Xpat Interview: Vernon Strachan, Executive Chef, Zsidai Group

  • 25 Feb 2019 6:04 PM
Xpat Interview: Vernon Strachan, Executive Chef, Zsidai Group
Vernon joined the Zsidai Group in November 2016, and he has been responsible for all the Zsidai outlets since then.

He arrived from London, where he was responsible for 3 Hilton units, so it can be rightly said he really has considerable experience. His initial task at the Zsidai was to create and establish systems required by a group running 10 restaurants.

Since his arrival he has coordinated several restaurant openings in Hungary and also abroad. His colleagues turn to him with trust due to his great professional knowledge and his proven track-record as an excellent leader.

He moved from London to Budapest is because he fell in love with a Hungarian lady – who is his wife by now – as she wanted to move back to Hungary from the UK. When she came up with the idea, Vernon said he would also come if he found a suitable job ripe with professional challenges. The Zsidai Group is happy he found what he was looking for with them.

1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in South Africa in a town called Bethlehem.

2. If you could be an expat anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
I would choose Japan cause I love the culture and would really like to be immersed into that way of life.

3. What would you miss most if you moved away from Hungary?
The buzz of the city, the busy summers with all the  music festivals, wine festivals and the short breaks to lake Balaton and also the yearly sausage making in the winter.

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
They have to visit one of the many markets in the city for some shopping fresh produce and eating langos and sausage  a walk in the castle area visiting hero square and parliament is a must  as well as going up to the statue of liberty and in the evening a visit to the Goszdu Spiler.

5. What is your favourite food?
As a chef this is a very difficult one but if I had to choose it would be liver, hurka, goose liver, offal all these types of dishes that is also quite famous in Hungary so I am always spoiled for choice here. 

6. What is your favourite sport / form of exercise?
There is something I really love to do but only in winter is to walk around the city  in the cold and really breath in the cold air if not that I go to gym and do cardio, and also hiking in the summer. 

7. What is your favourite place in Hungary?
I really like Szekszárd this is my favourite area and we do a yearly small break in a cottage where we walk around the vineyards and just drink wine.

8. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
If I was not a chef I would be in the military or private security if not that the my second option would be  design and construction, I am fascinated, great architecture and spaces that is unusual.

9. What’s a job you would definitely never want?
I think the hardest job is a ER doctor and although I like the idea of saving lives this is a very difficult job and I think if there is one job I would not take on its  that.

10. Where did you spend your last vacation?
Italy and Slovenia it was a road trip to Lake Como, lake Bled and also lake Garda.

11. Where do you hope to spend your next one?
My next holidays will be in Berlin, Krakow and also Stockholm there might be  another one depending on how much time I have. 

12.  What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
My favourite band as teen was Pearl Jam and is still my favourite, hobbies was mainly hunting and camping, my favourite movie is tears of the sun with Bruce Willis  

13. Apart of temptation what can't you resist?
As chef I have a natural addictive personality I think its a hard one, I cannot resist a good Single malt or Champagne 

14. Red wine or white?
Red for sure 

15. Book or movie?

16. Morning person or night person?
Night Owl.

17. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
For me the most important issue is homelessness everyone no matter who needs a home and society, government , council and citizens  should do more to tackle this. If I had more time and recourses I would really do something to impact this as it’s very close to my heart and I think its important.

18. Buda or Pest side?
Pest side as I am also a bit rough around the edges :-)

19. Which achievement in your life are you most pleased about?
I think there is so many that it would be hard to choose , I think every-time I stand back and see a new restaurant and fully functioning kitchen I feel a great sense of achievement. 

20. What would you say is your personal motto?
I have a family motto and its Latin Non Timeo Sed Caveo I live by this motto and it means I do not fear but tread carefully.

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