You flick through a cookbook, your mouth waters ... but a look at the list of ingredients is enough to make you abandon the idea of cooking. Sound familiar? When a dish requires special ingredients that can't just be picked up at the corner grocery store, the shopping can take up practically half the day.
Kochhaus founder Ramon Goo was also annoyed that there was at least one ingredient in every recipe that wasn't available in the supermarket, and it was this that gave him the idea for Kochhaus. He resigned from his job with McKinsey and developed his idea for a 'walk-in cookbook'. Kochhaus doesn't just sell groceries: it sells all the ingredients needed for a range of recipes created by the Kochhaus team, appetizingly arranged in bowls or baskets and displayed on wooden tables. Adjacent chillers contain fish, meat and dairy produce. A free recipe sheet with precise instructions is provided, and while they're there, shoppers can also pick up a wine to match their dish or the utensils needed to cook it. The only stressful part of shopping at Kochhaus is deciding which of the 18 dishes to choose.
For those who don't even have the time to shop, there's Berlin startup Kochzauber. Kochzauber delivers the ingredients for three dishes in hand-packed boxes to busy singles, couples and stressed-out parents. Recipe cards showing the dishes arranged by food stylists are included, of course. Kochzauber delivers up to twice per week at a time chosen by the customer.
Going away or want to pause deliveries? No problem – one click in the online account is all it takes to suspend the service. And because tastes vary, a range of different boxes are available: the Veggiebox for vegetarians, the Kleine Helden ('little heroes') box for families with small children who would rather eat pizza or pasta than sesame chicken on stir-fried glass noodles with fried onions, and a Weight-Watchers box for the calorie-conscious.
A fourth option is the Original Kochzauber box, which combines meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. The recipes largely use seasonal and regional ingredients and include as much organic produce as possible.
Anke Meiswinkel's company Cookeria dates back to the days before startups were even called startups. She collected the 'Berliner-Gründerchampion' new business award for her business model in 2006, five years after she founded Cookeria in Haesler Strasse in Charlottenburg, where she presides over the kitchen with infectious good cheer to this day. 'Everyone can cook' is Meiswinkel's motto. A home economist by training, she knows how to motivate people to serve up healthy food and to relish doing so. In her cookery courses, which have been hugely popular for 15 years, Meiswinkel takes her students on an international culinary voyage – taking in the Asian delicacies of the Silk Road, for example. Chef Shoko Kono is also involved, as she is in large company events or family celebrations, where small groups produce a course each and then come together to enjoy the whole meal round the large table at the end.
The 'Kochende Welten' concept is also centered around the communal cookery experience. A 160 square-meter factory loft in the Wedding district is home to the gleaming stainless steel mobile kitchen of Denise Gross and Markus Kniepkamp.The shabby-chic charm of old masonry combines with designer furniture and fine china to set the tone for the cooking classes that are held here. But the name Kochende Welten ('cooking worlds') is not just a culinary reference: The duo can take their mobile kitchen anywhere, from romantic courtyards to chic mansions, so convivial parties can gather to cook, mix cocktails, taste wines and enjoy a good meal. A pinch of live music or a side order of professional tango dancing make for unforgettable events.
Two other people who are aware of the value of cooking for team-building are Dirk 'Walde' Müller and Heiko Schulz. The pair, surely the craziest chefs in Berlin, refer to themselves as 'pirate chefs' and to their work as 'culinary rebellion'. They developed their 'Kochbox' concept at a time when tattooed chefs were an absolute no-no in the world of haute cuisine. True to their maxim 'there's no such thing as "can't"', they could be seen on television and at live events poaching salmon in a dishwasher or tattooing company logos, skull and crossbones or the 'sign of the horns' beloved of rock fans onto cuts of veal. Hobby cooks can test their own skill with unconventional cookery ideas at the Kochbox cookery school, opened in 2011 in the railway arches around the corner from Hackescher Markt.
Tattoos are particularly popular, and it has been known for steaks to be served with marriage proposals tattooed onto them in sepia ink. Well, they do say that the way to the heart is through the stomach.
Images and image credits:
Title: © Kochzauber
01 © Kochhaus
02 © Kochzauber
03 © Cookeria
04 © Kochende Welten
05 © Kitchen Rebellions