Dick Middelweerd is owner/chef of De Treeswijkhoeve in Waalre
Finally some good weather! Or do you prefer to cook when guests eat indoors?
‘There are indeed soms chefs who don’t like to serve their dishes outside. I understand that; meat, for example, discolors very quickly. But our guests love to eat outside; it makes them happy. Our garden is our USP. The experience is completely different and in the end it’s all about the guest. We chefs like to think it’s all about our dishes, but enjoying dinner under our plane trees provides extra relaxation…’
Your menu is also quite green…
‘You mean our three vegetarian minis? They purely represent what we have to offer; what we have right now based on the seasons. Not everything comes from Rungis. As a two-starred restaurant we have to be next level, so we also work with farmers who don’t think in a traditional way but want to grow customize products especially for us. That’s only possible on a small scale.’
But your kitchen in international!
‘That’s what makes our way of cooking more exciting. But we do look per country; we only take the ingredients from that particular country. We are not going to use flavors interchangeable. If you want to do something Japanese, keep it Japanese. For example, don’t use coriander, otherwise your guests don’t understand it anymore. The sambal tjoeka with our veal tenderloin Indonesia is an exception. Normally we use radishes or black radishes for that dish, but cauliflower is a good alternative. Like with our gado gado in which we sometimes use asparagus or beets during the winter. It’s a dish that’s been on the menu since 2011. Because it’s indicated by Michelin as a specialty in the guide.’
What do you think of the focus on more vegetables?
‘Really good. People are much more thinking about their health; i notice that for myself too. The first book i made with Guus Meeuwis was happier, with a bit more mayonnaise in it. The second cookbook contains more vegetables, shakes and gluten-free dishes. In the future, i believe vegetables will get a leading role on the menu. Only the ’80-20 percent’ rule is a problem; it sometimes scares people. We do the following thing: we don’t tell when there’s something vegetarian in the menu, but afterwards ask what guests liked the best. Most often it’s the vegetable dish. Then people are surprised they haven’t even missed the meat or fish. I think that’s the biggest compliment.’
You also set a good example with Trees voor Thuis (Trees at home)…
‘With our meal service vegetables also play an important role. Because we miss the true healthy meals in the supermarket, we have been making daily fresh dishes for at home for over ten years now; for people in the area. For example ravioli of porcini mushrooms with grilled zucchini, basil, roasted tomato and Parmesan cheese. You can order in the morning and in the afternoon your bag will be ready. It keeps our restaurant approachable.
Name a popular vegetable dish in De Treeswijkhoeve!
‘At the moment it’s the green Pertuis asparagus with morels, turnip-tops and egg yolk with local goat cheese from Heeze. We crumble that: we make it into some kind of powder. By the way, the entire team is involved in the devising of new dishes. We have an inspirational wall for over twenty years where our chefs can put their ideas on. That works great. Just like our vegetarian friday were our employees are challenged to do something with vegetables for the staff-food. There’s even a colleague who has been a vegetarian since then.’
What are your favorites?
‘We recently received some beetroots that looked like little apples; they were that sweet. We cook them or prepare them on the barbecue. The skin gets removed, then cut into small pieces, a bit of vinegar is added and some raspberry coulis is put on top for extra sweetness. What we’re looking forward to now are the asparagus, porcini mushrooms, green peas and broad beans. Also delicious will be the red fruits. Preferably lightly marinated with a little lime. You have to give this type of fruit its value: the structure of a strawberry…’
‘In the first place because of the enormously wide range of products. And as an extra, i’m a big Japan fanatic and Rungis imports a lot from Japan; that’s also an important reason. And besides that, the service and the people from Rungis are great. The familiarly suits us