Intended as a tribute to homemade delicatessen, Mutterland has established itself as a temple for slow food lovers and deli trendsetters. We met our founder Jan and asked him 10 questions.

"Trends come and go - and faster and faster. Quality remains!"

What we have achieved with Mutterland in recent years, and I am not talking about our annual sales or economic results, gives me great pleasure. We have become home to thousands of delicacies, all of which are carefully processed and fairly traded in Germany. Unlike many industrially manufactured products, they really do have an authentic taste and a lot of soul. Our aim is to promote owner-managed manufactories and to strengthen our food sovereignty. I sometimes find the ever-increasing power of large corporations worrying! Is it good that a few corporations dominate and control the global food industry? However, Mutterland does not see itself as an opponent of the big players but as a kind of complement or enrichment, simply to promote diversity and give the small ones a chance in the market.


03. On Mutterland's shelves, you can always find something new and rare. For example, high-quality brandies and spirits from the premium distillery DSM from Berlin (p. 95) or vegan or internationally award-winning chocolates such as Kilian & Close (p. 49). Where does Mutterland track down all this great insider food and how did you develop a nose for what could become a bestseller?


JAN SCHAWE:That has changed drastically in recent years. I used to be like a truffle pig, constantly on the lookout for something new. Before the launch of Mutterland, I spent two years intensively putting together our product range. In the meantime, our purchasing team has grown and we enjoy a good reputation with Mutterland throughout Germany. We were the first delicatessen to specialize only in delicatessen "Made in Germany". We are the experts of regional delicatessen and manufactures and therefore many manufacturers introduce themselves to us on their own. With us you stand in good company and just not next to a soulless industrial toast to polish up the image of the retailer. We do not necessarily select delicatessen according to sales volume, but sometimes also deliberately choose niche products that simply inspire us and of which we are convinced.


04. Despite your exclusivity, one of the company's maxims is to be at eye level with suppliers. What does this look like in your day-to-day business?

JAN SCHAWE: Yes, our suppliers and manufacturers live off Mutterland and we live off them. It's not about taking advantage of the other. With us, there are no listing fees, advertising subsidies, unfair pressure on the purchase price, or months-long payment terms like with some discounters. There are manufacturers from whom we now sell ten times the quantity we did at the beginning, but we still don't go and say "either we get the goods cheaper or we take someone else". Long-term partnerships are important to us, we want to know the manufacturers and their owners, we seek dialog and we often exchange ideas very intensively. Since I come from the marketing and trade, some owners also want my feedback before they bring a product to market. Many of our suppliers are true believers, unlikely geniuses, true heroes who act with heart and soul and out of conviction. I admire them and am really proud to be able to work so closely with them.

The Mutterland is a modern delicatessen. Those who actually wanted to get a salad browse briefly between chocolates and special gin, and those who actually wanted to buy a gift quickly enjoy a flat white with a delicious French roll. Mutterland is a place where you come to enjoy. We sit down with founder Jan Schawe at Mutterland Cölln's and ask him 10 questions...

01. Hi Jan, you opened the first Mutterland in St. Georg in 2007. Was the choice of location a coincidence or deliberate to start such a concept in Hamburg?


JAN SCHAWE: I like lively neighborhoods, and St. Georg and the area around Hamburg's main train station are one of them. There is an exciting mix of many cultures and people here. I like the neighborhood with its hotels, theaters and museums, and we feel right at home here from the start! Because Mutterland is a place where everyone is welcome. After all, everyone treats themselves to good food and a little luxury in between, don't they?


02. With the founding of Mutterland, you wanted to turn your philosophy of life into a profession. Did that work out from your point of view?


JAN SCHAWE: In many areas, yes. It was important to me to bring together my two "felt" contrary lifestyles. As a typical city dweller, when I buy something I want to have fun and a good experience, but of course I also expect good quality. As a person who thinks outside the box, however, I also want to treat my environment fairly, and by that I mean people, animals and nature. In the past, this was often not possible with a hedonistic lifestyle. Either you didn't care how your sneakers were made or you had to become an eco-activist, straining and dogged. I wanted and still want to have fun and be happy without walking through life superficially and blindly. Our western lifestyle should not be built on the back and at the expense of others. With Mutterland, I took a step in the right direction 15 years ago, without having to push this on our customers on a daily basis. After all, no one likes a moral finger - and neither does shopping out of pity.

"Iwant to deal fairly with my environment deal..."

"We were the first delicatessen to specialize only in delicatessen "Made in Germany...."

07. Mutterland is also online and not only offers a lot of useful information on the web, but also an online store. But is and remains the delicatessen not an offline business? Smell, taste, try and the personal advice. What do you say?

