Mario travels a lot – across continents and time-zones. Sometimes we travel together and sometimes we share a room; and sometimes I am woken up by the noise of keystrokes that someone, who is used to writing emails in bulk and with ten fingers, produces. I guess that is one way to overcome jet-lag: don’t force yourself to fit the pattern, just start your day whenever you wake up (even if this happens at 2am). One event, that has since occupied the best part of my working days, probably started just that way.
I met Mario in a smoky Shisha lounge in Vienna when he told me what had happened: he had just returned from a trip to Oman where he stayed at the … hotel together with his wife. While she was still asleep, he got up and headed to the restaurant (at least she doesn’t need to wake up to the hacking noise of a pathologically efficient email junkie) to have breakfast and check his emails.
While Mario’s breakfast was served, a little Ketchup bottle caught his attention (you all have seen those 30ml jars with a white lid and a German first name on the label). But it wasn’t so much the presence of the bottle – Mario had been served the same thing a hundred times before – but the absence of an alternative, that evoked his curiosity: why do you find one and the same ketchup in almost any hotel? No matter whether you go to Madrid, Melbourne, Milano, Mumbai or Muscat, you will always find this very ketchup. A similar thing applies to Coca Cola or McDonalds, but they have Pepsi and Burger King to keep them company – the world of ketchup, however, is encompassed by just one lonely brand with good flavor but without soul.
By the time we ordered the Shisha-refill and our third round of tea, we were speaking about flavors, ingredients, processes, packaging, graphics and we enthusiastically decided to create our own ketchup. But we didn’t want it to be just ketchup (cooked ingredients in a branded bottle), instead we decided to add something that cannot be bought with money: a soul.
In life only two things matter: love and food. And both should be approached with reckless abandon (says Albert Einstein) in order to make the most of them. So we began to cook, we experimented with the wildest recipes, tasted the worst and the best outcomes, drank wine and danced in the kitchen (thank you Spotify) and learned how to squeeze 15 tomatoes into one small bottle. Although you cant call it ketchup yet, the outcome is promising.