I originally come from Brighton and Hove in the south of England and now live in Nippes in Cologne. I moved to Germany in 2006. I’d met my now wife, Sylvia, in Brighton and when she had to go back to Germany to finish her studies, I decided to go with her. I had a degree in German and French and at the time my chances of finding work in the UK were pretty crap so I decided to put my German language and English native skills to work and pursue the relationship. It turned out to be an excellent decision because we’ve been married for three years now and have just celebrated the arrival our baby son, Aidan.
I already spoke the language when I arrived so I didn’t have those classic culture shock symptoms – but I fought with the language and still do today. When I was studying in the UK I always envisioned myself living in France. I love the language and thought I’d be living there and sipping wine and speaking French all day. I never imagined I’d end up in Germany. I simply don’t love the language they way I do French. But then I fell in love with a German girl, so now I’m living the German life.
Wake up and smell the pasties
What advice would I give to new arrivals? Stay on the plane! I’m joking. I’d say find your feet, enjoy the culture and get to know the city. You shouldn’t get stuck in the English speaking world straight away – it’s like everything – you need to find a balance. I would also advise people to step into something as quickly as possibly work-wise. I could have taken a teaching position as soon as I arrived, that would have been the easy option, but it didn’t feel right. I decided to work as a freelancer – which is one of the hardest things you can do in Germany – but it turned out to be exactly the right thing for me and it gave me the freedom to start up The Tasty Pasty Company.
Tasty Pasty was an idea that I’d had in the back of my mind for a while. Back in the UK pasty franchises were popping up on every corner and the concept has been going strong for a few years now. German and English food is not really that different, it’s centred around meat, potatoes and vegetables, and I was convinced that Germans would like pasties. Plus I was sick of hearing all the same comments about English food. I know so many great English pubs that serve amazing food. I’d also noticed that everyone likes a pasty so I thought, come on – wake up and smell the pasties people!
I batted the idea around with my friend Paul and he agreed that it had promise. It was one of those ideas that never really went away. So after a few years Paul and I decided to bite the bullet and make it happen and The Tasty Pasty Company was born.
“You have to accept that there are going to be problems”
It’s not easy setting up a business here. There are so many hoops to jump through, so many forms to fill in, so many things you have to do that don’t seem to make any sense. In the UK you can set up a limited company in minutes and it only costs you around €14 – but to set up a subsidiary here in Germany is a nightmare. In my opinion, they don’t promote entrepreneurship here, they don’t want to help people do stuff on their own, they’d rather people just kept on doing the stuff they want them to do. Which makes me even more determined to do my own thing! But the challenges continue. You have to accept that there are going to be problems every day when you run your own business, it is about how you deal with them.
I guess one of those problems could be Brexit. If we leave, things could be a bit harder for me in terms of bringing my stock over from the UK, so for business reasons I voted to remain. Also because I live here and I know a lot of Germans and I see things from a European point of view. Perhaps if I’d still been in the UK I might have thought – I don’t want them telling me what to do – but I’m more open minded now that I live here.
Pasties are here to stay in Germany
Will it actually happen? Well, the public has spoken and it would be undemocratic if we didn’t follow through. Will it be a bad thing? I don’t know, we’ll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. The English are very good at just getting on with things. We have a cup of tea and just get on with it and that scares a lot of people – especially here – because they think “Oh my god, this is the end of the world!”. But it’s not ending, it’s just changing.
What are my plans for the shop? I’ve got a couple of ideas about what to do with the shop going forward. I might relocate, or think about moving into slightly different areas, or both. I’ll make a decision at the end of the year. In the meantime, we’ll be at the Christmas market again this year – in the Alter Markt – and we’ll be taking part in a number of food fairs and festivals. We will also continue to spread the word about the shop and I’ve set up a new website to help do that. Whatever I decide to do, one thing is for sure: Pasties are here to stay in Germany.