Vacation destination field kitchen

If you’re on vacation in the summer, you put your feet up or treat yourself to some other well-deserved time off. Oliver Pockberger from Ansbach in Bavaria does things differently. He uses his six-week vacation to volunteer for the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW). Travemünder Woche, Wacken, Tauberfestival and field cook training in Austria – his schedule as THW kitchen chef is tight. “I like doing this, all on a voluntary basis, and I’ve been doing it for 25 years now,” says the 37-year-old.

“Have you had dessert yet?”, “Did it taste good?”, “I also have fresh waffles there,” says Pockberger as he walks through the small food tent on the Travemünder Woche grounds with a container of round waffles with the THW logo. The kitchen manager from Bavaria takes good care of his “guests,” the TW volunteers. That he enjoys his “job,” as he calls his volunteer work, is something you can believe when you watch him.

With a team of five to seven helpers, “Pocky”, as he is called by the other THW members, takes care of the catering for the volunteers at the Travemünde Week. The catering team has cooked around 1200 meals at the TW since the Saturday of the opening weekend and always serves them in a good mood directly from the field kitchen. Pea soup, goulash or homemade spaetzle – every day the team provided culinary variety and hardly let anyone go without dessert. The good mood in the tent was also transferred to the “food guests”. Hardly anyone ends the lunch break without a “thank you” to the kitchen crew.

The special challenge for him as kitchen manager at the Travemünder Woche would have been that it was never clear beforehand how many people would come to eat on any given day. “I also let my kitchen crew experiment a little sometimes. That increases motivation and the mood,” he says. He acquired the knowledge for the “job” in the kitchen area as a hobby. In his “normal” life, he is a logistics master for biogas plants, says Pockberger. And cooking is also rather hardly part of his everyday life. “At home, I’m not allowed to cook. I can’t even cook for a small number of people anymore, and it’s easy for me to oversalt the food because I get the quantities wrong,” he says with a laugh. “In the Ahr Valley, we fried 1,400 onions in one day and cooked six tons of goulash,” says volunteer Baris Cokgenc from the Red Cross in Hamburg, describing the quantities that are sometimes prepared in the THW kitchen. In contrast to the THW in Ansbach, where the waiting list for new helpers is full, it is difficult to acquire new volunteers in a large city like Hamburg, reveals Cokgenc.

The Travemünde Week is not quite over yet, and Pockberger is already traveling on to his next assignment: the Wacken Festival. One day of preparation and nine night shifts as well as the catering of 250 to 300 people daily with a 29-member team await him there. From there, “Pocky” goes on to another festival and then to Austria as a volunteer instructor for field cooks, where his family will join him for a few days. After that, Pockberger’s six weeks of summer vacation are already over and the “normal” job calls again – until the next assignment in the THW kitchen.