Obituary photo of Henrich Brestowski, Orlando-FL
In Loving Memory of

Henrich Brestowski

1953 - 2023
Obituary photo of Henrich Brestowski, Orlando-FL
In Loving Memory of

Henrich Brestowski

1953 - 2023

Services & Gatherings

Services & Gatherings

Visitation:
Tuesday, January 24, 2023 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Newcomer Cremations, Funerals & Receptions
335 East State Road 434
Longwood, FL  32750
407-260-5400
Service:
Tuesday, January 24, 2023 at 2:00pm
Newcomer Cremations, Funerals & Receptions
335 East State Road 434
Longwood, FL  32750
407-260-5400
Newcomer - S. Seminole Chapel (407-260-5400) is assisting the family
Henrich Brestowski Life story video
Henrich Brestowski
March 12, 1953 - January 9, 2023


Henrich Brestowski was born in Czechoslovakia in the years following World War II to a family that had a long tradition of music, hospitality, and, above all, good food.

But he bristled under the rules set by the Communist regime and, as a member of the ethnic minority Romani people, was stung by discrimination from an early age.

He had big dreams — dreams of living in freedom, dreams of bringing honor to his family name and heritage and dreams of someday owning his own restaurant.

By the time he died on January 9, 2023 at AdventHealth Winter Park Hospital in Florida at age 69, he had fulfilled his dreams.

Known as Chef Henry to his many culinary fans, he owned several restaurants throughout the greater Orlando area including Cafe Max, Blue Danube and Chef Henry’s Cafe. The schnitzels, duck, goulash, cabbage rolls, potato dumplings and other delicacies from Central Europe earned him an enthusiastic following both in Florida’s small Slovak community and beyond.

He paired those dishes with rustic breads and desserts made by his pastry chef wife, Estera, whose strudels were legendary. His three daughters adored their father and early on learned from his example of hard work, a trait that helped them manage every aspect of the family business.

Henrich Brestowski was born March 12, 1953, in Sokolov, Czechoslovakia, now part of the Czech Republic, to Henrich Brestowski and Fridorika Olahova Brestowska.

He grew up in Lucenec, a town in Slovakia where several generations of his family settled. He was surrounded by music and traditional food. His grandfather played the dulcimer and an uncle was a well-known jazz pianist.

Henrich’s parents both worked in the food and hospitality industry. He followed their example and began his career as a server in Filakovo. On March 5, 1972, he met the love of his life, Estera Bilkova, at a disco in the Slovan Hotel. They became inseparable ever since.

They married on June 30, 1973, in the Catholic Church of Lucenec.

Both Henrich and Estera continued to advance in their careers. He became director of the Lovinit Lodge in Tuhar and she became the assistant director.

They had three daughters and lived a comfortable life.

His daughters remember spending holidays and summers at the Lovinit Lodge their parents managed. Together with their parents, they foraged for mushrooms, and ran through the forests and streams. Henrich led the family in evening barbecues, spirited games of soccer, volleyball, and even hockey on the frozen pool in the winter.

And no one in the family ever forgot the time that a rabid cat snuck into the lodge dining room, bit an employee then gave chase. Armed with a meat cleaver, Henrich cornered the animal and eliminated the threat in a spectacularly gory way. Then he spent weeks in isolation to make sure he had not contracted rabies in the process.

His daughters loved him dearly and the three of them vied to hold his two hands. The three girls recalled an idyllic childhood.

But Henrich resented the rules set by the Communist party and the limits of such a closed society. When his eldest daughter was denied admission to the State Conservatory of Kosice because he refused to show his support for the totalitarian regime, he vowed to escape.

On July 2, 1987, he and his wife left their home in Lucenec with their girls, ages 10, 11 and almost 14, under the guise of a routine shopping trip to Hungary. But once they crossed the border, they made a run for it.

The family made a circuitous journey from Hungary to Romania to Yugoslavia and finally, Austria, where they lived as refugees for two years. Estera later wrote about the experience in a book published in Slovakia under title “Aj slnko kraca na zapad” which translates to “As We Followed the Sun.”

They persevered and on September 8, 1989, they found themselves in St. Louis, Missouri, where Henrich got a job as a prep cook at the Sheraton. He later became a banquet server at the Adam’s Mark Hotel, where Estera was a pastry chef.

The jobs were a big step down from the top managerial roles Henrich held in Slovakia. He didn’t speak much English, so he let his education and experience in hospitality do the talking. His talent and work ethic were obvious.

In 1991, Henrich and Estera moved their family to Central Florida to be closer to their Slovak community. While living as refugees in Austria, the pair set a goal of owning their own business within two years of entering the U.S. Two months shy of their deadline, they fulfilled that promise by buying Café Max on Lake Eola, Orlando. They kept the standard fare on the menu but before long added dishes like schnitzel, stuffed chicken breast, and goulash. Simultaneously, Henrich and Estera managed the social hall venue at Slovak Garden in Winter Park.

The Brestowski clan opened Blue Danube in Titusville in 1993, followed by Chef Henry’s Cafe in 1999, which they operated until 2008. Henrich quickly earned a reputation for the best Central European food in the area. He felt great satisfaction when he saw his patrons savoring his food — his cultural heritage.

And while Henrich cheered his daughters as they assimilated into American society, he and his wife insisted that they speak Slovak at home and hold onto their family traditions.

His hard work, determination, fierce love of his wife and children set an example that will continue to guide his family as they recall the sound of his booming laughter, the force of his magnetic personality, and the aroma of his beloved kitchen.

In addition to his wife, Estera, of Orlando, he is survived by his three daughters, Evelina and fiancée, Mario, of Tampa, Simona and her husband, Mike, of Eustis, Florida, and Mimi and fiancée, Alex, of Longwood, Florida; a grandson, Alex, four granddaughters, Naomi, Kamila, Natalia, and Bianca; two great-grandchildren Oliver and LiliRayne; a sister, Frederika Svetova of Lucenec, Slovakia, and countless beloved family members overseas.

Funeral Services will be held on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 at 2:00 pm at Newcomer Funeral Home - South Seminole Chapel, 335 E. State Road 434, Longwood, FL with Chaplain Mike Caroline officiating.

A recording of the funeral service will be available until April 24, 2023 by clicking here

Visitation with the family will precede the service from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm at the funeral home.

Following a service at the funeral home, burial will take place at Lake Mary Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to Henrich's family may be made by clicking here to donate towards Chef Henry's funeral fund

To share your memories of Henrich, or to leave a special message of condolence for his family, please click the Share Memories button above.










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Services & Gatherings

Services & Gatherings

Visitation:
Tuesday, January 24, 2023 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Newcomer Cremations, Funerals & Receptions
335 East State Road 434
Longwood, FL  32750
407-260-5400
Service:
Tuesday, January 24, 2023 at 2:00pm
Newcomer Cremations, Funerals & Receptions
335 East State Road 434
Longwood, FL  32750
407-260-5400
Newcomer - S. Seminole Chapel (407-260-5400) is assisting the family

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