Bas van kranen
Bas van Kranen is executive chef of Restaurant Bord’eau in Amsterdam
From De Leuf to Bord’eau: was it a big transition?
‘I love it here at hotel l’Europe. Limburg was nice for a couple of years but i’m happy with all the hustle around me. It gives me energy. All the different cultures are so interesting and everything is possible in Amsterdam. What i did before i worked at l’Europe, isn’t what i’m doing now. I let that in the past. I want to fully focus on the product. I want guests to know at the end of the evening what they have eaten. With us you’ll never get more than three different flavors on your plate. My way of cooking is all about peace and simplicity. But that also makes it a very sensitive way of cooking. Everything comes close to the right temperature, the acids in the gravy and the finishing. We make everything ourselves every day: the juices, the vegetable preparations and all the gravies. A lot happens at the last minute; we have a true fresh kitchen. Tasting everything is very important if you cook like this. From the beginning we asked Robert Kranenborg to come and taste everything. He learned us to not just taste the dish one time, but take the time for it every week. With the right focus and concentration and not in the middle of all the hustle of work. It makes sense when you think about it. Most of the time you just taste one element of the dish. If it works technically. But some ingredients together can give a total different result. But it’s also possible that a fruit just isn’t ripe enough. Or that you got a different type of apple. That’s when you have to make adjustments, sometimes even opt for something else. But that’s okay. Sometimes even a better dish comes out.’
How much freedom do you get?
‘From day one i can do what i like. We serve fifteen dishes, divided in flora, fauna and eau. Three categories that all have their own season in which they excel. At the moment the shellfish and a couple of fish are at their best; so now is their time to shine. Everything is prepared around the theme of the sea. But our guests can decide for themselves, what they fancy at that time. Many restaurants don’t do the a la carte and only work with menus. But we want to know what the guest fancies at that time. Like sweetbread or a dish with celeriac. But if you would like 4 vegetable dishes, that’s also a possibility.’
I also see fruit on the menu…
‘That’s right, although i have to say that i hate sweetness. With onion, celeriac or beetroot i try to bring out the bitter by preparation, for example by roasting the vegetables. Or removing the acids by fermenting the product; that can bring a lot of exciting flavors to a dish. We work a lot with acids. Like the wild strawberry vinegar with a very high acidity level; it gives such a kick. Or ferment apple juice, like cider, serve with duck liver.’
Your celery with ‘bordelaise’ mole sounds exciting!
‘That’s a meaty dish where our ‘bordelaise’ is based on a classic red wine sauce but with different vegetables. We give them a dark roasting; close to the bitterness. Vegetables are an important basis in the kitchen. They make the dish easy digestible; they’re essential to a dish.’
The Damascus rose also stands out…
‘That’s a classic; it’s on the menu from the very beginning. The rose has many different textures. The base is a sorbet of lychee and beet with lots of leaves around it, made from different preparations of beet, lychee and almond. Amazing to see and very tasty. It takes around 20 to 25 minutes to build each rose. My pastry chefs aren’t always amused with me when this dish is on the menu.’
What are you looking forward to?
‘I don’t do a lot with flowers, twigs and cresses. March to me means that sweet vegetables get replaced by vegetables that grow above the ground, who are slightly more bitter and have more crispiness. Pertuis asparagus are a personal favorite: i absolutely love them. They are only available for two or three weeks a year. And that short time i can really enjoy the structure, the creaminess and the nutty taste. But i also enjoy the first leek that’s harvested, those young and thin leeks. I’m constantly looking for the real season with my suppliers. What is actually growing in Europe and what is changing due to the climate change.’
‘Their employees understand my type of kitchen. They know how critical i am about structure and taste. Our strength is the cooperation: i let them know what i like and what i don’t. They say: lavas isn’t growing anymore, you better look for something else. I have different ideas such as using the leaves of different types of berry bushes. Or very young fruits, that young they didn’t even had a chance to develop a seed. Rungis arranges everything with their farmers so we can try out different stages in the life of a fruit. That’s what i like; they help you with your ideas.’