More Than Just Food – Global Flavors and Healthy Choices in Lindenberg1. July 2024

Blog Ernährung in Lindenberg

Language travel is not just about language courses, activities and accommodation. Food also plays an important role in the well-being of our international students. That’s why today we take a closer look at the work of our chefs and kitchen staff in Lindenberg. Follow us!

At peak times, over 1,000 students stay at the Humboldt-Institut locations. This also poses a challenge for the respective kitchen teams. In our four year-round schools, kitchen teams take care of the students’ physical well-being. Our head chef in Lindenberg, Dominik, gives us an insight into the tasks of the kitchen and his role as head chef:

Please give us a brief overview. How many meals do you cook for the students?

In Lindenberg, we serve around 3,800 meals a week in summer, or around 16,000 a month, consisting of breakfast, lunch and dinner. We also process over 6 tons of food per month.

That adds up to quite a lot. How many employees are involved?

We have 10 employees in the kitchen team, 3 chefs and 7 kitchen assistants.

How would you describe your cuisine? Which dishes are typical?

We cook a mixture of German and international cuisines. In terms of German and regional cuisines, we serve roast pork, goulash, Maultaschen (dumplings) or Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (sliced meat Zurich style), for example. The Allgäuer Kässpätzle (local pasta with mountain cheese) or potato gratin as vegetarian dishes are also very popular with our students. International dishes often include pasta or curries. Kebabs are also very popular with the students. In our event kitchen, we sometimes make special dishes such as sushi with small groups of students. It is important that the menu is varied and balanced overall.

What role does a balanced diet play in learning and mental performance?

A balanced diet is important for staying focused. When serving meals,  our staff pay attention to the portion size and a good mix of vegetables, meat or fish and side dishes. Many students also keep an eye on their own diet. Our raw vegetable salads, for example, are very popular.

As chefs, we naturally ensure professional and fresh preparation, such as gentle roasting and cooking, so that nutrients and vitamins are retained. This also helps to preserve the color and appearance of the ingredients.

You name it, you eat with your eyes. What are some tricks you can use to integrate healthy eating habits into everyday school life?

Creativity often helps. You can experiment with different recipes and preparation methods, for example, preparing the vegetables more firmly to the bite or softer and see which preparation goes down better with the students. They usually don’t like eating vegetables, but they make an exception with broccoli and really enjoy eating it.

The students can help themselves to the fruit bowl throughout the day. Such an offer is, of course, attractive and is gladly used if it is nicely presented and includes a good selection of fruits.

Colourful Pasta in Lindenberg

Since last year, the Humboldt-Institut Lindenberg has been a member of the Green Standard Schools, an association of language schools that promotes sustainability in language travel. What contribution can the kitchen make here?

Working sustainably is important to us for ecological and financial reasons. To avoid food waste, we encourage our students to take smaller portions and scoop up more later.

Further processing, such as turning leftover vegetables into soup stock, is also part of this, but the quality must not suffer as a result. In general, it is important to calculate as precisely as possible to avoid leftovers.

We also try to source many products regionally and seasonally, for example from our suppliers such as Früchte Jörk from Isny, the Buchmann butchers from Grünkraut or the Baldauf bakery from Scheidegg.

Are students allowed to wish for special meals?

Yes, there is a special meal every week. We meet once a month with the class representatives and collect the students’ wishes. Some requests, such as pizza and ice cream, are very frequent. Occasionally that is okay, but overall the menu should of course remain balanced.

This year, we have already had roast lamb, Chinese-style braised pork belly, Vietnamese pho, kung pao chicken, lasagna, pasta with prawns and grilled steaks on the menu. If the food they want is on the menu, it is of course something special for the students and we are delighted if they enjoy it.

What do you cook for students who are intolerant to certain foods, for example due to lactose or gluten intolerance?

We are happy to cater for certain diets on request. The dishes are labeled accordingly at the buffet. In the case of severe allergies, food is cooked and served separately. In these cases, students receive their plate from a member of the kitchen staff. It is important for the kitchen that such information is provided as early as possible, ideally when booking the course, so that we can be prepared.

How do students who may not speak that much German understand what is on the menu?

We have small signs in the shape of animals with every meal so that students can easily recognize whether it is beef, pork or chicken. All the dishes are also labeled with the ingredients. And, of course, they can always ask us or the staff, if they are unsure about what is on offer.

Pork in Lindenberg

What was the best or funniest moment in your work with international students?

For us, the best moments are when the students are happy, for example, when they get the food they requested or when we offer something unusual like a chocolate fountain. On such occasions, students also approach us directly and thank us. With the long-term students who are with us for several months, we have a closer contact and may ask how their exams went.

I particularly remember one student who ate Nutella toast with fresh cucumber and salad for breakfast, quite an unusual combination.

Overall, the international atmosphere here is very enriching and we can learn something from our young students, even as adults.

Thank you for the interview and the interesting insights. Please check our website for more information about our German courses in Lindenberg.