JAN SCHAWE: Our customers and guests love to come to our stores and simply browse - or to try the fresh cakes and homemade French rolls from our bakery and take them home. Mutterland, as a deli with real stores, offers a distinct advantage over the many online platforms that ship from warehouses in industrial parks. People can come to us, get personal advice, look at, touch and experience the delicatessen. Nevertheless, retail will continue to change drastically over the next few years. To fall asleep now would be negligent. My business partner Holger and I not only have a responsibility to our suppliers, but also to a good 80 Mutterland employees and their families every month. We have to stay on the ball and not wait for the big international online suppliers to completely swallow the market here as well and then end up not even paying tax on their profits here in Germany.


08. Is the Mutterland supposed to remain a Hamburg concept or do you want to expand to other cities or even countries?

JAN SCHAWE: We are often asked that, and we are torn. I'm bored with today's city centers. Whether you're in Hamburg, Munich, London or New York, it's becoming more and more interchangeable. Whether I like a brand or not, it's getting more and more monotonous. And even the so-called individual, hip concepts are becoming more and more similar. Nowadays, people prefer to copy rather than develop their own (grins). That's why we decided to stay in Northern Germany for the time being, even if we expand our radius. We have just cooperated with Heimathafen Hotels and opened the first Mutterland on the North Sea in Büsum.


09. What further development would you like to see for Mutterland in the long term?

JAN SCHAWE: That we stay true to our line and focus on quality instead of turnover. My business partner Holger and I would like to be proud of Mutterland. With the concentrated competence of Holger behind us, who has been supplying many tea stores and gastronomies with premium tea from the most important growing regions of the world for over 20 years, we have just made our own Mutterland tea line even better and expanded it. So now our tea is not only available loose in the premium tin, but also in biodegradable tea bags for home, and for the gastronomy. Here we would like to see modern restaurateurs and hoteliers who have the same sense of entitlement as we do and who would like to receive and serve the tea at their premises.
05. With the oyster bar Cölln's at Rathausmarkt, you've added a Hamburgensie to the Mutterland family. What's special about the "Trends come and go - and faster and faster. Quality remains!" restaurant Cölln's and to what extent has the Mutterland philosophy moved into the listed rooms at Rathausmarkt?
JAN SCHAWE: Cölln's is first and foremost a first-class northern German restaurant with a delicious fish and oyster selection. Our head chef Marco Kaluscha, who has already worked for Kevin Fehling as sous chef in Travemünde and as head chef at Dallmayr Bar & Grill in Munich, creates seasonal and weekly changing dishes that do justice to the heritage of Cölln's, but on the other hand are contemporary and harmonize with the mutterland philosophy. In addition to a selected evening menu with plaice, oyster and co. there are the typical Mutterland classics on the daily menu. We also incorporate the delicacies from our shelves into our dishes, creating, for example, a dessert with one of our own Mutterland teas.


06. Mutterland has been instrumental in the clear upward trend and increased awareness of local cuisine and regional products. How do you see upcoming trend developments in the industry?

JAN SCHAWE: You can't say that like that. We were already there in 2007, before the regionality trend and local cuisine had arrived in the media and in everyday life. I would even go so far as to say that we, along with few others in Germany, made this trend an issue in the first place. Countless board members, agencies and experts from the food industry visited us and photographed the entire store or made sample purchases. There have been countless national and international press articles about the Mutterland, and the German Retail Association voted us the best food concept of the year a decade ago. But as I said before, the idea for Mutterland was my lifestyle, and I didn't have any trendy thoughts when I started it. Trends come and go - and faster and faster. Quality remains, at least sometimes (laughs). It simply makes sense not to transport goods and commodities like mineral water around the world unnecessarily much. We are already leaving behind too much of a legacy for future generations. I think we should pay more attention to quality and less to quantity.

"Many of our passionate makers are geniuses and true heroes..."

10. What is Mutterland planning for 2020?

JAN SCHAWE: We have big plans and are remodeling our Mutterland flagship store in 2020. We are now making the Mutterland in St. Georg bigger and more beautiful. It was our very first Mutterland 12 years ago, so it has a very special meaning for us. We are already looking forward to the even larger selection of sweet and savory delicacies. Our food offerings in the To Go area will also be expanded, so you can take a delicious lunch to the office or grab a quick bite between meals. Our larger restaurant area will then be open into the evening, offering more space and choice to enjoy. Reservations will also be possible. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we're really looking forward to the makeover and a few new highlights that I won't reveal here ... (laughs)


... that Jan Schawe is a communications expert and creates the entire interior, corporate and packaging design of Mutterland with his design agency (welovedesign.net)? Jan loves Hamburg, but also Berlin, Munich and the sea. He appreciates walks with his dog Gustav and he loves being cooked by his mother.