Half a year ago, Zoltan Nagy, a 41-year-old man from Hungary, opened a pizza restaurant "Uncle Z's Pizza & Spaghetti" with his wife, a native in Chengdu, on Lingshiguan Road, where pizzas made with traditional Italian recipes are sold.
The small eatery has risen from obscurity to a hot spot among local foodies since a video about it was posted on Douyin, a We-media platform in China. The post has harvested hits of 559,000 times.
"I feel at home in Chengdu where I'm not a guest, but a member of the community, thanks to the city's inclusiveness. I am always awed by locals' passion for delicacies and hope to bring authentic cuisine from my hometown," he said.
Zoltan heard of Chengdu for the first time seven years ago.
"I learned that Chengdu was getting more internationalized, and there was a growing number of foreigners teaching English in the city. It was not that difficult to find a job here," he said.
Encouraged by his ex-girlfriend, he set out on their journey to Asia in June 2012 after he resigned from his job and sold out all his property in the UK.
Zoltan came to Chengdu in early 2013 and enjoyed teaching English in an educational institute in Chengdu. He made friends with his students and their parents who invited him to dine together in local restaurants. The experience made him more acquainted him with Chengdu lifestyle and feel at home.
His real first encounter with Chengdu food started at the beginning of 2013 when an old Chengdu lady taught him to make some of local dishes. From the lady, he learned how to cook several Sichuan dishes, including Twice Cooked Pork and Fish-Fragrance Pork Slices. He also picked up the skills of wrapping meat dumplings and glutinous rice balls.
Among all the Sichuan delicacies, Twice Cooked Pork with a little chili and Noodles with Minced Pork, Sweet Flour Paste and hotpot are his favorites.
"Every time I have hot pot, I would order two portions of Roasted Pig Brain," Zoltan said.
He also shows great interest in local snacks such as Bobo Chicken and Braised Chicken Feet.
His wife, Jin Jing, is a 34-year-old local who the customers prefer to as the "Female Boss."
She met Zoltan for the first time in October 2015 via a social networking software. She said that Zoltan had tried hard but couldn't find a eatery with tasty pizzas. Soon the couple began to think about starting their own pizza restaurant.
Their restaurant opened in November 2018. Business was not good enough until April 2019 when a food blogger shot a video about it and posted it online.
Business have been thriving since then and kept Zoltan very busy, but he is happy.
"I will not leave the city," he said, "I'm a Hungarian. I've been to most European countries and worked in many countries like the UK and the Philippines, but China is a land of most opportunities thanks to the country's openness and its people's inclusiveness."