Ina Krug stands at the back of the door connecting the service area with the Great Hall. She attentively observes the guests at the long table: How do they react, does the guest of honor possibly leave the plate untouched? “Excited as a schoolgirl, I’m in those moments,” she says. It is also this lunchtime when sixty invited guests gathered in the Great Hall of Hamburg City Hall in honor of the visit of Queen Máxima, Princess of the Netherlands.
“If I did not feel the excitement anyymore, it would be time to stop,” says Ina Krug, who is in charge of the events at DIE BANK. “Even if you need a lot of routine to handle such events,” she says and pours the water in our glasses, “one must not freeze in automatism, the desire for something new must be preserved.”
As at this noon, where they cook for the city hall. Their mandate for the hospitality is: always regional and seasonal. As an appetizer they offer Labskaus. But not as it is served at the tourist office on the harbor. That would not be a challenge. So the sous chef, Henning Wulf, who leads the kitchen that day, reinterprets the dish. With a praline of corned beef, cucumber relish, potato chips on red beet jus, topped by a quail egg. The plates come back empty, Queen Maxima smiles. Ina Krug shines.
This is not different at most other events. In just two years, it has doubled the bank’s event turnover. “A collaborative effort,” she says when asked about it. “You’re only as good as the team.” And the team is good. In Berlin, the PR entrepreneur Nicole Weber is organizing an evening for Opel in the Palazzo Italia: the 2015 Opel calendar will be presented, photographed by Karl Lagerfeld. A huge press event with many VIPs and set food. The catering comes from Hamburg. From DIE BANK. “Because I can absolutely rely on Ina,” says Nicole Weber.
And Ina Krug can absolutely rely on her team. When the kitchen crew in Berlin finished the preparations for the dinner in an adjoining room – the entire floor had to be covered – and after three hours of preparation, the stoves were turned on, a few serious men appear shortly afterwards and shake their heads. “That’s not possible,” they say while pointing to the smoke detectors, “the heat will start the sprinkler system. Then their guests suddenly sit in the shower.“ Thomas Fischer, DIE BANK’s former head chef, senses at this moment how his personal heat detector starts. “How, please, should I warm the prepared menu for the guests – without heat?” The answer: shrug. The thinkers move away and leave behind helpless cooks. They do what they always do when there are difficulties: improvise. First, it is tested – very carefully – at which temperature the smoke detectors start. Then, for safety reasons, the smoke detectors are covered with plastic cups. Then – very carefully – the stoves are fired and food is prepared.
All goes well. Karl Lagerfeld does not get a cold shower. “You just have to keep calm,” says Thomas Fischer and Ina Krug nods. Something always goes wrong. Just do not lose your nerve. “It is only important that the guest does not suffer from the mishaps,” says Ina Krug and this time nods Thomas Fischer. Nobody has to suffer this evening. On the contrary. The food is a great success. As always, Ina Krug has watched the guests wringing her hands. Whether everyone is satisfied. Karl Lagerfeld also seems happy with his food. The plate of the star guest is empty.
When the kitchen team clears up later in the middle of the night and loads the delivery van for the return trip to Hamburg outside, a passerby from Berlin asks: “What happend here again?” “A dinner party,” one of the apprentices answers, “with Karl Lagerfeld , for Opel. “The Berliner asks further:” What did Lagerfeld for Opel do? A new design? “” No, “replies the young cook,” photos with his cat.” The passerby scratching his head,” I don’t understand, you come to Berlin to cook for a cat? “
Ina Krug for the 10th DIE BANK anniversary
November 2015 /// Text by Peter Goldammer
This post is also available in: German