A foodies’ paradise in every sense of the word, Goldhahn & Sampson in Prenzlauer Berg (and now Charlottenburg too!) is not only a specialist food store sourcing fine international produce, quality cookbooks and fine wines, but an incredible space for a whole range of unique cooking lessons as well as a superb cafe to meet like-minded folk too. We were thrilled to be able to find out a bit more about this exceptional and very respected Berlin food business directly from the owners Sascha Rimkus & Andreas Klöckner themselves…
As soon as you walk into Goldhahn & Sampson, it’s instantly clear you’re in a truly special place – not just any normal food store, but instead an inspirational hub for cooks, foodies and connoisseurs alike.
Was this always the plan or did the place later evolve to host cooking courses, books and a café over time?
Of course there has been a huge evolution from our product range 10 years ago (3 craft beer bottles and a few chocolate bars) and the number of cooking classes (1-2 per week). However, the initial idea was always to create a place where all good things related to food and cooking come together.
So the concept of combining artisan food items, books, wine and the cooking classes was there from the very beginning. It was supposed to be a special place for food lovers. With things that you could not find so easily in Berlin.
When did you start Goldhahn & Sampson and what did you do beforehand?
This year we will have our 10 year anniversary, our opening was on the 9th December 2006.
Before, we both worked in gastronomy for many years in different jobs.
Andreas managed Cookies Cream in Berlin at that time and had lived in Australia for 10 years. Sascha was the manager of Café Bravo and that’s also where we met.
What was the main challenge in setting up the business?
The biggest challenge was that we didn’t really know anything about retail.
So we had to find suppliers, build up all the logistics (we import many products directly from the producers), search for new products.
Also getting into the German book market was quite interesting…
You’re renowned for focusing on high quality produce – how do you go about sourcing your goods?
Right now the products often find us, which is really great. In the early days we sold what we liked ourselves.
And each of us had a niche that we were interested in and we started to explore that. Sascha had his focus on wine, spirits and coffee. Andreas was eager to find high quality products for Asian cooking, like our Italian fish sauce, as alternatives to all the products which are full of additives.
We also go to relevant trade fairs and meet producers personally. With many of them we have close relationships, be it wine makers, bakers or chocolatiers.
The cooking courses at Goldhahn & Sampson are so incredibly varied, covering a HUGE array of different cuisines as well as specialist topics, such as Natural Wines & Macaroons! Have you also personally taught classes and if so, what?
Yes. Andreas gave Indian cooking classes, as that is one of his (many) areas of expertise in the kitchen. However he stopped at some point when there were suddenly so many other things to do.
Sascha still shares his knowledge about wine and spirits in various tastings and workshops, he’s a real wine nerd.
You’ve got a wonderful wine section full of specialist producers. Do you have any favourites we should be aware of?
Sascha: You should be aware of the wines of Val delle Corti in Radda in Tuscany. Cool-Climate-Micro-Winery, biodynamic and non-interventionist. For me the re-definition of good old Chianti….Clear, fresh, mineral and super elegant. Try the Chianti Classico DOCG 2013 (16,90).
We love your choice of cookbooks and are avid cookbook buyers too. If you could recommend just ONE book as a gift for a passionate home chef, what would it be?
There are two books we would recommend, one is the long-time favourite and one is a more recent discovery.
Asiatisch Kochen: 300 Rezepte in 1200 Fotos Schritt für Schritt written by Jody Vassallo and Emily Ezekiel and published by AT Verlag (34€). The book beautifully illustrates the multiple Asian cuisines with many photos of ingredients, kitchen tools and step-by-step instructions. The photos are state of the art and the 300 recipes it includes are a real asset for home chefs (for a fair price).
And the all-time favourite and must-have: Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi (DK Dorling Kindersly).
We presume you yourselves cook a lot too! What’s your signature dish for a special occasion?
Andreas: It’s a real classic dish: Beef Wellington, and for Vegetarians: Mushroom Wellington, and for fish lovers: Lachs Coulibiac (which is essentially a Salmon cooked in a pastry, Wellington-style).
We’re very excited to learn you’ve just recently opened another location in Charlottenburg. Tell us how that one differs from the Prenzlauer Berg space.
It’s like the shop in Prenzlauer Berg on steroids. A lot bigger (300 qm) with more products, books and wine.
We have a large, beautiful counter with more cheese, bread, cake and confectionary. More space to explore and hang out, to have a good coffee or wine or (new!) bagels with avocado or salmon. We have our book room with a sofa and arm chairs where costumers can sit and browse through our books.
The kitchen is bigger too, so we can host bigger classes (16 participants for a normal class, and up to 65 for privat groups) and are more flexibel with the teaching, e.g. in our new cheese making class where everyone gets to make their own soft cheese.
Are there any other exciting developments or news for us to expect in 2016?
We hope not. We are still very excited about our Wilma (that’s what we call the shop as it is on Wilmersdorfer Straße). But there will be more events coming like book presentations, readings and other food-related events.
Where do you yourselves like to eat, drink and relax in Berlin?
Complete the following sentence: “ For me, Berlin is…”
… still a relaxed and inspiring place.
Be sure to check out Goldhahn & Sampson’s fantastic cooking lessons and pop into their shops next time you’re in Prenzlauer Berg or Charlottenburg… we promise you’ll be seriously impressed with what you find!