From East Germany to Dutch Fungi
Hi, I am Doreen Westphal, founder of Botanic Bites. I was born in a small town in the middle of East Germany. I never experienced a shortage of food which was mostly grown locally, however there was also not a lot of luxury like in the West. But as far as I remember, there never was something called food waste.
When I was 19 years old a group of brave Eastern German people succeeded to tear down the wall between East and West. A little later I moved to The Netherlands. Here I came across unwanted materials for the first time. At the bicycle repair shops of Amsterdam there were tons of old inner tubes waiting to be picked up and burned. These tubes became the base material of my first company making fashion accessories from inner tubes.
We produced our collections in The Netherlands, Poland and later on at a shoe factory in Bulgaria. One day the owner of the factory took me to a hall full of left over leather from the shoe production, what a waste! I made three designs for three different sizes of bags always using two colours of the wasted leather. When one colour was finished they would send me small samples of more available leather and I would choose the new combinations. This worked great and was commercially very successful for both of us.
At the same time we would make ceramics from an innovative sort of concrete in our Eindhoven studio. This concrete was very dense and fine but didn't have to be baked like ceramics so this would save a lot of energy. Sustainability was always the drive and we made a lot of beautiful things until ...
Until one day I realised I am just making more STUFF, ok, my stuff was made in a more sustainable way but it was still stuff and there was more than enough stuff in the world already. I had a good think and decided to focus my time and energy at something that really mattered to me. It was not easy but fortunately I was able to follow my passion and so I moved into food. First I grew oyster mushrooms on coffee waste picked up from local restaurants in the cellar of the former archive of Eindhoven. Eventually I grew 9 different sorts of exotic mushrooms. This was a lot of fun, I never wanted to do anything else. Then I realised my few mushrooms ARE NOT GOING TO REVOLUTIONIZE THE FOOD SYSTEM plus people loved what I was doing, a lot of thumbs up for the beautiful mushroom pics but they didn't want to eat/buy the fresh mushrooms I was growing. Think again.
I managed to run a very successful crowd funding campaign, the mushrooms became delicious Dutch snacks (bitterballen and kroketten of course) and that was the beginning of Botanic Bites.
After a while I learnt how much food is wasted directly at the farms so I started creating innovative products using residual streams.
Today more and more farmers contact us wanting to collaborate and contribute to a circular food system. Our speciality for example are unwanted stems of oyster mushrooms which we use for our burgers, snack balls, wok strips and shawarma.
Mushrooms are fantastic, they have a delicious savoury taste, a natural meaty bite and they make the circle round because they grow on agricultural waste. Once you get to know the magical world of fermentation and fungi they probably never ever let you go ...
Achievements & Press:
Winner of Amsterdam Food Pitch:
Most Delicious & Sustainable Product 2019
Winner of the challenge
'Organic Food against
by Impact Hub, Wessanen & Triodos Bank
European Food Heroes Award
It's all about DAMN GOOD FUNGI FOOD!
Botanic Bites bv
m: +31 62424 0989
Chamber of commerce: 66964474
Iban NL50TRIO 0338 4034 26