A ladle of… three helpings of the finest cuisine

New trends are constantly shaking up the industry – we track them down. In our series ‘A ladle of...’ we periodically present exciting projects and personalities from the food and gastronomy scene. Today’s 3-question interview is with Henrik Schellkes, Managing Director of Wellfairs GmbH and founder of the Gourmet Festival, Europe’s largest open-air food event.

Hendrik Schellkes at the Gourmet festival

MPULSE Series - A ladle

Mr Schellkes, for the first time, METRO is also supporting the Gourmet Festivals in Cologne and Mönchengladbach as the main sponsor. In Düsseldorf, you’ve been working in partnership since 2022. A simple question first: How’s it going?

The simple answer is that it’s going brilliantly! The crisis of the pandemic is finally over. Even last year, visitor numbers were good – now exhibitors are returning too. All three festivals are larger than ever, and having METRO as a partner works on all levels. The range of services for our exhibitors is the greatest benefit. Exhibitors can order just-in-time stock in a practical way and receive deliveries of ingredients, drinks, ice and more to their stands first thing the next morning. This creates flexibility and reduces food waste, which is a real plus point.

How do the three cities differ?

The three locations are very different and yet similar within each city. Königsallee is an institution, both within Düsseldorf and far beyond the city limits and even state boundaries. There’s no need to explain to anyone what or where Königsallee is, which is a great locational advantage and a guarantee of success.
Presumably no one outside of Mönchengladbach has heard of Hindenburgstraße in Mönchengladbach. But in Mönchengladbach itself, it’s by far the best known street, effectively the main shopping artery. It connects the central station with the old town, where the square at Sonnenhausplatz offers pleasant relaxation in the heart of the city. 
Cologne is the largest of the three cities with so many squares and event sites. The festival takes place on the forecourt of the Chocolate Museum and around the Sport and Olympia Museum – two tourist hotspots. In recent years, the Rheinauhafen harbour district has become increasingly popular with a lively culinary scene. And then there’s the Rhine – the beating heart of Cologne. What could be better for any Cologne resident than sitting by the Rhine with a local beer or glass of wine and some delicious food? (winks)

And what about organisation, planning and implementation? Are there different conditions, desires, requirements?

Yes, of course. Outdoor events are generally a challenge because nothing is on site to start with. Every cable, every screw has to be put in place. In Mönchengladbach, the conditions are very good. There’s very little disruptive traffic, and the site we use is very compact and manageable. The steepness of the streets means everyone involved burns plenty of calories, but everything can be set up and dismantled relatively quickly here. In Cologne, we rent the site from three different parties so a lot of coordination is required. No traffic is allowed on site here – on the one hand a blessing as it makes construction and dismantling easier. On the other hand, access for food trucks and deliveries is more difficult.
Königsallee in Düsseldorf is the greatest challenge logistically. Heavy car, bike and pedestrian traffic during construction and dismantling make our service providers sweat. Combined with the sheer size of the event, it means we have to make a start on the first construction measures on the Sunday before the event. But in every case, when the last tent has been put up and the last cable laid, that lovely moment comes when the first visitors arrive and things are finally underway!

Düsseldorf in numbers

👉🏼 200 exhibitors, of which:

o 76 from Düsseldorf and surrounding areas
o More than 80 that cook / prepare on site
o 10 selling cocktails
o 21 selling spirits
o 23 wineries
o Food: around 20% sweet, 80% savoury
o 3 Michelin-starred chefs

METRO is the main sponsor of the Gourmet Festival

METRO has been the main sponsor of the Gourmet Festival Düsseldorf since 2022 and provides financial and practical support. The team at the METRO store in Düsseldorf supplies the restaurateurs with the necessary food and also takes care of replenishments when needed. METRO is thus a present partner of the gastronomy sector and supports the gastronomy scene in Düsseldorf.

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Düsseldorf in numbers

👉🏼 Over 100,000 visitors
👉🏼 Organisation team with 26 people on site
👉🏼 17 service providers with over 100 people handling tents, toilets, cleaning, security, barriers and much more
👉🏼 Overall length of the event, i.e. the route a visitor can walk along the stands: 2.4 km
👉🏼 Over 7.4 km of cable and 1.6 km of hoses

Gourmet Festival: Why restaurateurs should take part

A platform on which to shine and grow

Taking part in a food festival is well worth it for restaurateurs! But why? The benefits at a glance.

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