Huszar’s founder, Judy Torma, behind the bar with a picture of her parents, December 2016
1956 was the year that changed my family’s life. My parents and two brothers — who were only toddlers at the time — fled Hungary, after the fallout of the Hungarian Revolution, and emigrated to the country they knew as “Amerika.”
With Huszár, we reach back to our roots. My mom would often tell stories of her family life in Hungary, and my dad would often reflect upon his military service there that he was so proud of. However, it was the stories of my grandfather being a proud Huszár, handpicked to serve as an elite soldier on horseback, that I draw my inspiration from. Their stories instilled me with a deep pride in my heritage.
As their journey brought my parents to Pittsburgh, they immediately embraced their new country’s culture and lifestyle to pursue their American Dream. My father, Steve Banai, was a 40-year bar and tavern owner in the Northside. My mother, Emerencia — who loved to cook –took a job with a catering company, mostly to get paid for something she loved to do.
She once had the honor of preparing a catered event for President George H.W. Bush while he was campaigning in Pittsburgh. Whether at work or at home, every day was a happy day for her, her friends, and her family when she was cooking.
Huszár honors their legacy while embracing the present and promoting the future.
My family instilled in me pride in my Hungarian heritage and love for my American Country ~ which is what we celebrate every day at Huszár.
My favorite quote from my mom that will forever stay with me is: “If you have two hands, and two eyes and a dream, anything is possible!” And she proved that to us all, with her elementary education and English as a second language, that cooking for the President of the United States was possible.