Top Address for Gourmets
BOS FOOD in Meerbusch-Büderich has been a success story now for more than 20 years. The leading delicatessen specialist supplies some 1,000 top chefs and 5,000 consumers, mainly in Germany and Austria. There are many reasons for BOS FOOD's success: the select range of 10,000 articles from small-scale producers throughout the world, the particularly ingenious storage system, the company's reliability and its fast delivery. But perhaps the most important reason is that founder and proprietor Ralf Bos thinks the same way as his customers. After all, he used to be one of them and switched sides – from catering to trade. He left school at 14 without any professional aspirations. Catering fascinated him. In the kitchen, everyone was equal. All that counted was performance. He followed in the footsteps of a friend and did an apprenticeship as a chef and waiter at the Ramada Hotel "Seestern" in Düsseldorf, became a sommelier and barkeeper, and then worked in catering in Davos, Switzerland and on the German island of Sylt. So why did he choose Büderich on the outskirts of Düsseldorf for the location of his company? A little nostalgia played a role, because this is where he went to school, and this is where he also founded his first company. Today, he still lives near Büderich, in the town of Kaarst, together with his wife and three daughters.
But success wasn't that straightforward. After ten years of hard work in catering, Bos became a tour manager for the German pop band "Wind" – a brainchild of producer Ralph Siegel – in 1984/85. Then he turned his hobby of electronics into his job and founded a company – Bos TTV GmbH – to import and sell communication technology from an attic in Büderich. He started with American answering machines, for which there was great demand. After five years, he sold the company, making a good profit: the seed capital for BOS FOOD, which he founded in 1990 together with his cousin Ralf Borkowsky, a qualified business administrator. But Ralf Bos, who was born in 1961, is not just a combination of a businessman and an epicurean. He's a family man who also has a talent for talking about good food and its ingredients in an entertaining way. He has already written several books and made a number of television documentaries. And he also has a great sense of social responsibility. In his company with its 150 employees, the atmosphere is good and people deal with each other in a friendly manner. He developed the cross-Germany aid programme "Spitzenköche für Afrika" ("top chefs for Africa") with Eckart Witzigmann as patron, which raised more than €265,000 for Karlheinz Böhm's "Menschen für Menschen" foundation. Today, Bos is a member of the foundation's committee. Furthermore, he is the new ambassador for the children's hospice in Nordhausen, central Germany.
Anyone who takes the trip to BOS FOOD in Grünstrasse enters an exclusive combination of delicatessen, office and café bar. But you only sense that this company had a sales turnover of more than €26 million in 2011 when Ralf Bos takes visitors to the warehouses behind the shop. There, you find out that chocolate is best stored at a temperature of 15°C. Salami from small Italian producers and ham from Spanish butchers have their own room in which they can mature. A qualified butcher is responsible for looking after them alone. Ham on the bone becomes sour if it is stored at cool temperatures. That is why Bos keeps it constantly at 13°C. And it is doubtful that any visitor has seen as many truffles at once as in BOS FOOD's warehouse. After his successful book on the subject, Ralf Bos is now known in Germany as "the truffle pope". The smell in this section is unique. And the wines are stored even better than at the at the producers themselves, as they are kept at an even temperature over long periods in the cold store. The whole system is thought-out and consistent – far from being trendy and simply expensive.
A paw indicates the way into the culinary empire of BOS FOOD. Bos invented this company logo 20 years ago. His first imported product was wild rice from Canada, which was delivered in 40-kilo bags. He was therefore inspired to choose a bear's paw, as a symbol of North America. But when he saw pictures of the tracks of real bears in the snow, he preferred to make them much smaller – like teddy bears' paws, he adds with a smile. And speaking of humour: Ralf Bos isn't just a good talker and salesman, he also knows the right people. For example, Ingo Holland, the Michelin-starred chef from the Winzerstübchen restaurant in Klingenberg am Main. For 15 years, it was a running gag to get Holland to create new spice mixtures. Ralf Bos discovered him – and Holland knew every herb. In 2007, after encouragement from Bos, Holland became a self-employed salt and spice specialist. So it's no surprise that the Ingo Holland spice range is available at BOS FOOD.
But not only the selection of products is spot-on, but also the logistics. With four drivers, the goods are delivered to the region Düsseldorf, Mönchengladbach, Krefeld and Neuss in two tours. If you order at breakfast time, you can have the goods in your kitchen by lunchtime. However, most of the products are ordered via catalogue, telephone or online and then shipped with a haulier. Customers throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland who order by 4.30 pm will receive their goods the following morning. Ninety per cent of the orders come from Germany. Apart from fresh ingredients such as meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, there are 20 similarly large segments like spices and oil and vinegar – in other words, anything that can be easily shipped. Bos gets most of his products from Spain and France, followed by Italy, where he is particularly fond of the Emilia Romagna region. When the German "Feinschmecker" magazine asked him to name his three favourite olive oils as part of an olive oil survey, his recommendations landed in the top, second and fourth place. Now, his shelves are filled with more than 100 different oils and around 160 vinegars. Monday is the busiest day, with over 1,000 orders, followed by Tuesdays and Wednesdays with 800 orders each. Demand drops to 330 on Friday. Above the packing stations, cameras record the loading of the individual packages. If there is a complaint, the company can seamlessly track which goods went out, and whether and how they were packaged. Among Bos's customers are not only top restaurants, but also ship suppliers and airlines, who place particular emphasis on reliability. And despite the global economic crisis, the company is continuously expanding. In 2011, it grew 10% compared with the previous year. This period of growth has been interrupted only once, in 2001, the year of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. For Ralf Bos, Germany isn't a country for gourmets. With potatoes and bread, the focus is on sustenance only, not on pleasure. Many people in Germany today treat their food as something fast and cheap – and, if possible, to be consumed while walking along. As an ambassador for culinary culture, Ralf Bos is putting up some resistance, and his success proves that he's not fighting a losing battle.
BOS FOOD Düsseldorf GmbH