With its many progressive scenes, some of them quite far out – geographically as well as conceptually – Berlin has become Europe’s lifestyle laboratory, increasingly attracting the young and bright from all over the world. A thriving start-up sector has added a new business vibe to the city, fuelling the economy and transforming this bohemian, multi- cultural shelter – “arm, aber sexy” as the former mayor put it – into a “work hard, play hard” city, where savvy eating and well-informed drinking rapidly is turning into a signature trait. It was really only a matter of time before Berlin would emerge as an interesting culinary destination.
Very few cities have lived through so many shifting mutations as Berlin, especially so during the last 100 or even 50 years. Surrounded by East Germany and isolated during the Cold War, the West German government used cheap housing, low taxation and subsidies to attract residents to West Berlin, and so it filled with artists, bohemians and immigrants – especially Turkish – looking to save costs and enjoy freedoms. This created a unique social platform, cultivating numerous and sometimes extreme sub-cultures but also highly spirited art in all its forms. After partition into West and East Germany the rest of Berlin was the capital of the Volksrepublik Deutschland, with another set of rules and values altogether. After the Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989 and reunification began, the city turned into a ferocious melting pot of East and West, contrasts and conflicts, hope and desperation. Much of this translated into energy, vitalizing the culture as well as the colourful range of lifestyles. Since then Berlin has evolved into a political, economic and cultural powerhouse. The bohemian edge continues to influence the art, theatre, film, music and nightlife scenes, and contributes to Berlin being at the cutting edge of Germany’s fast-evolving radical food scene. Regarded a gastronomic desert ten years ago, Berlin today is Germany’s foremost star-studded city.