XPAT Spotlight interview with Carina and David Mohr, owners of the German butcher shop YouBite in Camarillo. Their traditional German Bratwursts and a variety of smoked products are all handcrafted and made according to German family recipes. Produced with the help of German machinery, which they imported to the USA – it can’t get more German than that!
Carina and David, both settled in California after having traveled the world. For Carina, life abroad is nothing new. Born and mostly raised in Cologne, she got already an early taste of living abroad when she was ten years old. Her parents moved the family for 5 years to Pune in India, where they opened a Turkey Farm. For David, however, who was born in Bonn and later lived between Cologne and Bonn, settling abroad is a new, exciting adventure.
What made you decide to leave Germany and move to California?
Carina: I have always loved exploring new countries. In 2012 my now husband David and I decided to quit our jobs in Germany to go and travel and explore Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and parts of Indonesia. During that time, my parents told us about their idea of investing in a new business. My parents have been living in the USA for about 15 years now (mostly in New Hampshire – they moved to California in spring 2014). They have another business but missed German sausages and wanted to bring a little bit of the German cuisine to California. Baiting us with opening a business in California and making good food products, it did not take long to convince us.
How did your family and friends react?
For my family it wasn’t a big shock – we have been used to living apart and traveling the world. With my parents living in the US for so long, my sister living in England, I guess my two brothers were betting on who was going to go somewhere next. Plus, with the India-experience we are all aware and very understanding about the curiosity that lives within us to explore and see the world.
Not only family, also friends were very understanding. Of course there were quite a few discussions however. In Germany it is not very common to move around. You usually stick to your profession in order to build your career and you usually do not leave the region let alone the country to follow another career path. However with our Australia-Travels they were already eased into the topic of us being “Welten-Bummler”.
Living in California. Is it a dream come true for both of you?
I never imagined living in the US, and then California of all places. This is paradise. Perfect weather most of the year, friendly people and beautiful nature. I am thankful, that David and I got the luck of exploring this place and building up a business from scratch in a completely foreign country!
Did you experience initial challenges upon moving to California? How did you adapt?
It has definitely been a challenge moving to California and setting up a new business.
Firstly as being self-employed, it took us quite some time to adjust. Californians are very friendly and open people but we were not able to really befriend someone. We didn’t have co-workers you could go and grab a beer with, we didn’t have children that would get you an “in” with the other parents…. At the beginning, meaning the first few months, that was a real problem for us. We always skyped with home (be it family or friends) because we were missing something. Then David started playing soccer and through that we found some nice connections. Plus, the business YOUBITE started taking off.
Secondly, getting to know the local practices of where to get which permit, which permit do we need, which authorities to visit… it’s a long list of new and there was also some unexpected bureaucracy we had to face. But in the end we mastered the challenge. But even despite us knowing that California is quite expensive, it still took us a while to realize how MUCH more the cost of living here is compared to Germany.
Nevertheless we adapted quite quickly to the culture and also the language. Even though we do miss the “deutsche Gemütlichkeit” and the “Verbindlichkeit” when you have an appointment or are even just set on meeting with friends. But we soon learned the phrase “to take a rain check”. Our friends are still surprised when we show up on time and we can all laugh when we get annoyed when we have to wait on others, who don’t take punctuality too seriously.
Did you re-invent yourself here in California?
We definitely re-invented ourselves!
Carina: I used to work as a production manager for a German TV production company. However, I have always wanted to actually hands-on produce something. And I have always been interested in artesian food products. With my parents being farmers we always got the freshest fruit and vegetables. And my father used to butcher our chickens and turkeys himself. So I grew up with that insight.
David: I would consider my life to have taken quite the turn since moving to California. Growing up with a butcher next door and having parents who run a catering business from our house I had always been around food production but after I finished school I started to work in finance, kind of a “desk guy”. After moving to California I started to nourish some skills that I didn’t even know I had. Before I came here I wouldn’t have had considered myself a handyman. But after working in our new business, installing plumbing and electricity and repairing our machinery, I would consider myself quite adept at least with our machines. A big difference to my skills that I acquired in Germany.
We now make German sausages at YOUBITE ( www.you-bite.com)!
