Christian Kling and Martina Demmel talk about the special challenges that come with the job.
A product range that is unrivalled in Germany – and then special requests on top? Christian Kling, buyer for the Asian range and frozen foods, and Martina Demmel, buyer for fresh fish, milk products and fresh gourmet foods, talk about the special challenges of their jobs.
Does it surprise you that in spite of this gigantic selection, there are still customers who have special requests?
Kling: Gastronomy and food services is a business that is strongly influenced by individual needs and taste. For example: one of our oldest customers, a highly renowned first class hotel, has very specific ideas about the consistency of a passion fruit puree. Or sometimes we are confronted with the sheer extraordinary size of orders – like at the football World Cup in Germany: they ran out of potato chips at the Allianz Arena in Munich and we had to re-supply the entire stadium ASAP.
Were you able to do it?
Kling: All it took was one phone call and those potato chips were on their way. We have a network in place that has been growing for years. Demmel: We face a similar challenge every year when we have to supply the Oktoberfest with tons of mackerel, char, rainbow trout and pike-perch. That, however, takes a bit more time to do. We start contacting the fish farms in January to ensure that by the time the beer starts to flow at Oktoberfest, we have the right fish in the right size in the right amount, right where we need them.
Is there such a thing as a mission impossible?
Demmel: Not many. I had a customer once that wanted to order a moraine eel for next day delivery. Another wanted rotten shark that had been buried underground for several weeks after fermentation – now it is possible to import such specialties into Germany, but only by following very special guidelines that require an immense amount of effort and paperwork. Jobs like that take a while longer to accomplish.
Rotten shark? Really?
Kling: It’s an Icelandic national dish. Tastes are very different from region to region. A French customer ordered a very large amount of anglerfish liver. Now that sounds strange here in Germany, but in the region where he comes from it is one of the highest culinary delights. The same thing goes for the “bottarga di muggine“ that one of our Sardinian customers likes to order. It is the roe of the mullet fish and is a very popular appetizer, which we now have included as a permanent fixture in our product range.
In case I need a little something extra: Who should I ask?
Kling: Just give us a call or ask somebody when you’re in the market. We’ll make sure that your question gets to the person who has the answers you need. Why? Are you looking for something special?