We are incredibly excited about our partnership with Wellness Warrior, an organization that focuses on health and well-being in a national wellness movement - values that Éminence strongly believes in! When we first confirmed our collaboration, Wellness Warrior wanted to interview our company owners, Attila and Boldijarre Koronczay, to find out more about our philosophy and projects, as well as our wellness traditions and values, grounded in old world Hungary.
Here is part one of the interview – learn more about the Koronczay family’s background and Hungary’s wellness culture:
WHERE IN HUNGARY ARE YOU FROM? TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR HERITAGE.
Boldijarre: My brother and I were born and raised in Budapest, which is the capital of the spa world in Europe. On my dad’s side of the family, we’ve been in Hungary for as long as records have been kept.
Attila: On mom’s side of the family, our grandmother settled in Hungary in the 1800s from Germany. Our maternal grandfather was a Hungarian.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO NORTH AMERICA?
Boldijarre: We particularly chose Vancouver due to the healthy lifestyle that the city could provide, as well as already being acknowledged as one of the greenest cities in North America in the mid-1990s. We were also looking for a place that had a mild climate all year long, due to having natural and heat sensitive products.
Attila: I’m an engineer by trade and had an opportunity for an engineering position through a friend of the family who had emigrated from Hungary to Vancouver. Knowing someone in the city was a comfort for us as Vancouver is literally one of the furthest geographical locations in the world from Budapest.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE SOME OF THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HUNGARY AND THE UNITED STATES WHEN IT COMES TO CULTURAL PERSPECTIVES ON HEALTH AND WELL-BEING?
Boldijarre: Back when we were kids, life was very different than it is now. When we were growing up in Hungary, fast food chains did not exist. There was no concept of “fast” food, because “real” food was cooked that day and made fresh. There were less problems with high levels of sugar intake and kids being overweight in Hungary in the 1970s and 1980s than in North America.
Also, in Hungary, most sports were sponsored by the government. Therefore, almost every kid had some sort of sport to play regularly. It wasn’t a question of “Do you want to do a sport?” but rather “Which sport would you rather play?”
Attila: Agreed! I was really involved in kayaking and part of my motivation growing up was that you got to skip a day of school for sports competitions.
Boldijarre: As proof, Hungary ranks 10th in the world for its number of Olympic medals. For a country with a population of just 10 million (or the population of Michigan), that’s a really incredible achievement and shows how a culture of sport and activity makes a lasting difference.
Attila: Now, my daughter takes jazz dance classes and my son does karate and rugby to instill good habits and an active lifestyle.
Boldijarre: Now that I’ve been in North America for 20 years, I notice that here, people go to health extremes like juice fasts, raw diets, macrobiotics, eating according to blood type, high carb, low carb, paleo, et cetera, to try and correct for a culture of fast food. In Europe, it’s common to have cheese, a dessert, some pasta, but you only have a little bit and you don’t overindulge.
Attila: On recent trips back to Hungary though, when I visit our farms, I’ve noticed that North American influence has spread to Hungary and there are fast food chains.
WHAT SPECIAL MEMORIES DO YOU HAVE OF YOUR PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS WHEN IT COMES TO HEALTH AND HEALING?
Boldijarre: To help me in my recovery from childhood leukemia, my grandma would make me healthy juices grown from local fruits, which wasn’t necessarily “in fashion” during that time. Also, because of the chemotherapy, I didn’t have much of an appetite for solid food. To build my appetite, my grandma would boil rhubarb in spring water with cinnamon and cloves, then let it cool. She’d stir in some honey and serve it to me. After a few bites of rhubarb, I was hungry enough to eat something even more nutritious.
Attila: Grandma always had natural remedies. When I was little, I was burned after touching the hot oven … my grandma sliced a tomato and placed it over the burns to take the sting away.
Attila: Grandma and Grandpa always kept pretty healthy themselves. I remember they would go to the thermal spring water baths regularly to help reduce any rheumatic symptoms.
Boldijarre: That’s right. And because our parents were working full time, I spent a lot of my days with Grandpa. He would take me outside the city to the surrounding hills and we would go on long, two or three hour walks to help me build strength, get fresh air and sunshine.
Attila: And we’d come back to a healthy, nutritious meal cooked by Grandma… usually a hearty vegetable soup and possibly some eggs from their own free-range chickens.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HERB OR PLANT?
Boldijarre: Lavender. My mom used to give me lavender to help me sleep and I still love it to this day.
Attila: Rosehip, because I love rosehip tea. It’s my favorite. It has a really nice red color and has lots of vitamin C.
Find out about Attila and Boldijarre’s philosophy and current projects in the coming weeks in parts 2 and 3 of the Wellness Warrior interview.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: