The GAiA bars and restaurants in the Gasteig HP8 have a wide range of food and drinks on offer for every taste: Enjoy coffee and cake in the GAiA Deli & News reading café, Mediterranean cuisine in the GAiA Restaurant or an aperitif at the golden GAiA Bar. Nina Sailer offers a look behind the scenes.
Nina, what exactly is your job? You don’t stand in the kitchen and cook yourself, right?
Nina (laughs): No, the GAiA kitchen team can do that much better! What we do is more the management side. That includes consulting, organisation, planning and control around the topic of food and drink at the Gasteig. We act as a link between Gasteig München GmbH, our customers and the leaseholder, August GmbH. This ranges from the fixed menus in the GAiA Restaurant, the GAiA Deli & News reading café and the interval catering to planning the catering for functions.
We had all that in the Gasteig in Haidhausen. What’s new in the Gasteig HP8?
What’s new is that we, too, have to find our footing, here in our beautiful new home in the Gasteig HP8. We are still trying out which culinary events are feasible in the available spaces, and which spaces are best for which type of event. The great thing is that we can try a lot of new things, do things that have never been done before in the Gasteig. That’s challenging but also enriching, very creative and varied.
Do you see the food and drink offerings as a complement to the cultural Gasteig’s cultural activities or as an independent element – food and drink as culture per se?
Both. These two aspects are interdependent and enhance each other. We intentionally choose our core activities to address different event needs. Each offer is tailored to the diverse target groups we have here. But of course the whole thing also exists to bring life into the Gasteig HP8 with our bars and restaurants. Right by the Isar river in this beautiful location, we also welcome guests who come only to eat and drink – and then perhaps discover the cultural offerings here quite by chance.
With such a great variety on offer, is there some kind of basic concept?
Our two basic pillars are Mediterranean cuisine and regional produce. That’s most evident in the GAiA Restaurant. We also aim to offer meals made from seasonal ingredients as well as vegan dishes. It starts with pizza, pasta and risotto and includes salads as well as meat and fish dishes. We also place great store on guaranteeing quality without losing sight of the price: A pizza should be affordable also for those on a budget.
Scheduling poses another challenge: On concert evenings, demand is extremely high before the event and during the interval, while during the performance there’s a lull. How does that work?
Especially when you have functions taking place at the same time, you need to improvise. Here, teamwork with the whole house is essential. For example, it is vital for the bars and restaurants to know whether there will be an interval during a concert, but sometimes this is only decided at short notice on the evening of the event.
During the intervals, the GAiA service team must then serve a large number of people in a very short time. I once worked on an island, where the guests all had to catch the last ferry. So we had to served them and take their payment very quickly and efficiently. That was similar to this. (laughs). This is where service becomes an art.
The HP8 has been open for a year now and the bars and restaurants opened up bit by bit after that. What are the plans for the future?
The first thing will be the currently still very provisional terrace outside the GAiA restaurant. That will get better flooring and lots of big parasols next year. One idea is to divide it into a lounge area and a self-service area. The tenant would also like to integrate a larger outdoor food station: So far they have two bicycles for serving food and drink, which have already proved popular, especially at larger festivals.
Do you have a favourite meal at the Gasteig HP8?
I love the beetroot risotto here, which is also a treat for the eyes. Or, for breakfast, home-made savoury waffles with salmon and avocado – wonderful! As for drinks: I drink loads of cappuccino here, which I can totally recommend.
Text: Melanie Brandl