"You want people to come to a place and go home with memories to keep", says Guadalupe, Argentinian co-owner, who moved to Berlin after 10 years spent in Barcelona. "I went to Mauer Park to sell bags I was designing at that time. I noticed that among all the food being sold there, Argentinan food was completely missing. I decided to apply to sell my own. The market manager gave me three Sundays to make it work. We were successful from day one. I sold my first batch of Argentinian sandwiches in one hour. Now, Manifesto Market Potsdamer Platz will be our new chapter. Something Jakob and me have long dreamt about."
Guada and Jakob, tell us about yourselves.
Jakob: I am from East Berlin. I was seven or eight when the wall was torn down.
I come from a background of creative jobs: filmmaking and photography. My dream was never to make a career in gastronomy. When Guada started, I had a burger shop with a friend, close it in 2017. And then I completely concentrated on this company.
Guada: I am from Argentina. My mom calls me Guada, which comes from Guadalupe. I am originally a textile designer.
When did you start your business?
Guada: When I moved to Berlin after 10 years in Barcelona, I went to Mauer Park to sell what I create: bags. After a while, I saw that a lot of food was being sold there, but there was not a single Argentinian business in the food truck industry.
I decided to apply for the card that is needed in Berlin to run a small business. The cost was about 170 euros. And I thought: what if I don't only do bags all the time? So I put down three activities: textile designer, fashion and “food from flour”. Harina means flour in Spanish.
How do you remember the very early beginnings?
Guada: When people saw my stand selling Argentinian street food, they were expecting meat. And they were complaining about not representing the origins of my food. So I said: Jakob, we have to try the typical sandwich. It's just bread and chimichurri. Let's try one Sunday. So I came with 100 sandwiches. And I sold out everything in one hour.
Jakob: In street food, it's important to focus on one product. The most successful people do that in this business. You can perfect one thing. This is the essence of food, to know it best, and its origins. It makes it authentic and real.
A year into this, we started to do catering. Usually, some people would see us in the market and a person would email us asking if we could do this for a bigger event, for a company. Our first catering job was for Deutsche Telekom on a charming rooftop for 80 people. I still remember it and have a picture.
We have always concentrated on one product with street food, but in catering, we were able to include more Argentinian flavors and combine them with European styles.
We are not chefs or cooks, but are passionate about cooking. We have been doing it for 20 years and love it. Catering expanded our horizons.
We won two prizes in 2018 and 2019 for catering. We were recognized as one of the best catering companies in Germany from a pool of 900 applicants.
What was the most difficult part of it?
"What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger."
Guada: The 11th of March, 2020, when the pandemic began. Two days. And the whole time emails were coming in canceling our jobs. I was pregnant and had two kids. Everything seemed very dark. I said: Jakob, it's the end of Harina in Love. We had a year of catering for events planned ahead. They all got canceled within 48 hours.
Jakob: It was shocking. We did not know what would happen next. Considering the running costs of our kitchens and our employees — we saw that we could not make it past three or four months without any income.
In the end, the situation helped us think about things, take a step back and see where we were at with our company. Where do we have to change things to be not so weak in the future? Rethinking things, it felt like a new start for us.
And now, Manifesto is an amazing evolution for our business.
Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
When have you first thought about opening a new location / a permanent restaurant?
During the pandemic, we had a business plan and everything. We were a small company, but we could match the quality of big catering companies, stand next to brands like Zeit für Brot.
When the team of Manifesto approched us, we postponed our own restaurant. Manifesto is the perfect cornerstone on the way to establishing our own restaurant.
How has Manifesto convinced you to join the concept?
Guada: When we were invited for a tasting, I started to cry, I was under so much stress. When I saw Manifesto’s Instagram, I said: yes, that's what I want to do.
Jakob: The combination of restaurants makes Manifesto feel like a unique place with a huge variety. And the design. This minimalistic design is pretty new for Berlin. Berlin is still a bit punk and ugly. It's changing, there are some fancy cafes and places with fancy designs, like the donut place.
So when the Manifesto team came to see our food truck, it felt unreal. The right moment, the right ideas, the right concept coming to us. We felt a perfect connection with Manifesto from the first moment.
You want people to come to a place, spend two hours, and go home with memories to keep. This is becoming more and more important, to create an experience around food.
Where do you get your recipes from?
Guada: The recipes come from my grandmother. I have a book, her own cook book in which she has been collecting recipes for decades. Before I moved to Berlin, I lived in Barcelona and I often called my grandma and referred to her handwritten book.
For Manifesto, we invited a chef from Argentina whose name is Sol. We want to take things to another level. No risk, no fun.
Jakob: We really follow the concept of comfort food and food that can bring you back to memories from when you were a child.
Guada: We do a lot of wedding catering, sometimes for couples from different places. Once the groom got very emotional after the first bite. I was thinking: it's not spicy, what happened? He said the empanada is exactly like the one his father made.
We update traditional food. For example, we can make a filling with deer or wild boar, which does not exist in Argentina, but it works and matches the local taste.
Are you more of a chef or a restaurant manager / entrepreneur?
Jakob: Over the years, you have to become more of an entrepreneur. 10 years ago, I would not have imagined that I would work more with numbers than with my hands. We like to do different things. I am creative, too — before I would only do photography, cooking and movies.
We started without a budget at all. If we had an idea, we would do it. We tried it out. We don’t fear failure. And if something works, we try to push it harder.
Guada is now doing marketing and community outreach. I am the number guy.
Is there anything missing in the Berlin food scene?
Jakob: African food is underrated. There is a place called YAAM - Young African Food and Art Market. It’s an event and marketplace offering typical African street food. It's very chaotic. There is also an African street food festival. It's not really famous yet. I think this is the least explored region of the world in terms of food.
Guada: And Argentinian food. If you think of how rich Argentina is in regards to food, you realize there are not really enough good Argentinian places.
Interview conducted by Radka Ondrackova.