Skip to content

Culinary Institute of Europe

In January, our founder, Maki Stevenson, was honoured by the Japanese government for her work

After being awarded the title of Goodwill Ambassador of Japanese Cuisine by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 2017, Maki Stevenson, founder of Makifood and the Culinary Institute of Europe, received another prestigious award in January 2024: the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Medal of Honour for his work.

It was a great honour for our school to learn that the Japanese Foreign Minister felt that our founder, Maki Stevenson’s work in the field of gastronomy deserved to be recognised at the national level. The Foreign Minister’s Award is given to outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to the promotion of friendship between Japan and other countries. It is intended as a formal expression of the Japanese government’s gratitude for the efforts made to promote the culture of the island nation, while also raising awareness of the field in which the recipient is active.

The Ambassador of Japan, Otaka Masato gave a speech at the event.

Maki Stevenson received the award for her significant contribution to the promotion and dissemination of Japanese gastronomy in Hungary. The award is in recognition of Maki’s work over the past 20 years, living in Budapest and working to bring the island’s culinary delights closer to the Hungarian people and foreigners visiting Hungary.

“Through various seminars, presentations and lectures, he has contributed greatly to the promotion of friendship and good relations between Japan and Hungary,” said Japanese Ambassador to Hungary Otaka Masato at the event, where Maki Stevenson was presented with the award at a ceremony.

Maki Stevenson receives the award from Mr Otaka Masato.

In 2006, Maki started running cooking classes in her own kitchen, where gastronomy enthusiasts could explore beyond sushi to the special ingredients, cooking techniques and umami-rich flavours of Japanese cuisine. Thus began the story of Makifood, which has evolved organically over the years into a true cooking school, where dozens of cooking classes are held every year for nearly a thousand people, led by renowned chefs in a professional kitchen. The cooking courses allow people to explore the cuisine of Vietnam and Israel, make hamburgers and pies or learn to work with fish, but the Japanese courses are still the backbone of Makifood. In addition to the classes led by Chef Maki, Japanese gastronomic experts living in Japan regularly visit our kitchen to share their knowledge, such as Kurita Junko, who teaches guests about Japanese desserts and teas, Mineta Yoshiharu, owner and head chef of Komachi Bistro, who gives a udon noodle workshop, and Hirose Yoshihito, who teaches authentic sushi making.

Ambassador Otaka Masato, Maki Stevenons and family

“I was very touched when I found out that I was going to receive this award, and I was unsure if they really wanted to give it to me, because we are just a small family business, my husband and I run the schools… This award is a recognition of the hard work of the past decades, and proof that it was worth waiting downstairs with the pram to finish the cooking class in our kitchen. We are making small but organic and steady progress, and I am excited to see what the future holds for us,” said Maki Stevenson after receiving the award from Ambassador Otaka Masato.

Thank you to everyone who has helped Makifood and CIE achieve its mission over the past nearly two decades!

The next stage in this evolution was the creation of the Culinary Institute of Europe in 2016, a professional culinary school where we train the next generation of chefs. In addition to three one-year programmes (Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts, Vet Chef), students will gain the knowledge and experience to find a job in the field of gastronomy. Once they have obtained a certificate from the institute, they can sit a state exam and become a professional. In addition, the institute organizes regular events for representatives of the Hungarian gastronomic scene to showcase Japanese cuisine, such as the hyganatsu (a Japanese citrus), wagyu and sake tasting at the CIE, where the professional audience was able to sample new flavours.

While the award is a celebration of the hard work of the past decades, it is also a confirmation of the value of our work, which we will continue to pursue in the future.