He’s young, he’s industrious, and on top of that, he’s very charming. Daniel Alvarez Jacobsen, known as the Sausage King of Colombia, has charisma and that can’t hurt if you try to make everything out of nothing.
“Call me Dani,” he says as he greets me at the door and reaches out his hand. Then he takes me directly to the terrace of his apartment, located in the distinguished northern part of Bogota. An electric grill the size of a wardrobe glows warm, and I take a seat and unpack two ice-cold bottles of Köstritzer beer from my travel bag. While Dani prepares some sausages for the grill, I hand him two more bottles of Köstritzer to put in the fridge. I bought the beer at Carulla. A noble Deli on the corner, known for its imported food and drinks from Europe. Everything here is sinfully expensive. The four bottles of Köstritzer cost me a whopping Euro 22,- when I convert the Colombian pesos into our currency. Whatever. Before I came here to interview Daniel Alvarez Jacobsen, I called him and asked him which beer he liked to drink, and his answer came like out of a pistol: “Köstritzer.” There is a reason for this: the thirty-seven-year-old Colombian has lived in Germany for more than ten years. And there he chose the Köstritzer beer as his first choice beverage. He tells me that he spent his most beautiful time in Berlin, in the Hotel Adlon. Not as a guest, but as a trainee. In the Adlon, he learned the profession of a chef. “That’s a long story,” he repeats, and for a moment he becomes thoughtful. Then we toast and wet our lips with the light brownish foam of delicious Köstritzer dark beer.
“Cheers Dani,” “Cheers Arthur.”
Dani’s story is truly special, and yes, it has a happy ending. But let me start from scratch, dear readers, and tell you in turn how it came about that almost all known television channels in Germany brought this story to the screen:
Dani comes from an upper middle-class family. His father was an officer in the Colombian Navy and retired before the age of fifty. He was young enough to start his own business. Without further ado, he founded a factory producing artificial intestines for sausage factories on a large scale. His achievement was resounding and allowed him a high standard of living. His son Dani has profited from this since his childhood. Dani grew up safe and sound, obtained the German high school diploma in the German school of Bogota, and when he was seventeen, he seized the opportunity and went to Germany for a year as an exchange student. During this time, he lived in Wiesbaden, with guest parents and he still says today that he has Colombian parents in Bogota and German parents in Wiesbaden.
During the time of the school exchange, this high school student looked for a job and found it immediately. First as a cleaner in a butcher’s shop in the city. Afterward, he found work in an Italian restaurant at the Kurpark. He was hired there as a waiter. Twenty years later, he claims that the job as a waiter and the contact with people has been a wonderful experience for him. Charisma, remember, he must have had it already then, such great charisma because after some time the guests of the Italian restaurant came more and more often just to be served only by Dani. This confirmation was his incentive, and when he traveled back to Colombia to do his German high school diploma there two years later in the Colegio Andino of Bogota, he had already decided to do an apprenticeship in the hotel business in Germany. When he was twenty, he returned to Germany and began training as a hotel professional. He got to know all the branches of a hotel business. He liked the kitchen best. Dani discovered a passion for himself that he had never known before. He wanted to learn how to create delicious dishes from high-quality food products. But before that, he had to travel to Colombia, because his father tried to prepare him to enter the factory. As a well-educated obedient son, he followed his father’s wishes and worked for some time in the factory. Soon he had to realize that he didn’t enjoy this work very much. He wanted to cook and create tasty dishes and not delegate operations from the factory office. So, he traveled back to Germany.
There, he was smart enough to search the newspapers and hospitality journals for an apprenticeship as a chef. And he came across an advertisement for the world-famous Hotel Adlon in Berlin. Quickly he reached for the telephone and made inquiries. After he was told what to do, he formally applied and was invited to come to Berlin for an interview. When he learned that he ha been hired as a trainee cook, he made a leap of joy. The prior training as a hotel specialist helped him getting the new job, and after three years in the Adlon, he passed his journeyman’s examination as a chef with success. Now he was a certified chef who had completed his training in Germany’s most famous hotel.
Back in Bogota Dani’s father waited longingly for him to return, because he wanted to hire him in the factory to unburden himself. Dani followed his father, and he went to the factory every day for many months to learn his father’s business. Again, he was influenced by the daily routine in the factory. From the monotony of spending the whole day in the office. To delegate and not be able to work with his hands. He didn’t want to do anything more than be a craftsman. Someone who makes beautiful things with his hands creates and produces something for the joy of people.
With the consent of his father, Dani now went for the third time to Germany and looked for an apprenticeship as a butcher. During his previous years of residence in the country, he had become acquainted with a large number of quality sausage and Deli products. He wanted to be able to do something like that. In Colombia, he says, there’s a “German sausage gap.” That means as much as “The sausages that are produced here in Colombia are simply different than those in Germany. Ingredients and quality result in a dissimiliar taste, foreign to yours”. That’s all he wants to say. In any case, our young Gastro craftsman was motivated enough to learn the butcher trade in Germany. He wrote a letter from Colombia to the butcher in Wiesbaden, who had employed him years earlier as a cleaning assistant. His father still ran a traditional slaughterhouse in Ingelheim. In fact, a few weeks later a letter arrived from Wiesbaden to Dani in Bogota with the message, “come, you have an apprenticeship assured with my father in Ingelheim.”
Dani still sparkles all over his face when he talks about it. His dream – to complete an apprenticeship as a butcher in Germany, take the journeyman’s examination, then invest the time for the master’s examination and pass it so that he could hold the German butcher master’s certificate with his name in his hand – was now on the way to fulfillment.
He has achieved all this in over ten years of culinary training in Germany. Now the time had come to go back again to Colombia. The passion as Artisan, a craftsman to produce with his hand’s tasty things have won. Today, the “Sausage King of Bogota” is not only famous for his tens of thousands of bratwursts, which he sells every year at festivals and events, but he is also valued and exclusively commissioned by the German Embassy in the catering service as “the” supplier par excellence. He also created a brand that has now become famous throughout Bogota under the name “Jacobsen Salchichas.” In Calle 63 #3B-53 he owns for some time now the restaurant “Jacobsen Salchichas Alemanas.” From there he also offers his international catering service, under the telephone number: 3175164728.
When I say goodbye to this impressive young man in Bogota, he tells me that he is very grateful to his parents for having postponed their own wish for him to work permanently and firmly at the Artificial Intestine Factory to support their son in his idea of becoming a master of German culinary art. And the son, Dani says, now that he has become successful in his own way, he wants to stand by his father in the factory when and whereever possible.
I’m sure he’ll be able to do that. Just like he did everything, he set out to do in his young life through his diligence and charisma.
Keep up the good work Daniel Alvarez Jacobsen!