Dennis Kuipers is executive chef of restaurant Vinkeles and brasserie OCCO in hotel The Dylan in Amsterdam
Your kitchen is ‘international French’. Where are your guests from?
‘From America and England. But also people from Asia, South America and Scandinavia know where to find us. Especially the Norwegians. We’re open five times a week and for three to four evenings you won’t hear any Dutch words. We’re on the ‘to do list’ of mant travelers. Because Amsterdam is near Schiphol, our restaurant is regularly visited by guest who have a stopover.’
You make licorice from Forono beet? Doesn’t only Dutch people like that?
Absolutely not, licorice is international. Although we do explain at the table that licorice is something typically Dutch. You know what’s the point; travelers see it everywhere. There are, i believe, 48 types of licorice sold at Schiphol! We cut the Forono beets, which are elongated, into strips so that they look like something we call ‘trek drop’. Then we cook the beets in their own juice and some licorice until al dente. Later on we dry the bars in the oven until they are a bit chewy. We also polish them with some of the cooking liquid, giving the beets a licorice taste. It forms a nice bridge to the Anjou pigeon and the matching sauce from the carcass with duck liver.’
More Dutch influences?
‘Definitely the cheese biscuits we serve to every guest when they enter the door. And with the dessert we only serve Dutch cheeses. They can compete effortlessly with, for example, French cheeses. More? Well, the famous Dutch apple pie with coffee. We also like to use pears during this period. There isn’t much during the winter, but that’s a good thing. Soon you will be stimulated with products that will start again.’
Which vegetables do you like to work with in this season?
‘There’s almost nothing left above the ground; we went below grounds. We do a lot with beets, also in te brasserie. Just like cabbages: in the brasserie we have a creamy soup with green cabbage, smoked carrot and zahtar. I also love the Jerusalem artichoke…’
I also see less known ingredients…
‘With the langoustines we work with myouga ginger, of which you don’t eat the root but the buds. They have an onion-ginger flavor and a great bite. We cook the langoustines in homemade tiger milk, just like ceviche. We also use kohlrabi in this dish, carrot, avocado, goat cheese, citrus, rose water and the Japanese ginger. We also make ponzu ourselves by infusing soy, miring, rice vinegar and orange for two weeks. We marinate roasted scallops in the ponzu and ad sea lettuce, herring roe, sesame, sour cream and furikake, sprinkles of seaweed, sesame and dried bonito flakes.’
You also have an vegetable menu?
‘Yes, but i have to say that it’s not a vegetarian menu. The basis of some sauces is beef or poultry stock. We only don’t use fish or meat as an ingredient. Vegetables predominates, that’s it. This is appreciated by guests who also want to try something different. At the moment we have kohlrabi from the BBQ with lovage, but also dishes with artichoke or salsify in the leading role.’
What is the added value of Rungis?
‘It’s a pleasant supplier. Very good with its delicacies and new products. And they also have a lot of Japanese products in their range. They also have sea lettuce, ponzu and oils. We get our vegetables from them, but also shiso vinegar, fresh wasabi, blackberries; those kind of things. They deliver more than you would expect from a vegetable supplier.’