A few weeks ago I got a tip about a great new restaurant in Buda. Some friends of ours raved about the food and the atmosphere at Viuda Bistro. They described what they ordered in detail and then called it their new favorite restaurant. Then they added, “oh, and all of the chefs are deaf.”
So when I got a call from the Statesman about shooting for a story on Viuda Bistro, I was excited to see what the buzz was about.
I contacted the manager, Paul Rutoswki, by text and he was more than happy for me to come by. I met Rutowski and the rest of the kitchen staff, who are all deaf and communicate with sign language.
I spent some time in the kitchen, which had a bit of a different dynamic than other kitchens. No one was shouting orders, at least not with their voice, but pans were still flying, water was still boiling and food was still sizzling. Really, it wasn’t much quieter than a normal kitchen, there just seemed to be even more activity due to the use of sign language.
Viuda shares a building with Helen’s Casa Alde, which serves during the day, and Viuda serves in the evenings Thursday through Sunday. Contrary to the decor, which suggests enchiladas, guacamole and queso, the food on the tables the evening I went was tres chic. The menu consists of a variety of things from gourmet pizza to t-bone yak. All of the plates were lovely.
Some of the guests were also deaf, and I understand the deaf community supports Viuda wholeheartedly. Chef Kurt Ramborger took a few moments to come out and chat with some customers while I was there. None of the staff have any problem communicating with any customer, hearing or not. (Pictured at the top of the post is Rutowski, right, serving guests.)
I love the quote Rutoswki gave in the story written by Michael Barnes. “As Kurt says, you don’t need ears to cook.”
The passion they put in to their food is unmistakeably clear, whether it’s said in words or through sign language. I’m sure I’ll be back to Viuda soon as a guest.