Last Updated on 5. July 2020
“Meet the Londoner” with Chris Lau, a German who is successful as a vegan bakery und treats hungry Londoners on markets and via an online delivery service. Want to know more about him and what makes Streuseltaler important? Then enjoy the interview.
Chris, please tell us a bit about yourself
When did you become a baker?
In 2006 I started my professional life as a baker, only 16 years young and just after finishing school. I successfully passed my trade test in 2008 and continued working in the same bakery I leaned all the basics. I qualified as master baker Bäckermeister in 2010 at the first baking school Olpe.
You are German, what made you move to London?
I am open minded and always wanted to live abroad, I loved the multi-cultural city of London as a regular tourist. With supermarket system bakeries taking over the market in Germany, the traditional bakery Richrather Mühle I worked in back in Germany, had to close around 5 years ago, so I took the chance and moved to London with my partner to start new.
You bake vegan, do you live as a vegan as well?
In 2017 I started wondering about our planet, about all living beings and about health, I watched a lot documentaries, read a lot and couldn’t identify myself anymore playing an active role in using animal as food. The only thing I missed sometimes were all the German traditional baked goods, in the past I always baked them in the old traditional way. So I decided to get active: I changed all my recipes, experimented, tried new vegan raw ingredients, and everything I bake is vegan now.
What’s the story behind your company name?
When I started my own business, I wanted to have a mixed name English and German. I asked all my family and friends for suggestions and then we discussed them. l in a big brainstorming. In the end we chose FineSchmecker as a Feinschmecker in German is someone who appreciates quality food, and that’s what I offer: yummy, soft, tasty and mouth-watering German treats!
Which products do you offer?
My products are all based on traditional German recipes, I only changed the raw ingredients to vegan ones. So, my products are vegan and traditionally German.
What makes your products special?
I really missed German treats when I changed my lifestyle. I never saw any of my products somewhere else being offered as vegan. I am proud to lead the first fully vegan German bakery.
Where can we buy your treats?
I do have an online store since Corona lockdown. You can buy my products and I deliver them to your door on every weekend. Additionally, I sell my products on several markets all around London. This will start again when it is safe to use markets. Where to find me and the latest information – I always post on my Instagram profile and website.
Which is your favourite thing to bake?
I do love baking so for myself, I like to bake all my products without any preferences. My personal favourite at the moment is the Puddingbrezel, two weeks ago I had to eat a Nussecke every day. It changes. I only offer products I like myself and I can give exact feedback and advices on.
And what is most popular with your customers?
On every market I attend, the first product to be sold out is the Streuseltaler. At first, I took only 10 and they were gone after a few minutes. I stocked it up to 25 and even then I never had to take any back home after the market day.
In my online store the most popular item is my Käsekuchen followed by the Brezel.
Rumour says that Germans are crazy for bread, do you see this trend in the UK, too?
Everybody is up for German bread! German bread is the best in the world! For sure.
When I moved to the UK and saw the selection of bread to buy, I felt like they were kidding. But as a baker it is no problem at all to always have the bread I had back in Germany.
Where do you see your company in 5 years?
With the Corona crisis I can’t even tell where I will be in 5 weeks or in 5 months. I used to sell my baked goods on market all over London. When vegan markets had to close all over London I lost my complete income within a week; I had to adapt and started the online store and my delivery service. FineSchmecker is just me, I am not a big company, this makes me more vulnerable to changes on the market but at the same time it is very easy to amend my company.
Do you have plans to return to Germany at all?
I really love London and always wanted to live here so I made my dream a reality. I planned to be here for 3 years but now I have lived in London for 6 years already. I am really sad that the UK is not being part of the EU anymore from 2021 on, also I do miss all my family and friends back in Germany, so: I am totally open to moving back some day.
Chris about London
What’s a must-see sight in London?
There is plenty you can and have to see in London. Besides the typical famous buildings like Big Ben, London Eye or Buckingham Palace, I do like Camden Town or Greenwich Park for example. This amazing park is the most beautiful one in London in my opinion and was one of the reasons I have my home in Greenwich.
3 words to describe London
Dreams Come True
If you go out for breakfast (to check on the competitors maybe?) where do you go?
I do prefer to go out for dinner instead of breakfast but I never see other vegan companies as competitors. I love to support all other vegan businesses as I like that other businesses support me. I always prefer fully vegan places but also like all the restaurants, especially Indian places. Everyone has several vegan dishes on their menus which makes being vegan so easy.
The craziest food you ever had in London is?
I always like to try new things, my shopping list changed completely when I changed my lifestyle to a vegan style.
I buy, eat and try things I never knew about before. The craziest food I had is hard to tell but in this section is for sure a vegan pita (vegan style Döner Kebab).
The best museum in London is…?
All museums are free of charge except one or two who ask for donations. The Natural History Museum is my favourite one as it is interactive.
The coolest bar is…?
I prefer going to pubs when having a night out but the coolest bar for sure is a hidden bar which you can only enter with a password. You have to find it out on the internet and then tell the bouncer at the door. If the password is correct you are allowed to enter the hidden bar behind a wall.
Favourite part of London?
I lived in two different areas in London. South west and south east. I loved Kingston with its beautiful own city centre and Greenwich with its beautiful park, famous market and the Cutty Sark and the Thames.
Why is London a good place for vegans?
I have the feeling London is in the future already. It feels like there is more vegan food and plant-based people then the opposite.
When I visit Germany, I always feel sad as it is the opposite there.
Some fun stuff about Chris
Which is your favourite ice-cream flavour?
I do like all ice cream flavours!
Fruit Sorbets are my favourites besides the new vegan cookie dough ice cream from Ben and Jerries.
Gin and Tonic or Pimm’s?
Pimm’s! Each year I attend fantastic Wimbledon and the combination Pimm’s and tennis is a tradition there. So sad that due to corona it is not taking place this year. But I also have a bottle of Pimm’s home to simulate a Wimbledon day at home in July when it would have taken place.
Milk in first or last?
The slogan says it: not your mum, not your milk.
There are so many and nice plant-based milk alternatives available, so no cow needs to get harmed for milk. My favourite is oat milk. Best in coffee, in porridge for breakfast or tea.
Favourite Tube line?
My favourite tube line must be the traditional Metropolitan Line. It’s the first Tube line that served Londoners over 150 years ago and therefore has a long history of adopting to changes in the society. From steam-engines to clean electricity for example. Just like German baking that has a lot of tradition and history and also, I amend its traditional ingredients to fit into the changed vegan society.
FineSchmecker on Social Media
Dear Chris, thanks for your time for this interview. I can’t wait to start my tasting tour on your market stall very soon!
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