While Bon Appétit is known for celebrating international cuisine, the Oktoberfest celebration holds a special place in the hearts of many team members. Chef Karl Riedl, co-owner of Bon Appétit, is a German expatriate; as are hostess Shaira and manager Sabine. For this group especially, Oktoberfest represents an opportunity to connect with the culture they had growing up.
“Since we can’t travel this year, it makes me so happy to have Oktoberfest here at Bon Appétit,” Shaira tells us. “We celebrate the culture at home with German foods and beer, but my kids have never been around an Oktoberfest celebration,” she explains, “I can’t wait for them to see other people celebrating the culture too. Food is a bridge that connects cultures and generations. We need that now more than ever.”
“I love the food,” says Sabine, “it just takes me right back home.” One of the most popular flavors in German food is mustard, which is made of mustard seeds grown in mustard seed fields. For Germans, these mustard seed fields are similar to the American pumpkin patch. “It’s more than just the taste of home cooking,” Sabine continues, “it’s all of the ingredients I grew up with.”
“Oktoberfest started with a royal wedding and celebrated the harvest early on,” explains Chef Karl, “but today, maybe 10% of the Wiesen (park greenspace) is dedicated to old Oktoberfest. 90% is drinking, eating, and music. People my age go from noon to 2 or 3 PM. Younger people are there all night.” The Wiesen is filled with beer tents, each holding thousands of partygoers clamoring to get to the band at center stage. While the musicians dress in traditional Bavarian outfits and play traditional instruments, “they’re playing songs like Sweet Caroline,” says Chef Karl. Oktoberfest has become a truly global celebration – one that invites guests from all over the world to join in on the fun.