The Producers is a new series highlighting the incredible work done by those responsible for the food and drink that ends up on our tables, whether it's at home or in the world's finest restaurants. While chefs get most of the accolades, it is often the producers who remain unsung heroes of our food system. Here we shine a spotlight upon them and their produce.
Hajdúböszörmény, Hungary. In a small northeastern town, just over two hours from Budapest, Zsóka Fekete runs a mangalitsa pig farm. Known both locally and abroad for her dedication to this traditional and distinctive Hungarian breed of swine, and her award-winning artisanal produce, the 36-year-old's reputation precedes her. “Whoever knows of me, knows I’m a kind of crazy fanatic for mangalitsa.”
Zsóka Fekete posing with her pigs
A trained food engineer and food scientist, Fekete wasn’t expecting to become a full-time mangalitsa farmer when she started out just over a decade ago. The twenty pregnant blond mangalitsa sows her parents once bought to gobble up the leftover Hungarian vegetables grown on their organic farm, multiplied into 50 within a week. Fekete was turned into a mangalitsa breeder overnight.
Fast forward to today, and Fekete's family farm is now home to over 500 pigs, of which nearly 100 are sows, and she prides herself on overseeing all the farm operations in her multifunctional role. There are over 200 managlitsa producers in Hungary, but at her farm they have a unique farm-to-gate approach, from breeding and rearing the pigs, to processing and selling their award-winning fresh and smoked produce.