After graduating from high school in Vienna in the 1980s, I went to Paris for twelve years, where I studied art history and philosophy. In addition to studying for a doctorate, I worked as a cook, waiter, and barman in the restaurant Zephyr in Paris.
In search of myself and my Austro-Hungarian and Italian roots, I then took a seven-year detour via Yeshivah and Kollel in Bnei Brak, an ultra-orthodox suburb of Tel Aviv. There, together with my wife and children, I was able to get to know and live the religious laws and customs related to eating, cooking, and baking.
Back again in Vienna, I founded and manage this website/blog, Jewish Viennese Food. I prepare the blog posts together with my wife and children. Due to demand, I now offer cooking and baking classes, as well as gourmet tours through the city.
I hope to see you soon in the heart of Vienna, or at least, see you back here on this website!
A few more or less fun facts about me:
- Born in the early 1970s on the way from Paris to Budapest.
- The 1970s were the era of Bruno Kreisky1 as a social-democratic chancellor of Austria. During that decade, the famous assimilated and agnostic Jew publicly quarreled with Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal of poor Eastern European descent, over the way to deal with former Nazis, supporting Israel and Jewish identity in general.2
- I grew up speaking almost exclusively Hungarian in Vienna. I had to learn proper Austrian German at the age of 6, upon entering school in Vienna.
- My mother doesn’t like to cook. (She is a terrible cook indeed – sorry Mami.) My father, however, does not cook at all, except, evidently, barbecuing. (Instead, he likes to row real Venetian Gondolas, whether in Venice or Vienna.)
- I was a teenager in 1986, the year the Waldheim affair shook the country when a former intelligence officer in the Wehrmacht, member of the NSDAP3 and the SA4 became president of Austria.
- On April 26th, 1986, the day of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, we were told we shouldn’t go out in the rain anymore, nor chew on grass. No more foraging for mushrooms in the Vienna Woods, as Sigmund Freud loved to do with his family.
- The famous Vincennes University, the University of Paris VIII – of Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Alain Badiou, Jean Narboni, and many others – was where I studied History of Art, Philosophy, and Film for more than a decade!
- In the late nineties, I worked, lived, and loved in Le Zephyr, a rather well-rated cozy and bohemian French restaurant/bistro in Paris’ 20th arrondissement. (The friends and owners, a Jewish-Berber couple of Algerian immigrants, have unfortunately sold the place since, and the operation has been turned into a regular café. The charming art deco atmosphere is still there though.)
- On 9/11 at 9 o’clock, I was eating French toast when I saw the smoking towers from a rooftop in Crown Heights.
- Later, I lived in Israel for seven years with my family in Bnei-Brak, a suburb of Tel-Aviv, where we ran a little photo studio.
- Right now, we are living and working in Vienna, relying heavily on the city’s many wonderful coffeehouses. As they say about Viennese coffeehouses: There’s one you’d use as your office, another one as your living room, and still another that serves as your salon. And then there’s the one you’d never go to.
- “Why Vienna?” asked me the magazine WINA for its 2017 June edition. Have a look at my short answer, if only to see the excellent picture Ronnie Niedermeyer took of me at Café Korb.
- Lastly, here’s the Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot “Foodish” newsletter about my family’s gefilt fish recipe.
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- Austria’s most notable post-World-War-II politician. The social democrat leader established the small country on the world stage. See Wikipedia on Bruno Kreisky for more.
- Kreisky–Peter–Wiesenthal affair (Wikipedia)
- Germany’s Nazi Party (1920-1945)
- The SA (German for Sturmabteilung, literally “Storm Detachment”) was the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party (NSDAP).
Here’s some recent news “Feeling Down? Scientists Say Cooking and Baking Could Help You Feel Better.” http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/feeling-down-scientists-say-cooking-and-baking-may-help-you-feel-better-180961223/
Very interesting story! Let’s Meet soon.
Excellent idea ;-) I sent you a message.
Wow, what an amazing story. You make me want to visit Vienna! I love Paul Celan. His poetry is so evocative and haunting.
Thank you, Miriam! Don’t hesitate to visit Vienna, especially for the coffee houses, the cakes and a couple of good museums.