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Munich Gourmet Stores Cater to the Elite (December 23, 2004)

A journalist compares two internationally famous gourmet temples in Munich, calling the Dallmayr store a bastion of taste and tradition and the Käfer shop a representative of style and experimentation. In the process, he highlights the emergence of an elite for whom culinary excellence has become a form of social distinction.

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Dallmayr and Käfer – like Rolls Royce and Ferrari

Where gourmets sniff truffles and the professional spouse orders the champagne – the temples of fine food represent two Munich worlds.

The professor cuts an imposing figure in his white llama overcoat and angora hat; he’s a gourmand straight out of another, more elegant era. Strictly speaking, Elk Preßler isn’t really a professor at all; they just call him that at his favorite store on Dienerstraße. “Good day, professor, isn’t there something you’d like from me today?,” asks the lady behind the patisserie counter. Preßler remains in place, puts down his Dallmayr bag, and has a little chat. Then he buys Christmas truffles – “gifts for my friends” – and ambles into the coffee section, where the aroma of freshly roasted beans, the most distinctive smell in this aroma-rich house, is the strongest.

Yes, the professor. Later, after bringing home his freshly-prepared foods, he’ll enjoy a gourmet feast: he’ll drape Indonesian shrimp salad, duck leg, and gingerbread mousse onto his finest plate and tuck into it with great pleasure. “I treat myself a couple of times a month,” says the 64-year-old, who started shopping at Dallmayr with his mother. He would never follow the path to Munich’s other gourmet house, Käfer, on Prinzregentenstraße – the neighborhood of Bogenhausen isn’t for him. “Do you know that at Dallmayr practically nothing has changed since back then. That’s what’s great about it.”

If you survey the vaulted gourmet paradise of the royal court supplier Alois Dallmayr at noontime, you’ll mostly see customers (in winter coats and with heavy shopping bags) who make their way to the nearest counter so confidently that it seems as though they were in their own living room. Seated at the Lukullus Bar are business people at lunch and society ladies who are recuperating from shopping with a glass of champagne. Things get frantic and pretty crowded in the afternoon when tourists from all over the world pour into the store through the arched entryway to have their picture taken in front of the putti fountains with the live crabs. This is the success of TV advertising: an ever growing number of curious people want to experience the place where young Munich models in blue blouses and white aprons serve Prodomo coffee to the sound of feel-good music shortly before the “Tagesschau” [nightly news]. They caress the Nymphenburg coffee pots – the ones with the exotic birds on them – so tenderly that it seems as though this were their life’s fulfillment.

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