The Food Legacy of a Holocaust Survivor
One block from Budapest’s gigantic Keleti station is Tibor Rosenstein’s eponymous restaurant. The entrance is in a quiet, unassuming residential area away from the city’s traditional culinary hubs. But like a temple, Restaurant Rosenstein is a unique monument to historic Jewish-Hungarian cuisine – attracting Jewish celebrities, TV personalities and foodie globetrotters eager to taste the past.
“My personal cuisine and dishes are traditional Hungarian Jewish cuisine,” Rosenstein said. This includes goose sausage and cholent, the traditional Jewish Sabbath stew left to cook overnight. Rosenstein’s secret ingredient is ground paprika – perhaps the most beloved spice in all of Hungarian cuisine.
An estimated 100,000 Jews remained in Budapest after the Soviet liberation on February 13, 1945. Many families who remained in the country relegated their Jewish heritage as a trivial aspect of their identity, leaving children to discover it only later in life. life. Today, the community is thriving again, primarily in the historic Jewish quarter surrounding the famous Dohány Synagogue, one of the largest synagogues in the world. Jewish, mostly kosher restaurants have since sprung up in the neighborhood, including more recently the city’s first and only kosher fast-food establishment, Kosher MeatUp. Rosenstein’s is unique in the city for its obvious Jewish backbone.
Not that the restaurant is frozen in the past, replaying an old formula without ever adapting. Soon it will have its own kosher coffee roaster to accompany its existing selection of kosher beers – the logo of which features a stencil of Rosenstein’s charismatic smile topped with a kippa (a yarmulke or skullcap). The pandemic prevented him from releasing a cookbook for the restaurant’s 25th anniversary, but plans are underway to release one in honor of the 30th anniversary in 2025.
Suffice it to say, Rosenstein won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
“I keep the fire going through my dishes, or by welcoming and serving a large number of Jewish guests from abroad,” he said, which he attributes in part to his appearance in a 2017 episode of Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods.