Tradition and Evolution at Gerbeaud Café
For more than 150 years Gerbeaud has defined what we know as a café and confectionery. Our fame is due in part to our creative confectioners who, in addition to guarding tradition, continually surprise our guests with new products, cakes, pastries.
The confectioners pass down their knowledge from one generation to the next; skillful hands guide the many apprentices who start their lives every year in this genuine confectionery workshop. Workshop. Perhaps that is the best term for Gerbeaud. A professional team where they value and evaluate each other’s work.
The crux of our philosophy is that we craft our products using only the highest quality, fresh ingredients. Our goal is to offer our guest, in addition to the traditional Hungarian products, unique, esthetic, cakes and pastries that can be found nowhere else in the country. Our task is to introduce new flavours and textures to those who are enthusiastic about gourmet foods, and to assist them in their discovery of good, quality products. We strive to resurrect flavours from the rich past of Hungarian confectionery, and to recreate them in forms appropriate to modern tastes and ingredients. This renovation does not mean breaking with the past—on the contrary, it is on the past that we build our future. Embracing new techniques, ingredients, tools, forms, equipment, and appliances, however, is indispensable.
With our desserts we want to pamper all the senses. For baked good, as with just about anything else, first impressions are the most important—and for this reason we want to offer not just a culinary, but an esthetic experience as well.
Besides the classic Dobos cake, Esterházy cake and Gerbeaud slice, Gerbeaud Café offers such culinary delights as the Orange-Caramel, Royal Chocolate, and the lightly Basil-Lemon.
From classics that are forever capable of being transformed, we create exciting new products that are light and elegant, and which suit today’s tastes.
We dare to dream sweet dreams!
The History of Gerbeaud
The tradition-rich history of Gerbeaud began in 1858 with Henrik Kugler, the third descendent of a confectionery dynasty. During his years of travel and as an apprentice, Kugler perfected his specialized knowledge of his art in eleven European metropolises, including Paris. The influence of this experience is recognizable to this day.
Kugler opened his first café on what is now József nádor Square. Because of the tastefully furnished salon, the assortment of Chinese and Russian tea specialities, and "the best ice-creams in Pest," it soon became a wellknown meeting place.
In 1870, Henrik Kugler moved his business to Vörösmarty Square, where he could offer his delicacies from the centre of the city. Kugler’s frothy coffee with chocolate, his special liqueurs and his bon-bons drew in crowds. The Kugler tortes and mignons were not only well-loved, but could be wrapped on a paper tray to take-away, an innovation of Kugler’s. Famous personalities such as Franz Deák and Franz Liszt were among the patrons of the café. In 1881, Kugler’s was called "the meeting point of six elegant worlds."
Henrik Kugler met Emil Gerbeaud for the first time in 1882, in Paris. He invited him a year later to Budapest in order to make him his business partner.
Gerbeaud’s extraordinary talent and his enterprising spirit gave the business added impetus, and accounted for the unique success story of Gerbeaud‘s. Born in Geneva, and like Kugler, coming from a family of confectioners, he travelled as a young man to England, France and Germany, acquiring international experience. In 1889, he entered Kugler’s business, which he gradually overtook.
Emil Gerbeaud took on a great number of new employees in both sales and service. He introduced numerous innovations: he included among the café’s offerings exceptional, new products, he created hundreds of biscuits, sweets, bon-bons and cherry liqueur bon-bons. He equipped his bakery with modern machines. By the end of the century, he had approximately 150 employees, many of whom had come to Budapest specifically to work for him. The name Gerbeaud soon become wellknown and respected.
With good businness sense, Emil Gerbeaud continued for decades to use the name of his predecessor, Henrik Kugler.
His quality was of the highest order. His baked goods were beautifully decorated, his sweets and bon-bons were packaged in artistic paper boxes of his own design. He strove to make a visit to Gerbeaud an experience for his guests.
The plans for the interior decoration of the café were completed by the artisan Henrik Darilek in the years after 1910. Fine woods, marble and bronze were used. The ceilings were decorated with rococo plaster work in Louis XV style; the chandeliers and wall lamps were created in Maria Theresa Style. Gerbeaud had secessionist style tables sent from the Paris World Fair so that the elegant ambiance would be perfect. During this time, however, the effects of the First World War were felt ever more strongly, even in the Gerbeaud House.
Although Emil Gerbeaud survived the difficult war years, he died on November 8, 1919.
His wife Esther took an active part in the management of the business until 1940, always careful to maintain its high standards. At her death, her contemporaries said of her: "She will no longer sit there her creamy-white hair, in her silk dresses, to control whether or not the coffee with whipped cream in the fine China cups is served promptly and tastefully, and whether the silver tray under the chocolate is shiny enough.
Emil Gerbeaud was an enigmatic personality. His secret lay in his constant attention to the quality and perfection of his products. He was an artist in his profession, whose new ideas continually developed. To his splendid café he brought a French spirit and a Parisian atmosphere, which was happily embraced by the Pest public.
From 1950 to March 1984, the café bore the name "Vörösmarty." Since then, it is once again "Gerbeaud".The new owner had the café lavishly renovated in 1997, to restore the magic of the past to the present, complete, inconspicuously, with the most modern technology.
In 1997, following a full year of reconstruction (during which the café remained open every single day) the renovation of Gerbeaud was completed, and if possible, the building was more beautiful than it had ever been.
Since 2004, Gerbeaud House has been operated by Gerbeaud Gasztronómia Kft., a company founded by the Gerbeaud management. The Hungarian owners’ commitment to quality and progress is one of the secrets of Gerbeaud’s constant popularity. Gerbeaud’s motto today could be “Where tradition and innovation meet.”
Gerbeaud House today is not just a confectionery—it now offers practically every type of catering and hospitality service available. There is the Café itself with its turn-of-the-century atmosphere, the Bistro with foods prepared by our own butcher, the 1 Michelin star Onyx Restaurant offering sumptuous gourmet flavours, and the numerous banquet and reception halls which make the House Budapest’s most multi-faceted events locations.
Over the past century and a half, Gerbeaud Café has numbered among its guests the cream of society and practically every famous person who has visited Budapest. A few impressive names from our guest register: Empress Elizabeth of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; Ferenc Deák; Franz Liszt: King George of Great Britain; Edward, Prince of Wales; Josephine Baker. More recently, Princess Diana, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Queen Elizabeth II, former Austrian chancellor Franz Vranitzky, former Czech president Vacláv Hável. And from the world of stars: Madonna, Ralph Fiennes, Melanie Griffith, Antonio Banderas, Brad Pitt…