Digital Gastronomy: From Fact to Fiction

The NextWomen September Food & Fashion Theme.

There’s no intellectual property protecting his creations – but he still creates every week. Stevan Paul hails from the Hanseatic tribes – those tough sea-faring fellows who sailed into headwinds and discovered new lands. So you could say that looking into the unknown and proudly stepping forward is natural to him.

The Hamburg native had a fork in his hand since birth and – as far as we can imagine – started styling peas and carrots on his kiddie-plate since the early days. After a celebrated career cooking in leading houses of the German cuisine, with Franz Raneburger to Bamberger Reiter, Berlin and Peter Mueller in Huguenot, Hotel InterContinental Berlin he turned to food styling, creating the images on popular German food magazines that leaves our tongues dragging in supermarket isles.  

The reason why this man, who greets you with a Moin Moin, is so remarkable is because he’s constantly crossed the taboo - chef to stylist, to food writer to fiction writer.

What’s more, he’s a celebrated foodie who can use a mouse in the right way – that is – digital communications is  how he’s carved such a distinct name for himself, survived the non-intellectual property right world of recipes and simmered into a stew of meaty creative talent and spicy ideas. 

Lyss: Multimedia is a cornerstone of your business model, what is most valuable as a chef/foodstyler/writer for you from this medium?

Stevan: I like papers and I love the Internet. Most of the people I´m connected with through social media tools are part of my business; we share the enthusiasm for food in a professional or non-professional way- it’s inspiring for all of us, and together we see and hear more - from different points of view. Another point, especially when we talk about literary writing, is the possibility of acquisition. A little independent publishing company presented my first book in 2009.

I was completely unknown at that time - and together we sold our first thousand copies of the book via Blogs, Forums, Chats - in a month. Then the word-of-mouth recommendations started.

Lyss: You recently published a recipe book – Go Veggie! - via iPad app and iPhone only – what’s been the uptake/response relative to other mediums (eg print).

Stevan: With Go Veggie! we fly a kite. The App-Producer and Photographer Günter Beer from Barcelona and I, were doing Cookbooks together for years (mainly commissionable work) and we loved the idea of “doing our own thing”, with our own money. With Go Veggie! We produced an App that pays into what an App can technically do, there are many gadgets, like the “thinking shopping list”, the mail function, the favorite-function or the 180-backflip of the main dishes per finger slide. You can take it to the grocery store and see what vegetables he has, and Go Veggie! tells you what to cook with them. Its practical and I love the brilliant look of pictures, like illuminated dispositive. Unfortunately, being technology, you cannot sign it for friends and it’s not so sexy and cosy to read in bed or on the sofa.

Lyss: Please explain the issue that your food panel discussed at re:publica 2012 in Berlin about the lack of intellectual property protection on recipes and the impact it has on your work.

Stevan:

1. As an author of recipes, I have no recipes-rights to dispose. If you change some ingredients and quantities, you come out to a new recipe, that’s the hitch.

2. If I had recipes-rights to dispose, I would now be a very rich man. How boring.

3. I like my recipes to be cooked, discussed, and shown in newspapers, books and on the Internet - that’s what I made them for. I always take care to be paid well for my work, when the work is done my recipes belongs to magazines, cookbook-publishing houses, and to the people. Once paid well, I have no hassle with that. Au contraire.

Lyss: You’ve made the leap from chef to writer with excellent success, as this year you’re a key part of Munich and Frankfurt literature events. What did you learn from the kitchen that can translate to entrepreneurs/freelancers?

Stevan:

1. Believe in yourself. When I started cooking, my parents said, “Oh, boy that’s a bad job, why don’t you become a lawyer or doctor like everybody else in our family.” When I started writing, there were a hell of a lot of people saying, “oh boy, you’re an educated chef and not a writer, hurry up and go back in the kitchen, where you belong.” I decided to not hear the skeptical people.

2. Work hard. If you want to get famous over night, you have to work very hard at daytime.

Serious: working hard and never stop learning are the biggest key to success, there is only a small amount of things called “luck” and “talent” that will help on the way.

3. Be thankful. If you can’t be thankful, you’re not worth it.

Is there an English version of your works planned?

Stevan: You may found out, that my English is not so good. I’d love to see some of my books and works being translated into English language in the near future. The Go Veggie! App lets you already choose the English language-that’s a start!

Alyssa Jade McDonald is the founding MD of BLYSS GmbH. The name BLYSS comes from the English word „bliss“, which literally describes a state of profound happiness and joy. Alyssa Jade felt the fusion of bliss and her own name, Lyss, was a commitment to bringing joy into the world via a consciously-indulgent gourmet experience and evolving business methods to bring communities forward together, from addressing diabetes in the Gulf to standards of living in South America.

After years of corporate life which had shattered her health, Lyss began looking for the best solutions for her stomach, environment, and community. She completed the Ironman world championships and threw a handful of naked cacao beans into the ocean off Kona and promised freedom to chocolate. In awe of the intense properties of cacao, she was determined to bring chocolate back to being the food of gods, and find a way to protect it. Three years of research and trial and error sessions in the kitchen eventually led to the science of turning cacao into high quality chocolate through the virgin process.

For more information about Alyssa, click here.

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