The first in our 3 part interview series with Irish Berliners to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day features Matt Minch, a man with a tasty pastry plan to surprise and excite your Berlin mouths. With HelloGoodPie, he’s bringing the secret of good pies to Berlin, and he wants you to know all about it. For more details, check out his website here
1. a baked dish of fruit, or meat and vegetables, typically with a top and base of pastry.
I grew up in a home with a German mother and an Irish father in Ireland. I was fortunate enough to be brought out to good restaurants as I grew up. This is where I got my love for good food. My mother cooked a lot of German food, and father was a fussy eater but he always loved a good pie. The two were mixed and we always enjoyed Gulash Pie.
After going to business school for 4 years I decided it wasn’t for me and I had to follow my dream of becoming a cook, feeling free, traveling the world and learning something new everywhere I go. After finishing cooking school in 2008 it was finally time to leave Ireland and have a change. Berlin made sense as I had the German language and it was such a talked about city.
I spent the summer there and fell in love with the place. However i still had a goal to travel the world and eat and work in the best restaurants around the world. This took me to India, Thailand and New Zealand, where i couldn’t get enough of these amazingly tasty pies eaten at pretty much any meal time or at any tome of the day. I found them fascinating, the dough in itself was so delicious and the thought of being able to put any sort of filling inside blew my mind. This is when the first thoughts of doing something with pies came to mind. After my world adventure, there was only one place to return to….Berlin, I love it!
#2 How did you make the move into pie-making, and can you tell us the secret to what makes the difference between an average pie and good pie?
I had been working in catering and a few small restaurants and cafes in Berlin since I had arrived in 2008. In 2010 when I returned from my world trip full of new energy and ideas I decided that working for others didn’t motivate me anymore. I looked long and hard for a business partner to discuss my ideas but nothing came of it. The idea: to introduce the German people to the pie. I couldn’t understand how it didn’t already exist. It has all their needs: tasty pastry, and really great wholesome fillings, all the things a German wishes for. Plus, all the expats in Berlin were craving for a pie.
So one day I was shopping on Ebay and saw this amazing 100 year old manual pie-making machine being sold by some old butcher in Grimsby, UK. This machine was made from pure iron, probably weighed about 80kg, and looked like it had been passed down through several generations. Before I knew it, spontaneously, I had pressed the buy button, suddenly realizing I had bought something with money i didn’t actually have. Oh shit!! Then this half tonne pallet arrived in front of my door and I realized this was it. Time to learn how to make the best pie in the world and finally bring the pies to Germany.
The difference between an average pie and a good pie lies in both the filling and the crust but also the love you put into it. People spend years perfecting the perfect crust. They say making pie crust is like a science and they are right, it took me many months to perfect the recipe.
But without an tasty filling the pie crust loses it worth.
#3 Would you agree that at the moment, pies are probably more popular outside of Germany in countries such as the UK or Australia? And if so, how has the reaction been from the local German population to your delicious offerings?
Pies are definitely more well-known outside Germany, mainly in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, however new pie shops are popping up everywhere now like in Norway, Holland and now Germany. The hard thing in Germany is that they dont know what it is and they haven’t heard of it before, they even find it hard to pronounce it properly and always say Pi instead of Pie. Once they dare to try it they mostly always come back. I’ve had many compliments and feel pies are really starting to take off! Berlin’s a great place to start the great ‘Pie Revolution’!
#4 When you’re not busy making pies, where do you like to get food, and what are your top watering holes in Berlin?
Some of my favourite eats in Berlin include:
Schlesisch Blau on Köpenicker Str.
Lavanderia on Flughafenstr
Assam (Turkish food) on Sonnenallee
The Bird is my favourite Burger place
Cafe Kazuka does amazingly good coffee and bites on Boppstr
Zsa Zsa and Loui on Richardstr is a nice new cafe with great food.
#5 And what is the best thing about living in this fine city we call Berlin?
In my opinion the best thing about Berlin is the freedom and opportunities here. Berlin is one of the only cities I know where you can really have a good work-to-live balance. The city is inexpensive and there is something for everyone. It’s constantly buzzing with life 24/7. Never gets boring and there is always something new to discover. The food scene is really taking off now as well, I feel like I’m in the right city and pies could be the next food phenomenon.
#6 What is your fondest memory of St. Patrick’s day?
My fondest memories of St Patricks day have to be “The 3 Bs” – Breakfast, Bands and Beer. The full Irish Breakfast to settle the stomach for the day ahead. Music and dance all over the city, and jolly people all around drinking pints of the good stuff (Guinness that is). What makes Patrick’s day so special every year is the excitement and buzz around the cities. Everyone dressed in green and everyone knows for sure they are going to have the “craic” (good times) where ever they spend the day! Its amazing how a small Irish festival is celebrated all over the world!
#7 You do a Hello GoodPie stall at Markthalle IX at their Thursday night street food market. How long have you been doing this, and how has the experience been? What’s the next step for HGP?
The first ever Streetfood Thursday in April 2013 was the first time I launched my pies to Berlin, standing there, with queues of people was a terrifying experience at the beginning but very rewarding as people would constantly come back with very nice compliments.
People were introduced to the term’ Streetfood’, something most had not seen or experienced before. The hype, atmosphere, buzz and abundance of great food from all over the world at the market was incredible! Through the market I have met some really amazing people and it has really given me a platform to launch my pies to the local German community.
The next step for HelloGoodPie is spreading the pie love around berlin. We want to get as many people tasting our handmade pies. Our pies are being sold in an ever increasing amount of cafes, bars and markets across the city. We will be present at some of the Saturday markets like Boxhagener Platz and Winterfeldplatz as well as taking part in many events over the summer including Karneval de Kulturen. But the really, the goal is to open a little pie shop soon.
#8 OK great! We wish you the best of luck in finding a permanent place to sell your delicious pies! Last question, what is the most emotional response to food (or pie) that you have ever experienced or seen someone else experience?
Most emotional response to food over the past year, on a general note, was the introdction of the Streetfood market where thousands of people’s taste buds went crazy with all this new food from all over the world. On a personal level, it was when two Australians basically fell to their knees and kissed the floor when they saw pies. They had been dreaming about them over the past months but hadn’t seen anything close since they came to Berlin. I have heard this from many other expats who are finally getting one of the things they miss most from home. That’s the happiness that food brings to people, and I guess thats the most important thing!
If you can’t make it to StreetFood Thursday at Markthalle Neun this week, HelloGoodPie will also be at the St. Patrick’s Day festival on Sunday at Arena