Tell us a bit about your new Business venture!
To give you a short rundown: YOUBITE is a German sausage manufacturer. We source our meat mostly local and turn it into traditional German sausages which taste just like home. And we never use any MSG’s, gluten or fillers. It is as clean as you get it in Germany at the local ‘Metzger’. So we started going to the local farmers markets in order to sell our products and there found like-minded people which we are now happy to call very close friends.
At YOUBITE, we make everything from scratch. When we moved over to the US we brought all the needed machinery with us as well, which of course turned out to be a little bit of a hassle with the power connections. But we are glad we did it – especially in the sausage segment there are no better machines than the German ones– after all that is where the best Wurst is made! My father Heinz taught us how to make the sausages and we can proudly say that we now make it all ourselves. From pork to turkey as well as lamb sausages. From ‘Leberkäse’ and Fleischwurst to Grillwurst and Bratwurst. From mild to spicy and from traditional recipes to new original Wursts.
We sell either online (www.you-bite.com/shop), at the local farmers markets in Ventura and LA counties and at our shop in Camarillo (745 W Ventura Blvd, Unit J, Camarillo CA 93010 | Open Tue – Fri 8am – 5pm | Sat 8am – 1:30pm).
We are a classic family run and operated business. While David and I produce everything, we have help from my parents Carmen and Heinz to sell at the various farmers markets. We are proud to say that the community in Ventura County is very supportive of small businesses that handcraft fresh food items. And the positive feedback and the smiles we get every day from our clientele tell us that we are doing the right thing. Showing people that it doesn’t take a lot to cook a rich and tasty meal instead of grabbing convenience food at the grocery store day in/day out is something that we like to do.
What do you love about California and what do you miss?
Carina: I love the nature and the vastness of California. Especially Ventura County – we have the Ocean right at our door step and, only a 30 min drive away, we are in the midst of beautiful mountains. Another 30 minutes and you can visit the desert. We are close to Los Angeles without having to live in the metropolitan environment. It is just plain beautiful here.
I do however miss the seasons. If you travel a little bit north – to Yosemite for example – you can quickly get into that lush green environment that I miss from Germany.
I also do miss the “Gemütlichkeit” of just sitting at a Café or Biergarten and enjoying the “Feierabend”. We have the perfect weather here to do it every night, but the locations where you can do so unfortunately always require a bit of a drive – if you can find them, that is. But on the other hand, you can always get together with friends to enjoy a BBQ – because the weather is just always good!
David: I love the outdoor activities that are possible in California. You can play whatever sport, whenever and you can plan outdoor activities without having to worry about rain or bad weather most of the time. Since I am a big fan of the ocean, I can’ imagine living without it anymore. Goin surfing, snorkeling, or kayaking whenever I feel like it, I wouldn’t want to miss that anymore.
What’s your cure for occasional Heimweh?
If Heimweh comes up, we skype with friends and family in Germany because the world is so connected these days that technology for us mostly cures short term Heimweh. We also travel back once a year to reabsorb everything we miss. But when we are over there, we are always eager to come back to California. We will always miss Germany but that’s because we’re as German as it gets .
What’s your special XPAT Tip for living here in California?
The first and foremost thing is that you should be willing to immerse yourself in the Californian culture. Try to improve your language skills, make social connections and most of all enjoy life.
Also, when you move over to California do not end up comparing it with Germany. Neither money-wise, nor socially. It is a different culture and a different country. If you get upset about the amount of plastic, fuel or water being wasted don’t fret – just do your best to consume less and explain to your friends how to reduce the waste. Also be prepared to let go of what you have heard about the Americans – it is just a stereotype and people will surprise you.
Try to take advantage of the beautiful nature this State has to offer you! Yes, there is a lot of driving involved, but it is worth it.
Thank you so much, Carina and David, for speaking with us. You guys are in for a great adventure! We wish you much luck with your new life here in California and much success with your German sausage business YOUBITE!
Get in Contact with Carina & David at YouBite:
YOUBITE, LLC – 745 W Ventura Blvd., Unit J, Camarillo, CA 93010
Email: info (at)you-bite.com
Phone: (805) 308 3682