... Herbert Grönemeyer
Interview mit Andy Schmidt – DEINspeisesalon-Souschef Rock’n’Roll
1 Touring with...
Daily: 85 breakfasts – 85 lunches – 107 dinners
Whenever we have a job involving music, Andy’s on it, whether it’s catering on tour, at concerts, or at festivals. He’s totally in his element doing artist and crew catering. His culinary career has been shaped by his travels around the globe, cooking with locals, visits to colourful, fragrant markets. He’s in a relaxed time-out mood when we meet him – to talk about the seven whole weeks he spent on the TUMULT tour with Herbert Grönemeyer and his crew, and get an impression of everyday life on tour.
Andy, let’s start the way we mean to go on, right?! How did preparations for the TUMULT tour begin?
The first thing for the caterers on every tour, including TUMULT, is to draft the menus, then firm them up. Variety plays a key role, as well as the artists’ preferences and their vetoes. We are sent the riders in advance by production, which we read carefully to extract the details relevant to us. In principle it’s important to ensure that after a substantial breakfast, lunch also includes some carb-heavy, filling dishes. When the crew are still in the set-up phase everyone is hungry, wants to eat quickly and needs a lot of calories. So along with interesting pasta dishes in Cologne, we could happily serve a “sauerbraten” from our own Eifel beef, with red cabbage and apple, pearl onions and buttered potato dumplings. Or in Berlin the vegan cabbage roulade with sweet potatoes, green lentils, porcini cream and stewed cucumbers. For dinner we trump all that. Then we have to take into account possible meet and greet events or dinner dates involving family and friends of the band. Favourite dishes, dietary requirements and food intolerances also have to be incorporated into our planning of course. And all that is the basis for our packing lists, which go to the logistics team, and the shopping lists for the runners on location.
And then you knuckle down to packing in the warehouse, right?! And a whole forty-ton truck full of kitchen equipment and ingredients hits the road.
Exactly. Basically a fully functional kitchen goes on tour. We have two large fan ovens on board, a tilting frying pan, three fridges full of perishables as well as a stove with six hobs plus six separate induction hobs and a pass-through dishwasher. Add to that two equipment cases with large and small pans, 150 to 200 inserts, various utensils, a case of dry goods and one with our trademark orange baking dishes and bowls for serving – job done, truck loaded.
Truck loaded – and you really do hit the road. How big is the DEINspeisesalon team?
On the TUMULT tour there were seven of us in our team: four in the kitchen, two serving and one to manage the artists’ cloakroom. Our home on the road is the nightliner, a huge, superbly-equipped coach with sixteen cabins, bathroom, kitchen and living room which takes us to the next city over night.
Wow! Tell us more about that in a moment. But first could you describe what a ‘normal’ day on tour is like for you.
Every stop on tour begins with setting up the kitchen at each location. All the venues will have been sent a logistics plan by us, including details of which electricity and water supplies we need where on our site. Between leaving the tour bus and the start of breakfast we normally have between an hour and an hour and a half. During this time the crew unload the truck, set the kitchen up under my instructions, and at the same time we start preparing breakfast. At this point the fresh produce ordered from our runners the day before is also delivered. The most important equipment at this point: a cool head. I compare it to the pit stop in Formula 1. It often feels like simultaneous refuelling and tyre changing.
So there’s a little adrenalin hit too?
For sure! After breakfast it’s already time to start preparing lunch for the whole crew. Then, after a quick breather and the next delivery of fresh groceries our work continues with cooking dinner. When the show starts it’s all taken down again and loaded back into the truck according to a strict plan masterminded by the loading supervisor. This procedure is very important, as it’s the only way we can be certain we have our full inventory on board and nothing has been left behind at any venue.
Can things still go wrong?
To be honest, they so can! One evening on the TUMULT tour we found one of the cases had gone missing. In my head a fair-sized catastrophe broke out, but the important thing is to stay calm and put a bomb under everyone! In this instance absolutely everyone joins the search – including the other teams. After a good two hours searching the whole arena we found the thing all alone on the second floor. In the chaos of the take-down it had been shoved out of the lift onto the wrong floor.
Sounds like there’s an amazing team spirit among the various groups in the crew, and in our own group.
Absolutely! It’s important to us that everyone knows they can rely on everyone in the crew – both within our team and when it comes to other teams, such as audio, light, rigging, video, visuals etc. You should never forget you’re going to keep meeting every day for several weeks in very confined spaces. Sure, everyone gets some time on their own every three days on the day off, but by dinner at the latest you see each other again. There’s never real grief between people. If there are any misunderstandings, the issues are addressed, on equal terms, and cleared up. You can’t be carrying baggage.
Good stuff! One subject of great interest: what happens to the leftovers when you’re on tour?
That’s a subject dear to my heart. You can be very creative, for instance making great salads for the next starter buffet out of the leftovers. On tour a good “garde manger” – the cook in charge of cold dishes – never has to order extra food. They work with the hand dealt them by the “saucier and entremetier” – the cook responsible for side dishes. That means you might turn a remaining piece of roast beef into a “Teufelssalat” or use baked potatoes from the night before to create potato salad. We aim to throw as little food away as possible – for budgetary reasons obviously, but also for ethical reasons of course.
On that note, I heard on the TUMULT tour there was a particular highlight – tell us more.
You mean the legendary BANDwiches, right!? The idea for them came because the band had asked for a special after-show/midnight snack and we took the opportunity to conjure up something really nice from the day’s leftovers. The result: lavishly filled sandwiches with good bread, roast beef, cheese, salad – the works. It cheers everyone up and makes a solid grounding for an after-work beer or two. The word spread and now there are BANDwiches for everyone!
Which brings us to the legendary “shower-beer”. What’s that all about?
The shower-beer is a must! As space in the nightliner is tight and we naturally treat each other with a lot of consideration, we use the changing rooms and washing facilities in each venue. So, after the take-down, before we get on the bus, we go for a shower. In every changing room there’s a crate of beer so you can grab a bottle in passing. The after-work ritual is to drink it under the shower. Ice-cold beer under a boiling-hot shower – what could be better!?
I’m sure we’ll all be trying that at home!
Damn right! From there everyone heads back to the nightliner, where the upper deck is kept quiet for sleeping while in the lower deck people carry on snacking, perhaps eating a little cheese toasty or so. Even when you’re properly exhausted after a day like that, most of the team take the time for a quick check-in. You experience an awful lot on tour, and you want to chew it over.
Finally Andy, what was your best experience on the TUMULT tour?
That’s easy – it was definitely our being awarded “Best Tour Catering”. That really was a wonderful moment, when Herbert Grönemeyer and his production team surprised us with a specially-inscribed trophy. The whole production team were so pleased with the food – and that made us incredibly happy in turn. For our team it was very direct, heartfelt feedback and we took it as a great tribute to our work. It really makes it all worthwhile and of course it spurs you on to up your game in the future. Looking forward to it!