When I found out that you had spent a great deal of your adult life in England I just couldn’t contain myself, I had to interview you. So thank you for giving me the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity :)
Please tell me where you are originally from.
I was born in my father’s hometown of Bochum and spent my childhood and youth in various towns and regions of North West Germany due to the fact that my father was a supply officer for the German forces. Moving was part of my life. My parents met in beautiful Ostfriesland where I started school and have now returned to live. I met my husband while we lived in the Sauerland where he is from. We spent 2 years in his hometown of Lüdenscheid until we moved to Great Britain. Both of us and our two children have remained German citizens throughout.
When did you move to beautiful Salopia and what made you leave Germany?
My husband always dreamt of working abroad, so he literally rung me one morning to tell me that the time had come and we would move to England. As a dau ghter of an officer I was used to pack my case and move on. We made our home in the “new town” of Telford in with 2 toddlers in 1988. Telford was literally thrown together from a few hamlets and three market towns in the 1960s and 1970s as an overspill for the growing West Midlands. Even though the town itself is no beauty the surrounding county of Shropshire is one of the most beautiful in England and is the gate to Wales. Saying that as a developing town Telford offered everything a young family needed: great infrastructure, good schools and many leisure facilities.
What did you do there?
Originally the plan was to establish a branch for my husband’s German employers in Telford and move on 3 to 5 years later. But life happened and we were still happily enjoying ourselves 25 years later. I have never lived in one spot for such a long time. My children went to school and university in England and my son still lives in Warwick. My daughter has moved to New Zealand recently.
Being bilingual I worked in different roles for a few international companies, mainly in sales.
In 2011 I finally made my passion for food and cooking into my work and created KerstinsKitchen offering catering services as a “one woman band”. I dabbled in many things like selling picnic food and preserves on small market occasionally, takeaway dinners and had one of the first supper clubs in Shropshire (Shropshire Secret Supper Club) to name a few. When I was told that social media is the answer for a small business like mine I was very skeptical. After some expert tutoring I had a great little website, enjoyed building relationships on Twitter and had a whale of a time meeting lots of other “foodies”. I can honestly say that 90% of my business and work opportunities came from Twitter alone. I met a passionate lady who makes goats cheese for top restaurants and was able to work in her dairy as her holiday cover. When the Olympic Games where held in London many Shropshire volunteers involved shared daily on Twitter. I met a gentleman who needed a small buffet and remembered me from Twitter. I could write story after story about my foodie adventures.
And if you ever write a book about these foodie adventures, please let me know!
Now tell me do you have a favorite area/spot in Great-Britain?
Only one?? Obviously I love the Shropshire Hills for walking which we did most weekends. We were given a book about walking in Shropshire and I can honestly say that there are only about two places / pictures in the book where we had not walked. The most magical place in May is the woods above Stokesay Castle when the bluebells cover the ground. This is a sight that I have never found in Germany. I must have taken hundreds of photos.
I loved shopping in picturesque Much Wenlock just outside of Telford at the “best” local butcher in the world “Paddy” Ryan & Son where people queue down the high street for his famous pork pies. A Saturday for me was not complete without buying my weekend groceries at the butcher, the small greengrocer and the bakery.
Now let’s talk some more about your passion for food, in particular supper clubs. Could you tell my readers more about them? Do you currently run one in your home city?
As you can tell by my earlier answer I find it very hard to stop talking when it comes to food and supper clubs. A supper club is basically a restaurant in somebody’s home. Most supper clubs are therefore run by passionate amateurs who live from mouth to mouth propaganda hence Twitter is the perfect tool. The guests who come enjoy meeting new people, getting to know different styles of food and entertaining. I have done different evenings partly with musical entertainment; i.e. a Moroccan tagine night or a completely chocolate based menu with local chocolatier Julia Wenlock for Valentine’s Day.
Sadly I am not running a supper club in Germany due to work & family commitments but it would be my idea of heaven to start one again in the future. For the time being I am trying to find my feet in my new “old” country of Germany, making connections and new friends in our new homeland.
We have just made contact with the local Slow Food Movement and hope to get involved and make friends there. Also, my work colleagues (completely nonfood related) are very intrigued by the idea of supper clubs and I have had opportunity to cook for them and my neighbours for example at our house warming party.
What do you tell Germans about your life in Great Britain (good and/or bad)? Are there any plans to go back one day?
I loved living in Great Britain every minute we spent there. I like the spirit of the people (take the Olympic Games 2012 in London and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in the same year). The country side is breathtaking (think Cornwall) and the FOOD really is fabulous. Yes, that is right. I love the diversity of the cultures of the old British Empire like the strong Indian influences. I still miss going to my local Indian restaurant on a Friday night with friends for a Thali (a large platter with variety of Indian dishes including rice and bread) dreadfully.
Markets offer many different ingredients people brought from the Caribbean, Asia and nowadays also Poland or even Germany. And … the Brits are more concerned about the quality of their food and prepared to pay for it. There is a thriving scene of small food related cottage industries that show their wares on the many food festival.
We really missed good rye bread though until I started baking my own including using my own home grown sourdough.
We are going back fairly regularly because my son and his partner still live in the UK but we have no plans to move back. Now we are in the right place back in Germany and I hope that we will enjoy the next 25 years here in Ostfriesland.
Thank you very much for your time, Kerstin!
Here are some links if you like to learn more about Shropshire and yummy food: