It’s a typical Monday at midday, in a nondescript lot, on a nondescript street in north Berlin. Standing in line for a grab-and-go lunch at a food truck are the city’s coolest youths dressed in the latest fashion bacchanalia. Cigarettes are sucked hard. Lips tremble. The reason? Berlin’s next food craze: postmodern pancakes. You couldn’t get a more quintessentially Euro-cool scenario than this.
That the Feiner Herr truck is more than just a sweet-tooth fix is clear to see. These are hotcakes that can’t quite decide if they are, in fact, high art. Consider the Feine Marie, dressed with blueberry vanilla compote, Belgian white chocolate and salted-caramel-lavender popcorn. Or the pièce de résistance, Feiner Salvador, with chorizo, pesto, arugula, sweet potato chips and manchego. These are gung-ho statements of unexpected flavor, stacked with architectural precision. If one were a centerfold, it’d wear a tiara or a carnival headdress of tropical fruit.
A lot of people are weirded-out by a combination like that, but they’re still amazed.
Yannick Pfeiffer, Feiner Herr
So what does founder Yannick Pfeiffer, economics major turned pancake boffin, have to say for himself? “Berlin is always a great place to try new stuff as everyone is so open-minded, especially when it comes to food,” he explains, matter-of-factly. “We have a pancake made with beets in the batter and served with dark chocolate sauce and coconut flakes. A lot of people are weirded-out by a combination like that, but they’re still amazed.”
Nosing around the French van (found by Pfeiffer’s friend and fellow food truck owner Gert Bruckmeier in the south of France), it makes the rest of the city’s trucks look rather po-faced. Beyond Feiner Herr’s well-tailored crepes, style continues to take center stage. Everything from the truck’s typeface to its interiors has been designed in cahoots with some of Germany’s coolest creatives — namely, Hojin Kang of Atelier Cameokid and Sebastian Haus of Hamburg-based design agency Lukas Lindemann Rosinski.
“Both art directors are old friends of mine,” says Pfeiffer, originally from Spesbach in Rheinland-Pfalz. “So when the idea of doing pancakes out of a truck started to become reality, we came up with a design and backstory for the concept. The name was the easy part: That’s their old nickname for me.”
Not everyone believes the hype, though. “There’s been a surge in street food projects over the last years, so I might just have missed out on this,” says respected blogger Per Meurling of Berlin Food Stories. “For me, our next street food craze isn’t pancakes, but fusion kitchens mixing styles like Mexican and Korean into funky concepts. And I’m still waiting for the artisanal döner kebab — it’s something I’ve talked up for years.”
Still, there’s no denying these are perfectly proportioned symphonies of batter. Who could resist a Californication (guacamole, sun-dried tomatoes, sweet potato chips, bacon and cheddar)? After just one bite, your voice begins to squeak and your eyes glaze over. And for that, pancake lovers in Berlin give thanks.
Find Your Pancake
Address: 31 Tegeler St., Berlin
Phone: +49 1522 2723756
Explore the world
This year, OZY is going Around the World, bringing you untold stories from every single country on the map, one day at a time, to introduce you to new people, new trends and new places.