The Name: Kochhaus
The Place: Various affluent and cosmopolitan cities in Germany, but it all started in Berlin which now has three branches
The Story: Have you ever come across a concept so simple that you thought ‘That’s not an innovation, there must be loads of people doing that already’?
I certainly have: Well, you can go right ahead and add Kochhaus to the list.
Tell me more: Cooking fancy food – it’s all the rage isn’t it?
Yes, I do it at least once a day: And those TV cooking programmes are so sumptuous aren’t they? Make it look so easy.
Oh lord, yes: And all those exotic ingredients from around the world, fascinating.
Love it: But of course it’s not quite so glamorous when you’ve been round the world food aisle of the supermarket three times and still can’t find the kohlrabi powder.
The what? And what to do when you realise you don’t have the correct peeler for the rambutan fruit.
The which? Then of course, you see the three pages of cooking instructions starting with soaking everything in tamarind juice for a week beforehand.
Do you know what, I don’t think I’ll bother actually: Stop right there. Kochhaus is designed for you, easily-put-off-person. Because this is a one-stop shop which will give you the full instructions with images of what the finished product should look like, all the ingredients right there, correctly weighed out in dinky little packages, the strange implements you may need to use and all on one table so you don’t even have to look around the shop at all.
Thank God. I’m back in: This concept is the brainchild of one who rejoices in the name of Ramin Goo.
You made that up: I did not. He is a German but of Chinese/American extraction.
Now that’s my kind of work ethic: Indeed. And it was while he was on leave from McKinsey and researching a PhD that he came up with his deceptively simple idea.
Some people do like to keep busy, don’t they? Funnily enough it’s precisely those people Goo is aiming Kochhaus at. Time-poor but curious, hobbyist cookers who have travelled about and value product quality and eating home-cooked food with their family but who don’t want to trek around 10 specialist shops to buy the ingredients for one dish.
Let’s go through my one-stop shopping experience please. In I tootle to a store in Berlin, then what? The first thing you will see is around 20 tables – each table is focused on only one recipe – there is a constantly revolving development of recipes but at any one time it will be a mixture of starters, mains and desserts. And they all adhere to certain Kochhaus ground rules.
Such as? Firstly no dish will cost more than around 13 Euros a serving and most (unless they contain meat or fish) will cost much less.
Good, I assumed it was dead posh: Secondly, no dish will take more than one hour to prepare.
Thirdly? There will not be more than 12 cooking instructions till completion.
Bliss: You amble round the store taking in the poster on each table with glossy photos of the finished dish and then you choose which one, or two, or more, you want to take home with you. All perishable ingredients like dairy or meat, fish are in a cooler next to the table.
Pity it’s not a wine shop too: Oh, but it is. Wine and bread are on sale and the staff will recommend wines to pair with your food. Then you go home, make your nutritious and tasty meal and do not have to worry about leftovers as the portion has been controlled for you.
But I quite like leftovers: Stop whinging. It is perfectly possible to buy whatever you want in terms of portion. If you want extra chicken in a dish just stick it in the shopping basket. If you don’t need all the ingredients just take the bits you do need. It’s very flexible.
How are the customers reacting? Obviously this is heaven sent for single households who nonetheless want to bother sometimes with something a bit better than the usual processed meal. And it is perhaps a lot less relevant for your average hausfrau who is cooking day in day out for say, five people. But it is also appealing to the adventurous via the inclusion in most recipes of one very uncommon ingredient. And then of course they teach cookery too.
Aha, the add-ons. Out with it: A very popular constant series of themed and seasonal cooking days and evenings. You can choose days based on basic or exotic standard, or regional specialities such as asparagus recipes in June or Mediterranean food. Kochhaus has also not missed out on the old subscription model trick.
Otherwise known as retail gold dust: Agreed. Delivered to your door, a box every week or every other week or not at all one week and then two the next. You can change it with complete flexibility, and change the number of portions and choose the dishes you want.
Surely they offer normal online ordering: Yes, of course. It costs around two Euros more to have your ingredients delivered to your door from the nearest unit and Click & Collect is also available at any store.
Well I think the world is crying out for Kochhauses all over. They should expand immediately: Seem quite happy to focus on Germany right now but never say never.
Incidentally anything for me in the cookery classes, preferably without rambutan fruit? How about the Junk food Deluxe class? You learn how to make currywurst and chips with special dips.
Get in! I mean, how wunderbar.
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