psst…. I’m Hannah Huddy.
In October 2009, whilst living in Seville in southern Spain, I fell in love with a German man.
I’d never been to Germany before, I could barely speak the language, and as embarrassed as I am to admit it, I’d never even heard of the Black Forest… But nevertheless following my heart, I packed my bag and made my way to Freiburg. After a couple of years teaching English, working behind a bar and intensively learning German, I got offered the opportunity to start up and run a vegetarian and vegan restaurant in the former Mexican establishment El Paso, which we renamed El Haso.
There was only one small thing… I had never actually stepped foot in a restaurant kitchen before. I’d been a passionate hobby chef for over 10 years; I’d taken pleasure in creating many a feast to share with those closest to me and closest to them. I’d also always been excited to try new foods and learn about where they come from. So deep down I had a feeling that this was a true calling for me. Taking the lead from my heart, I jumped in and ran with the opportunity.
After a wonderful year and a half in El Haso, exploring the vegan cuisine with a truly great kitchen team and very loyal regulars, I felt it was time to move on. I considered briefly returning to my original field of photography, which I have my BA in, but was lacking real experience to do so. Now I had some years of real experience as a chef and running a kitchen, but was still lacking the qualification to go with it.
Reflecting on what was important to me here in Freiburg, I realised that nothing gives me more joy and peace than to wander over each week to my favourite farmers at the charming local markets. I love to be surprised, excited and inspired by the wonderful fruit and vegetables grown here in the southwest and I love even more to take home a bag full of goodies and cook up a storm.
With that in mind and with a request from a local kindergarten to provide their daily lunches, I decided to continue to follow my heart and start up Kraut und Rueben Catering – kindergarten and event catering that created inspiring and nourishing vegetarian dishes, completely seasonal and regional 12 months of the year.
While running my own catering business, I began giving cookery classes to kids and teenagers at Bensels Kochschule. Not long after that, I also started helping out at the school in the evenings. Each evening I was totally swept away with how much I was learning about the basics of cooking. How to properly chop an onion, or easily peel a garlic clove, or how much salt I should have in my pot of boiling water to blanch vegetables…. (A LOT, by the way!!) And, although I felt very confident with vegetarian and vegan cuisine, it became very clear to me that I was missing basic and important ways to refine my cooking skills.
It was then clear to me that food would not just be my passion but also my occupation, which meant I needed to become a qualified chef. To do so, I had to do an apprenticeship. And where should I do it…? Well, there was no place I could imagine honing my skills other than with one of the most amazing chefs I know. So I found myself training to be a chef under Ben Kindler at Bensels Kochschule.
For the first year of my apprenticeship I continued to provide lunches to the Kindergarten der Kulturen but after a year of working and training (despite how much I loved both), it was clear I had to concentrate on just one thing: my apprenticeship. Although it was sad to call an end to my personal venture, my baby, Kraut und Rueben Catering, the decision came easy because I knew I was doing what was best for me.
Most importantly, I’m still following my heart.