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1010 Vienna, Stubentor


Balazs Szekelyhidi aka Roxx Hydi tells us about his journey from the rock stage to the kitchen and why he thrives in both worlds

We have long agreed within the team: The food at Viva la Mamma is a unique interpretation of Italian cuisine that sets itself apart from typical idyllic and romantic clichés. From the moment you enter the restaurant, you feel the fascinating combination of classical elegance and urban flair. Wild, rough, and equally smooth. A hint of Rock 'n' Roll is in the air. If you feel it, you sense how it gently wafts from the kitchen along with the aroma of pizza and pasta.

To the rhythm of rock classics from the jukebox, our kitchen team cooks with such passionate dedication that you can feel the pure energy, honest and unfiltered.

Leading the way is our head chef, Balazs Szekelyhidi aka Roxx Hydi, who embodies Rock 'n' Roll in a unique way. Previously the lead singer of his rock band, now he is our head chef.

To us, he is a role model for how pure passion can be lived in all its facets. It was all the more important to us to tell you his story and give you an insight into this soul that cooks with all his heart for Mamma and you.

"I always wanted to make people happy, whether with music or good food."

From Rockstar in the UK to Head Chef in Vienna. How did this extraordinary career path come about?

That's a long story. I come from a very musical family, so I started making music at the age of 12. The passion for cooking came at the age of 20 thanks to my sister. She was already teaching at a catering school in our home country Hungary and asked me if I wanted to attend it as well. From then on, I both made music and cooked. Since then, a lot of time has passed and I had many jobs in various kitchens. But no matter where life took me, I always tried to go my own way.

What parallels are there between the two careers?

Definitely the creativity. It's the same. Of course, I now express my creative side more in the kitchen, but it's similar to music. You have to understand what fits together when writing a song or composing a melody. It's about understanding harmony. And that's the same with food. The color, the taste, the appearance – everything has to harmonize. Moreover, you have to show your true self on both stages. Musically, through lyrics or live performances. When cooking, every dish you put on the table reflects you.

Which special moment do you remember from your time as a singer?

Once we played in the Budapest Arena in front of 15,000 people. I couldn't sleep for two days afterward because the amount of energy you get from the people at that moment on stage is so incredible. You could feel it, touch it. I could take a lot of positive things from that because it's nice to see that people like what you do. That's the best feeling.

And now you evoke that through your dishes? 

Hopefully! I always wanted to make people happy, whether with music or good food. I want to create something for them in my personal way. Without many rules, because I can't deal well with those. I had to learn that about myself first.

How exactly?

I worked for three months in a Michelin-star restaurant in London. Everything there was very strict. You had to place this here and that there with millimeter precision – that wasn't for me. I couldn't express myself.

So it's important for you to cook in your own style. How would you describe it? 

It depends on the day. I like emotions, depth, strength. Sometimes I'm also very romantic. What characterizes my style – whether in cooking or as a musician – is that I always give 200% of myself. My mom always said: "If you only give 100%, it's not enough. You have to give 200% and then you're back at 100%." And I try to implement that. Both in the kitchen and in music. I think that unites these two dimensions as well.

Balazs as Leader from the band "Wasted Sinners" in 2009

In which music style do you now cook at Viva la Mamma?

Definitiv not Jazz. I think Glam Rock. Glamorous, sparkling, like Hollywood or LA, where it comes from. The old bands I grew up with.

For example? 

Motley Crue or Guns N' Roses. Because these bands have emotional songs too, not just rough ones. For Viva la Mamma, the song "Shout at the Devil" by Motley Crue wouldn't fit, whereas "Home Sweet Home" perfectly reflects the comfort factor in the restaurant.

Which dish is your favourite to cook at Viva la Mamma? 

I like many for specific reasons. The ragu, for example, because I love arranging it beautifully so that it looks like a pyramid on the plate. I like to prepare truffle pasta just because of the smell. It's hard to choose one dish because in my years as a chef at Viva la Mamma, I was also part of the creations. So all recipes are like my own children that I have raised.

Cooking or singing? Which stage would you choose if you had to?

I would put them on the same level. Music has accompanied me since I can remember. And cooking is also a important part of my life because I like to express my personality through it.


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