and my mom also had cooking classes so we always ate well. 🙂
ZK: How did the cooking become a way of livelihood?
MS: When I decided to go to culinary school and work in NYC restaurants in 2003.
ZK: Japan? USA? or Hungary? Which one do you prefer?
MS: Hmmmm… tough one. For food, Japan or USA. For relaxed lifestyle, Hungary.
ZK: What do you think is the strangest Hungarian eating/cooking habit?
MS: To boil/cook vegetables to death. Throwing away perfectly edible parts of vegetables. The amount of meat products consumed daily.
ZK: What do you miss from Japan?
MS: Everything from baths, rice, markets, blue skies in the winter, attention to details, courteousness, punctuality. And of course my family.
ZK: What was the most interesting, the most special dish you have ever made? Was it a success?
MS: I don’t remember if I’ve made THE most special dish. Any dish is special if it’s the right food for the company. You cook, have the most special food but with a bad company, it can taste so wrong.
ZK: Favourite Hungarian meal?
MS: Varies from time to time. At the moment ‘meggyes pite’. But the other day it was ‘babgulyás’.
ZK: Favourite Japanese meal?
MS: Nattoh with mekabu!! I will eat this on my death bed!!
ZK: Where did you get your ingredients for the cooking?
MS: I’m a local patriot. I buy pretty much everything at Lehel market or organic shops in the neighborhood.
ZK: You have traveled so far a lot. What was the most memorable food you have eaten? And why?
MS: Again, can’t pick one. Chicken soup made by Karin tribe people in northern Thailand was delicious after 9 hours hike, and also because of the fact that they raised that animal themselves and slaughtered it just for us. Ratatouille made over campfire at a beach in southern Sweden, accompanied by good wine and fresh baked baguettes by sister-in-law, watching a perfect sunset followed by full moon. Food takes on a magical flavor when good energy and love is added.
ZK: You are preparing another kind of journey now. I think we can tell the readers that you are becoming a very happy mum soon. How will this influence the operation of Makifood Cookery School? Will there be courses in the future?
MS: We will be needing more outside help but plan on resuming fall semester as usual. More guest teachers are in the plans as well as extending our courses to include more health supportive topics.
ZK: Thank you for the interview Maki. May the next months bring you many pleasure and outstanding health with your baby and strength for the new start!