Bas Brouns is executive chef at Ron Gastrobars (Sophialaan, Oriental, Indonesia, Indonesia Downtown, Central Station)
How is the division of tasks between you and Ron Blaauw?
‘Ron comes up with the ideas, i then sit down with the kitchen chef from one of the restaurants and write everything down. The guys in the kitchen create the dishes, and Ron will taste them, until something is approved. Not as strict as Ferran Adrià in his documentary, but strict enough. His name is on the line when something goes wrong. And we get the praise if it’s all good. That’s the reality.’
What is Ron good at? And you?
‘Ron shows his courage by moving away from the Michelin stars and all the frills on the plate. The Gastrobars stand for pure food without all the craziness. The rice table in Indonesia is incredible, just like the Peking duck at Oriental. The skin is crispy and the skin is still pink. My strength is that i sense what Ron wants and i think in the same way as he. Throughout the years we created our own unique style. Our dishes consist of four, at most five actions that are performed to perfection. Sometimes we can surprise guests with just three actions on a plate…’
You work with different types of kitchen: how do you get your inspiration?
‘By talking with our suppliers; about what they can offer in a certain season. But also by reading a lot of cookbooks, going out for food and of course through the internet and Instagram. Simply said: by what i see and hear… I often visit London, a city with many great restaurants. Ron and i recently visited Barcelona where Albert Adria and Alex Atala from D.O.M. Brazil entered into a partnership. Wherever we tasted something, there are always dishes that are great or not that great in taste, even at NOMA. But i have to say, we ate a dish there that was absolutely amazing: king crab, steamed, with egg yolk sauce and fermented vinegar. If you can surprise people with that little items…’
Are you a vegetable fan?
‘Absolutely. The pointed cabbage, for example, we cut in half and fry in a knob of butter. We then at vegetable broth and a cartouche, a circle of baking paper, which makes it cook nice and quickly. After cooling, the cabbage is smoked and then barbecued…’
But cauliflower is your signature dish!
‘Definitely, it stays on the vegetarian menu in the Gastrobar at the Sophialaan. Classically prepared with brown butter and Pierre Robert. But it’s also available with a bit of largo. Or anchovy. Delicious is our steamed omelet with trompette te la mort and some vegetables with smoked Hollandaise. The omelet is folded in half, a simple but intense dish. Vegetable shashlik for the barbecue also sounds simple, but the vegetables we use are prepared in different ways: roasted, preserved, as sweet and sour… Different structures on a skewer: from eggplant and bell pepper to onion with a dip and barbecued jalapeño peppers.
What do you like to work with in December?
‘With earthy flavors. With mushrooms, potatoes, cabbage, cavolo nero and Brussels sprouts. Sometimes the sprouts are blanched in a salad and sometimes we serve them crispy with some blue cheese; as a vegetarian starter. But they’re at their best with game, with lievre a la royale with hare, black pudding and liver. We also serve them as a side dish, with bacon and cocotte. We like doing things that someone else doesn’t do or failed doing.’
Why do you work with Rungis?
‘Because of their quality products. A dish starts with high quality ingredients: otherwise you can never make something good out of it. Rungis has a very wide range of products. And the collaboration is also great and their colleagues come at the exact right time with an inspiration box. That’s how you immediately know: this is in season, now is the time. And if i want something special, they start looking for it. They’re very innovative.’
Do you miss Maastricht?
‘I love to be with my family and in the landscapes of Limburg i can really relax, but after a few days i miss the dynamics of Amsterdam. With Ron i am at my place. He makes room for my ideas and for the team: that also creates a family feeling.’