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Hello Berlin #2 - DATA KITCHEN

The fast way of slow food by Heinz Gindullis

Hello Berlin #2 - DATA KITCHEN The fast way of slow food by Heinz Gindullis

Berlin has quite the list of locations to visit. Aside from its extraordinary club scene -  known for its insanity all over the world - food concepts and restaurants benchmark are its new frontier.
One of the biggest players in the game is Berlin’s gastronomical entrepreneur Heinz Gindullis, better known as "Cookie". His first club, named after himself has since 22 years turned into legend. Gindullis opened up Berlin’s gates for vegetarian fine cuisine with Cookie Cream, just before setting a new standard of coolness with his restaurant Crackers. Recently, launched his newest location: DATA KITCHEN: a project for which he teamed up with the IT leader company SAP in order to develop an entirely new gastronomical concept. DATA KITCHEN is a restaurant where you place your order and pay via an app and where your freshly and locally prepared dish - by the restaurant’s head-chef Alexander Brosin - is served out of a futuristic food wall. All of this sounds kind of controversial – it is and it also is not. This is why we chose Cookie: is one of those who capture the contemporary mood and atmosphere of this legendary city. HELLO BERLIN!

#1 How did the nickname "Cookie" come into being?
My name is Heinz, like my father. Back then we lived in England so he wanted me to be "the Heinz Junior". But as my brothers and sisters called my father Heinz and not Dad, my parents weren’t really happy about their decision – because there would’ve been two Heinz then. When I was about a year old, somebody said that I’m as cute as a cookie. That was the beginning of the story, which hasn’t ended yet.

#2 Would you describe yourself as a "foodie"?
What exactly is a "foodie" ... that should probably be the first question. Somebody who is crazy about food, maybe? Ok, I would not directly describe myself as a "foodie", but I do love good food. Before this term came into being I was a lover of good food. So no, I’m not a foodie, but I’m interested in good and fresh food, and in excellent taste.

#3 Which is your opinion on food blogging?
It definitely has its justification. This is why there are followers. But what I really can’t understand is when people share their dishes on instagram, whether half left over or just gross looking. To share something solely for "sharing it" it’s stupid. If it’s something really special though, I really like it.

#4 After "Cookies", "Chips" and "Crackers" you’ve now launched your newest project: "DATA KITCHEN". Tell us, what is it all about?
It’s a new experience, it’s about experiencing something totally different. We dealt over a long-term with what is possible to really change in the form of eating and serving food. Especially when you focus on lunch time or breakfast during the week. It’s mostly all about timing and efficiency. We still wanted to keep up the comfort and coziness a living room has and also offer a great service and quality. That’s why DATA KITCHEN is based on the idea that you order and pay via an app on your mobile, so you get your food perfectly on time. Also, we focus on a very high quality of food and dishes with fresh ingredients. Which means everything on the menu is going to be prepared right when you place your order.

#5 How the name DATA KITCHEN came up?
It comes from the cooperation with SAP on which this project is based on. There are two different areas aside from the restaurant: DATA SPACE is the whole space we are located at while DATA HALL is an event location. DATA KITCHEN is a space where you have the possibility to network, to spend good time with your guests, colleagues or friends.

#6 So, DATA KITCHEN is a place where slow food gets fast. That definitely raises a few questions: would you tell us about the background and how these opposites can be put together?
Yes, you can describe it like that but the main point is: What really costs time without having a benefit when you have a lunch break, appointment or whatsoever? You have to find a place, maybe you have to make a reservation and so on... Here it’s difference: as soon as you place your order online this whole waiting process is subtracted. As you already have payed while ordering, you can leave the second you finish your meal. It’s not fast food we are talking about, it’s about spending the time on the important things like relaxing and eating instead of losing your time doing unnecessary things.

#7 Digital vs personal: Is that a question that challenges you as businessman?
Businesswise depends on the restaurant I’m focusing on: for Crackers or for Cookies that’s not the challenging point. But for me personally, I’m definitely somebody who is into technique. That doesn’t mean I’m driven by the thought to replace all things in my life with digital gadgets.

#8 It seems like nowadays restaurants have to add "slow food" or "super food" to their menus just to have a reason. What do these terms mean to you?
The main question is: What inspires you? If I look back nine years to when I opened Cookies Cream, the idea was a vegetarian restaurant because there weren’t any – especially none who opened up at night time. In this case, this was my challenge, because I’m vegetarian. Otherwise, I’m looking to achieve something new all the time. So, of course, I take a look at all these influences that pop up and if I like them and they also fit me, I work with them.

#9 Does Berlin feed you well?
That’s a good question. If the question would be if Berlin has great restaurants, my answer would be: "Yes!". But does Berlin feed me well ... let’s say: I think Berlin grew a lot the last years in matter of restaurants. That thing that happened in the 90s with the club scene swapped over to the restaurants side since 2000. The passion for food and eating became a very big thing. You have a lot of opportunities and there are many great places, which are specialized on something very particular. What, maybe, is still missing is the real focus on good nutrition. But the restaurant landscape is pretty great.

#10 What is your biggest influence when it comes to food?
First of all it’s the taste ... and the heritage of products. For example at Cookies Cream we co-work with a farmer who specifically provides us with "his" tomatoes,"his" vegetable variety, which are usually not available and therefore their taste is different. This is something I really get inspired by.

#11 How do you see the world of fine dining developing in the future?
The classical and stiff way of fine dining I see shrinking. What matters today is to surprise with creative concepts, a special way of cooking and fresh ingredients.

#12 In the matter of food & gastronomy: Do you think Berlin makes a mark compared to cities like Paris, where Haute Cuisine has a long-running tradition?
I think one of the reasons Berlin is that amazing is what you get here for very little money. This quality of food you will never find in another city for these prices. Besides, the really beautiful thing about Berlin is that you will always find small creative concepts. That’s the speciality of this city, because nowhere else this would ever be affordable these days: Small restaurants and bars who are allowed to be creative and achieve their work until they make real businesses out of it.

#13 What kind of food do you eat the most?
Right now? Porridge, which I do now by myself every morning.

#13 Any life goals that you haven’t reached so far?
The new year has just started, which means you always look back and towards the future. I think right now it really is this „work-life-balance“ thing that I want to focus more on. But you are welcome to ask me same time next year and we have a look if I made it happen.