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Colors on a plate for acceptance—a joint campaign by Madhouse Bistro & WeAreOpen

A plate of food can say a thousand words. You can tell a story about yourself, share a feeling or a thought that’s on your mind, surprise someone, and even open someone’s eyes. Or we can inspire courage and acceptance—just as Madhouse Bistro and WeAreOpen did with a special Pride month menu.

I’ve long said that food is the most perfect medium (so much so that I even wrote a thesis on the subject—the Ed.) It’s great to see more and more people taking advantage of its potential, such as Norbert Piszkor, the chef at Madhouse Bistro. The restaurant opened two years ago in the Anker Alley as the adult gastronomic playground for the domestic brewery Mad Scientist. Norbi has had previous experience with hops, having made chocolate and bonbons with a beery flavor under the name Csokszkomló many years ago, and then discovered a new aspect of confectionery under the guidance of Balázs Divéki. After that, he worked at Panifico il Basilico with Szabolcs Szabadfi and immersed himself in sourdough bread making (where the fermentation processes are very similar to brewing), followed by a small fine dining experience at Tama, known today as Pasztell Restaurant. It was then that he realized that the technological processes and the potential of high gastronomy were quite similar to the finely tuned, consistent world of patisserie, but eager to learn even more, he also attended events at Déryné and +52 Event & Gastro Hall alongside Marci Stoller as a freelance pastry chef. In 2020, he was approached by Tamás Szilágyi, one of the owners of Mad Scientist brewery, who was looking for a chef for the soon-to-open Madhouse—and the rehearsal dinner went so well that the collaboration has continued ever since.

It’s not about bathing everything in beer, but about incorporating hops and malts as unusual, flavor-rich ingredients into dishes in the boldest and most tricky way. As the beer brand itself is constantly innovating, inspiration abounds. That’s why, in addition to the regular selection, there’s always an occasion or a theme around which they create a seasonal menu: for example, there was waffle week, or themed dinners called Chef’s Table. However, in addition to the unbridled experimentation, it was also important from the start to support good causes and support NGOs whenever possible, which is how the idea came about to open a new front during Pride month. Founded in 2013 by Google, Prezi, and espell, WeAreOpen aims to launch campaigns that encourage acceptance “regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, or origin, political, religious, or other beliefs, physical or other conditions”. On the occasion of Pride, Viktória Hitka was asked to design messages encouraging openness which one can take a photo with and thus become part of an accepting community—and Norbi and his team joined in, dreaming up an extraordinary menu.

The dishes are unusual, perhaps a little shocking at first for the less experienced. You can taste dishes that might push you out of your comfort zone, but whose flavors are amazing. The themed menu includes Rainbow Cauliflower (aka colored cauliflower hummus), Coq Pride (Asian rooster testicle with sourdough bread), Call Me by Your Name (Tuscan tripe), Stonewall’s Warriors (beef tongue pastrami, vegetable mille-feuille, and IPA caviar), and for dessert, the Pink Flamingos (sablé breton with verjus and cotton candy), which not only supports the work of the nonprofit but also takes a stand for the LGBTQ community. The Stonewall’s Warriors, for example, is a pretty cheeky dish: alongside the tender beef tongue, sliced paper-thin and smoked with applewood, a plate of cream and butter casserole potato wedges is served with brown butter jus, fermented carrot kimchi and gooseberry, and the signature IPA caviar, which is a beer-cured mustard seed. Although not part of the dish, it’s also highly recommended to try the green strawberry kimchi—it’s tart, tangy, crunchy, playful, and adorable.

It is clear that although Norbi is a pastry chef by trade, he is not afraid to tread the bumpy but exciting path of the chef’s craft, and the complexity and roguish coolness of the dishes reflect his talent and dedication. The menu is available until July 24, after which another collaboration is in the pipeline, but it’s also worth a visit to Mad Garden in Óbuda or Mad Kert on Maglódi út for a summer taco or other street foods. In addition, both are just as cozy and friendly as the 160-seat House, so you’re guaranteed a good time. It is also worth going to one of the Mads just for the local designers and local producers (e.g. vegetables from Boldizsar of Farm2Fork, coffee from Casino Mocca, ceramics from Luca Tar, and Ádám Szabó, rugs by Berber). Just be open—let that always be the guiding principle.

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