YKRA FACES: ROZINA WOSSALA
In our series, YKRA Faces, we introduce some Budapest-based creatives, who tell us stories about their daily routines and working methods and also give us a glimpse of what they keep in their YKRA backpacks.
Our fourth guest is Rozina Wossala, gastronaut.
Please introduce yourself and your professional background for us!
I like defining myself as a gastronaut as I am interested in all aspects of gastronomy. My interest originates in my childhood. My mother raised me alone but she really gave me everything I needed. Except that she wasn’t a very experienced cook, so to speak. One day, when I was about 10-12 years old, I decided to prepare a dish: I ended up making grill chicken soaked in milk and I seasoned it with cinnamon, garlic and lemon. I invited my friends over and that was the moment when I realized how food can bring a community together. I fell in love with this experience and after this moment, it was obvious that this is what I want to do.
In the past 3 years, I spent most of my time on TV shows, but these days I try to cut back on them. I still have my own TV show titled Profi a konyhámban (Expert in my kitchen) where I visit famous and infamous people to cook from what I can find in their kitchen and they need to try and copy what I prepared for them. Now I focus most of my energy on my restaurant, Bestia, as this gives me the greatest pleasure. We opened it 5 years ago and there is a fantastic community around it! I also love travelling and, of course, I also build my trips around gastronomic experiences. When I have time, I try to meet locals, and I usually take over their kitchen in a second, even though I really love if others cook for me. In Hungary, most people have stage fright so they don’t dare to cook for me, except for my very close friends who know that I really love home-made meals. Luckily, I don’t have this problem abroad.
How does a day look like for you?
My life doesn’t follow a traditional rhythm, so every day is different. I am my own boss which is both a blessing and a curse: there are days when I work 24/7, but sometimes I spend a whole weekday afternoon lying in bed and watching TV series. I try to be in the restaurant at least five times a week, either in the afternoon or in the evening. For me, the dearest part of running this place is composing and finetuning the menu with our chef. There’s a constant change in our recipes and offers, as we believe it is very important that we use the best quality ingredients and drinks. But it is also equally crucial to create great experiences for our guests. From the moment they enter our door until they say goodbye, it is a well-composed choreography consisting of a lot elements: lights, atmosphere, music, the behaviour of our waiters – things that the guests don’t pay attention to but what fundamentally influence their experience.
How did you choose your backpack and what do you keep in it?
When I went on a surfing trip in Sri Lanka, organized by Beyond the Standard, I was
searching for a backpack that’s neither too small nor big, and all the important things can fit that I need on my travels.
V60: I always drink filter coffee, so I had to find the perfect dripper that I can bring with me on my travels. I finally found one made of steel and it seems to be quite enduring.
Smoked salt: I always keep some high-quality salt with me.
Book: This is Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, it will be my next read when I’m
travelling. I barely have time for reading these days, but I try to compensate it when I travel.
Notebook: I mostly keep recipes in it, for example, if I encounter something interesting on my travels or if I have an idea, I also write it down in here. I’m always thinking about the future, I consider it the first phase of creation.
Camera: I usually take photos of my gastronomical experiences.
Jungle tobacco: I’ve never been a smoker but I tried this tobacco in Peru and I really liked it, so I purchased a bigger amount. You don’t even have to inhale it, it’s more like a ritual, so I always bring some with me for my trips, as well.
Wine opener: You always need to have a wine opener with you!