Switzerland: Schwarze Heidi restaurant

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Planet Berlin: Jeniffer Mulinde-Schmid

When the Swiss actor and comedian Jennifer Mulinde-Schmid opened a restaurant in Kreuzberg, the menu transcended the obligatory fondue.

"I was the worst waitress ever," says Jeniffer Mulinde-Schmid, smiling as she recalls her first days at the Swiss restaurant in Kreuzberg, which, at that time, was still known as Helvetia Röschtibar. Waitressing was just a part-time job for her. As an actress, she was touring Germany with her comedy special 'Schwarze Heidi' (Black Heidi), in which she, a young black woman, spun Swiss cliches into comedy gold. But of course she ended up staying in Berlin. The restaurateur, daughter of a Ugandan flight attendant, was born in Mombasa, Kenya. She moved to Switzerland as a small child to be with the family of her mother's new partner, who lived in the mountainous uplands around Bern.

"I was the only black kid around," she remembers. From there, the family moved to a home near the Zürich airport. That is where she spent most of her childhood. After finishing school, she studied at an acting academy in Munich. Upon starting her career, she was soon confronted with the ugly reality of the industry: "I was playing at renowned theaters," she says, "but I was only cast in the black roles. They were the worst kind of cliches." So she developed her own comedy program – and took that fateful part-time job at Helvetia Röschtibar.

Switzerland: Schwarze Heidi - Move your cursor or finger for the 360° view

'Black Heidi tells all'

After the owner retired, Jeniffer Mulinde-Schmid took over the establishment and christened it the Schwarze Heidi: "It's me – it's something that belongs to who I am." Naturally the menu still includes some Swiss specialities: rösti, spätzli, Toblerone mousse, and her very own Swiss tapas, or 'Schwapas,' as she likes to call them. Then there's the fondue, which is doubtless the city's very best. She offers three kinds, and the mixtures (mild, zesty, and with truffles) are specially produced for her at a dairy in Switzerland.

Planet Berlin: Heidi's Swiss tapas

Actor, comedian and restaurateur

Shortly after her birth in Mombasa, Kenya, Jennifer Mulinde-Schmid and her mother, a Ugandan stewardess, moved from the sea to the alps. But although she has spent most of her life in Switzerland, she never lost her Ugandan-Kenyan identity. No wonder she performs as a comedian under the moniker, Schwarze Heidi (Black Heidi), which is also the name of her restaurant.

Planet Berlin: Heidi's Swiss tapas

Original Swiss rösti

Mulinde-Schmid’s first gastronomic experience began when she worked as a waitress in a rösti bar in Kreuzberg. When it closed, she became her own boss and began serving food from home, including rösti, of course. The Schwarze Heidi menu reveals the ingredients: "Freshly roasted potatoes, potato starch and a note of nutmeg, marjoram and pepper fried in butter — and nothing else!"

Planet Berlin: Heidi's Swiss tapas

Switzerland + tapas = schwapas

In Schwarze Heidi, Berliners are introduced to the so-called aperitif. Small snacks — not to be confused with starters — are a culinary custom in France and Switzerland. Based on a similar tradition in Spain, where the snacks are called tapas, the Swiss restaurant turns them into 'schwapas,' with the likes of pork tail, mountain cheese or smoked trout cream on the menu.

Planet Berlin: Heidi's Swiss tapas

Chocolate alps

And what's for dessert? According to the menu, there's only one option, but it's all one could want: Toblerone mousse made from mountains of Swiss Toblerone. The chocolate with honey and almond nougat was invented back in 1908 and is of course a Swiss classic.

Fondue is the most popular menu item at both Schwarze Heidi and the 'Hütte,' a seasonal stand that Jennifer Mulinde-Schmid operates from November through late-January at the RAW quarter in Friedrichshain, a popular party spot. She's thinking about expanding at the moment and would like to open up further 'Hütten' in Hamburg and Cologne. And she's contemplating writing a new comedy show about her experiences as a restaurant owner. She's already got a title: "Black Heidi tells all."

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Author: Ludwig Peters

Mariannenstr. 50
10997 Berlin-Kreuzberg

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