Photo by Jen Saffron
Peter Gurbacs, from Papa, Hungary, was hired in November by Huszar owners Judy and Michael Torma.
By Alyse Horn
Huszar, 627 E. North Ave., is one of few authentic Hungarian restaurants in the city. Recently, owners Judy and Michael Torma have upped the ante by hiring Peter Gurbacs, a rising culinary talent and European Union-certified Chef from Hungary.
Gurbacs cooks up daily specials and has also established a lunch and dinner menu that includes Chicken Paprikas, Goulash, Bakonyi Steak, and sweet and savory crepes called Palacsinta’s.
Judy said Gurbacs dishes taste “just like my grandmother’s old school Hungarian cuisine.”
Judy’s parents, Steven and Emerencia Banai, immigrated to the United States during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. For years, they owned and ran the Recovery Room, which was situated in the current location of Huszar’s.
Judy met her husband Michael in Hungary when she was studying abroad in 1986.
Naturally, the Torma’s travelled to Hungary to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. Coincidentally, while celebrating at a restaurant in Papa, Hungary, a favorite spot of Judy’s father, they met Gurbacs.
“We’re so fortunate that Peter agreed to pull up stakes and move to Pittsburgh, join us in this incredible journey, and pursue his own American Dream — much like my Mom and Dad did 60 years ago,” Judy said.
Gurbacs was granted a cultural exchange visa, allowing him to travel to the US and share his Hungarian cultural expertise. He is a Master Chef in the European Union, which is awarded after completion of a one-year program consisting of advanced food courses and fluency in an additional language. The title is only available to culinary professionals with at least 10 years’ experience and a recommendation from a current Master Chef.
“It’s a great honor to be here in this country and I’m so excited to fulfill Judy and Michael’s vision and share my passion with Pittsburgh,” said Gurbacs. “Part of celebrating my native Hungarian cuisine is by taking a fresh approach to these classic dishes.”
Judy said Huszar is a dining experience, and she wants her restaurant to give people a chance to indulge in “phenomenal comfort food.”
“People can come in and reflect on old school days gone by,” Judy said. “Younger kids don’t know old school Pittsburgh. [Huszar] is a cultural representation of the people who built this city.”
As the weather gets warmer, Judy said they will be hosting outdoor events, such as the coveted bacon roast. Currently, every other Thursday, there is free live music with Gypsy Stringz.
For more information, visit www.huszarpittsburgh.com, www.facebook.com/huszarpgh or call (412) 322-8795.