Mario Berruti, Viennese & Italian Flavors Made Connecting Food and Friends via CookRadar a Reality

Many of our members have visited Vienna – and Mario Berruti lived there a while. I really wanted to have his experiences recorded – and later on I want to hear what he thinks about living in Boston which I find very different than Vienna. I never have gotten to know Boston well and would love to hear others’ experiences. In Mario’s case I am also interested in learning about his start-up CookRadar.

Tell us about yourself – who are you and what would be the “short story” of your life ?

My name is Mario Berruti, I grew up in Turin, Italy, actually the first Italian capital: city of tradition, culture, sport, art, cars, chocolate, coffee and the city of the Holy Shroud.
I studied International Management at the University of Turin, worked for three years in an international accounting firm, and then I decided to move on and “discover” the World working and living in England, Ireland and Switzerland, before coming to Vienna.
It happened to be due to working reasons, that I moved around a lot, but, deeply I owe all to a desire of experiencing new cultures, meeting new people from all over the planet, discovering new cities like London, Dublin, Bern, and Vienna, with all the positive and emotional excitement: starting a new life, building a new network of friends, challenging myself out of my comfort zone, was not always easy: an act of adventure and courage that I am proud of having done, as it opened my view and way of thinking.
By the way, time flies and I have now moved to Boston, working on a start-up about peer-to-peer home-made food exchange, called CookRadar, “connecting people through home-made food”.

Do you think living in Vienna in any way enhanced your work and life experience?

I think living in Vienna helped me a lot in finding a perfect work and life balance.
The artistic and cultural program offered by the Opera, the Musikverein, the Albertina, the Museumquartier area, coupled with the long and warm seasons of Spring and Summer, enjoying time with friends at the “heuriger”, at the“Biergarten” in the Altes AKH, or biking in the Wachau and Neusiederlsee region, just made my time in Vienna an happy and memorable moment of my life.
I wasn’t able to appreciate my time so profoundly, hadn’t I found a group of close Viennese and International friends, Eurocircle being one of the most representative, who embraced me and introduced me to the real Vienna.
I am so grateful to have met many people who helped me a lot feeling at home, and with whom I shared part of my journey.

Anything truly memorable that happened to you while you lived in Vienna?

What about jogging around the park of the Schönbrunn Palace on Sundays, or enjoying the Spittelberg and Karlsplatz Christmas markets or enjoying the variety of food in the summer time at the Rathau? These are little memorable things I will be always bringing with me and looking back to with great pleasure!

What is THE thing about Vienna that captivates you the most vs. your home town in Italy?

Many, many things…

Above all, the international attitude and the elegance of Viennese people. We have to remember that Vienna was the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its geographical location, exactly in the middle between the East and West, South and Central Europe, has shaped its culture and the way its people think: I have been captivated by the curiosity and the openness of the Viennese.
I loved, sometimes, when finishing late at work, passing by some of the famous Viennese cafes and being literally attracted by their warm and welcoming lights, and by the pleasure people inside were reading their books or chatting one with the other, no matter it was already late in the night!

If someone asked you what I should NOT miss while in Vienna what would reply?

The view over the city, the Danube and the vineyards from Kahlenberg.
Another place I love is the view from the “Gloriette”, in the Schönbrunn Palace park.

What did you do in Vienna when you felt like you just want to chill out vs. in Italy…??

In winter, definitely sipping “gluhwein” (mulled wine) while wandering around, through the Christmas markets with friends, as opposed to the hot chocolate experience in my home-town Turin.
In summer, simply discovering a new “heuriger” in the Grinzing area, as opposed to relaxing at the beach bar sipping ice-coffee!

What really annoyed you about Vienna – or maybe nothing does? Italy…

About Vienna: closing hours of supermarkets and shops (too early), and the sirens alarm once a year that wakes me up from my deep sleep!
Also about Vienna: the snobbishness of its cafes’ waiters, but this is attributable to a long tradition…
About Italy: bureaucracy, politicians, people who don’t pay taxes, but drive in “fast and suv” car, ideology, corruption.

Do you have a favorite Vienna restaurants/areas/places and why? What do you think about the typical Austrian/Viennese food and cuisine in general compared to Italian…what stands out for you?

I like the “Zum Schwarzen Adler” in Schonbrunner Strasse, especially their autumn menu and their own brewed beers. Typical traditional Viennese place I used to bring my parents when visiting me in Vienna.
“Wirtshaus Zum Leupold” for its Wiener Schnitzel and potatoes salad. It was my favorite place to eat dinner with my colleagues after long hours at work.
“Schweizerhaus” at Prater, in summer: perfect place to meet friends and enjoy their Schweinsstelze with a couple or more beers.
Viennese cuisine is robust, caloric and, in my view, gives special attention to sweet, cakes and desserts: i.e. Apfelstrudel , Topfenstrudel, Millirahmstrudel, Palatschinken, Kaiserschmarrn, Germknödel, Marillenknödel, Sachertorte Linzer torte, Esterhazy Torte, etc…
Well, Italian cuisine is mainly Mediterranean, based on vegetables, olive oil, tomatoes, herbs, fish: I don’t have difficulty to say that offers more variety.

What are you favorite Italian culinary experiences?? Wines, food…

There is an Italian culinary experience for each the occasion, (celebration, friends, skiing in the mountain, single night), weather, season and time available to prepare.
During this time of the year, winter, my favorite culinary experiences would be the valley and countryside dishes like “polenta e spezzatino” (stew), or “polenta with mixed cheeses” (gorgonzola, fontina, strachino, parmesan and butter), accompanied with Barbera wine from Monferrato and Langhe region. Another one, would be “Bagna cauda”, a warm dip eaten by dipping raw, boiled or roasted vegetables, especially cardoon,carrot,peppers,fennel, celery, cauliflower, artichokes, and onions.
I love these dishes because they are literally a culinary experience, suitable for cold weather and best enjoyed when mingled with the social aspect of dining, as the main big pan is placed in the middle of the table, perfect for communal sharing with friends: sharing is caring!

What do you miss most from Italy?

Family, friends, food, weather and the places I grew up.

What do you think about the cost of living in Italy vs Vienna– and the standard of life and life style?

Cost of living in Vienna is comparable to the cost of living in big Italian cities like Milan, Turin, Rome: it is still affordable when compared to big European capital like Paris, London.
It is generally known that Vienna is one of the best cities to live in, in terms of standard of life and life style. I can just confirm this result: it is reality. Lot of welfare spending for young couples, children, in terms of education, health care, social assistance.
Another good point is the transportation system in Vienna: reliable, efficient and effective covering every possible place in the city. Traffic, in Italy, is generally more chaotic.

What do you miss most from other countries or cities you have lived in before? Favorite city in Europe for you personally?

Vienna is my favorite: it has everything I can think of I need. Vienna has still a human pleasant dimension.

In your opinion what is the best time to visit Vienna and Italy?

I suggest visiting Vienna in spring: it is lovely and regenerating, enjoying Vienna’s parks in blooming season at Schönbrunn Palace park, and Stadtpark, for example.
Italy is worth to be visited, always!

Curious what is the biggest misconception/s you think people have about Vienna?

People are cold, not friendly and don’t speak English: this is the biggest misconception about Vienna. Most of the people know three languages!

If money is not an issue – how would you live your life and where?

Travelling around the world for the first part of the year, for second part, helping people in need.

Anything else you feel you’d like to share with us about Vienna or yourself?

The first, I love connecting with people and sharing experiences. The second: visit Vienna!

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