The research lab of an indoor urban farm, the stately interior of a GDR book shop, the courtyard of a landmarked industrial building – Since summer 2014, Sophie von Oswald has been realizing her vision of the perfect brunch: an all-day breakfast event series that brings people together in unassuming and unique locations across Berlin.
As a concept, Das Brunch was developed by Sophie von Oswald out of a want to combine her love for Australian-style breakfasts, her personal approach to cooking, and her fascination for the many venues unique to Berlin. Born in Hamburg to an Iranian mother and a German father, von Oswald grew up in Sydney, where late weekend breakfasts – more than dinner and lunch – were all-day social events spent with friends. Dishes were generally served warm and characterized by their use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and their creative flavour combinations. Drawing from this experience, von Oswald adapts the Australian-style breakfast to Berlin by working together with local producers and street food vendors, and by scouting new locations for each event. The first Das Brunch served around 400 guests at the indoor urban garden, INFARM, in Berlin-Kreuzberg. The seventh, and most recent, Das Brunch took place this summer in the courtyard of Berlin-based coffee roaster Bonanza, with more than 700 guests attending throughout the day.
Initially a collaborative effort between Sophie von Oswald and food creative Julia Ward, today’s brunches are conceptualized and executed together with her sister Xenia, who also works as a freelance food stylist and recipe writer. Each menu features three options: one vegan, one vegetarian, and one meat option. Dishes are centred around regional and seasonal ingredients, which are then combined with spices and herbs to pay homage to the sister’ connectedness to Persian cuisine. The resulting flavour combinations have become the hallmark of their modern Middle-Eastern breakfast dishes. Dishes, such as roasted pumpkin with tahini sauce, walnuts, and pomegranate alongside black beans, glazed parsnip, chermoula, and avocado; or poached egg with marinated buffalo mozzarella, potato rosti, star anise confit tomatoes, baby spinach with rhubarb vinaigrette, finely shaved asparagus, and wild garlic pesto.
Sophie und Xenia von Oswald gained their experience conceptualizing and executing their own supper clubs (Krauted Haus) and catering projects (e.g. Atonal Festival, Berlin Fashion Film Festival, Markthalle Neun) working as culinary directors and managers for established recipe delivery services, as food stylists, as recipe writers, and creative directors for food markets.
Cool Cities sat down with Sophie von Oswald:
How did the two of you get involved in the culinary scene?
Our mother is an incredible cook and always made sure the family came together for dinner. This is still really important to her. So it was more or less destiny that we were both bound to find our own passions for cooking. I actually studied journalism, but when I moved to Berlin in 2010, I started a supper club, while Xenia worked as a chef and a food stylist after her studies in hospitality. When my sister moved to Berlin three years ago, we decided to work together.
Did Sydney and London influence your taste?
Both cities lead the world’s culinary scene and guests are very discerning there. You see a lot more international influences on things like breakfast or brunch than here in Berlin. It’s odd, but Germans have really stuck to their cold cuts, jams, and bread rolls. We wanted to offer something different with our brunch, but we also wanted to bring people to some of Berlin’s most unique locations.
What made you decide to do a brunch instead of a supper club or dinner parties?
We liked the idea of bringing people together at unique locations to eat good food during the day—which is atypical for Berlin. No partying, no hard liquor, no DJs. We wanted to create something that reminded us of our family breakfasts at home, where we spend the entire day together. We still offer some libations, like Bloody Marys and Pimm’s Cup, but the informal gathering is what is paramount.
Do you think this is the first step towards opening your own restaurant?
We constantly create new recipes, be it for our brunches or our food blog “Rocket & Basil,” and we have certainly considered bringing everything together into one culinary concept. But we don’t have any concrete plans as of yet.A selection of their recipes and projects can be found on their blog rocket & basil
all Photos are by Rebecca Crawford: www.instagram.com/beccacrawford/
The sisters' favorite spots in Berlin are: