Marcel Bonda is chef of restaurant De Jonge Dikkert in Amstelveen
How did you get through the lockdown?
We made take-away menus every week according to the Bib Gourmand concept. With short instruction videos for the last actions. We received great reactions because our dishes, people said, were nice and quickly te serve. When we were allowed to open again, we slowly stopped our take-away because there was less demand. However, we may restart our take-away on certain holidays. We’re very pleased to see that the average sales volume in the restaurant has increased. It is surprisingly often that guests now choose six or seven courses with a nice bottle of wine.’
How do you recognize your cooking style?
‘I don’t necessarily cook local, but with seasonal products from Europe. Why would you only work with Dutch products, when you can get amazing Italian products within a day? The arrangement gets a lot wider to choose from; in the winter, we can hardly get anything else then tubers from our own country.’
You are known for your sea bass, steamed in kombu, cooked in kelp and served with sea vegetables. Are you a fan?
Sea fennel, sea lettuce and samphire can bring more excitement to a dish. In combination with other ingredients, sea vegetables have an amazing taste. I also work with little flavor bombs that i like to hide in the dish. For example, a bit of salted lemon. Or some nuts that, except for a crunch, provide certain flavors, just like herbs. But subtle. I learned that from Richard van Oostenbrugge in Bord’eau. Just as he does, i like clean presentations of dishes.’
I see various dishes with fruit. What is the ultimate combination?
‘I recently came up with a dish based on a Rungis product; a ‘leche de tigre’ with passion fruit and aji mirasol, a Peruvian pepper from which the seeds have been removed and then is dried in the sun. Then it gets sweeter, a little leaning towards apricot. We made an oil from pandan leaf and the result was a delicious vinaigrette with sea bass. We received a lot of great responses to that.’
You serve cauliflower with strawberries?
‘I started with cauliflower beurre noisette, grapefruit and hazelnut. The basis of that dish is that we blanch the cabbage in salt water, bake it in butter and then season it with other ingredients. At one point i thought: i want a new version every season. In December we made a combination with parsley, black truffle, madeira vinaigrette and Swallowchatter, a Camember style cheese from the Achterhoek. In the spring i wanted to used grapes, but then the first Lambada’s arrived via Rungis. I immediately thought: interesting. From there we continued to build the dish with strawberry-verveine vinaigrette, Rouveners cheese, verveine cream and a beautiful almond paste from Italy. When corona broke out, we put everything on hold. Now that the restaurant is open again, we’re still in the strawberry season and there is plenty of verveine: it works out even better. This combination simply works very well; we dry the strawberries in our own drying cabinet and they are therefore more powerful in taste. Less acidic as well. We stick them between the cauliflower hearts, as small powerful snacks. We get the cauliflower hearts from Rungis; for them it’s a waste product.’
What are you looking forward to?
‘To cherries and fresh artichokes. But besides that… summer is a bit of the aftermath of spring. There are new potatoes, legumes and large green asparagus, but unfortunately they are only there for a month. I like spring better; that season is a kind of awakening after the winter period that is mainly based on tubers and sauces. After that you can see the arrangement grow every week; that’s a great time as a chef. It motivates you; everything comes back to life. Then you can focus on really beautiful vegetables.’
Nice: tournedos Rossini
‘It’s one of the greatest classics with our own twist. We use Holstein tenderloin, an old dairy cow that has been raised to a beef cow. With that there are also preparations of duck liver, mushrooms and black truffle. In March we bought a large batch that we preserved in port. There’s also a Cevennes onion with the dish. We let it gently caramelize, then gravy and vinegar are added, after which the onions are further cooked, halved lengthwise and filled with a potato muslin. Instead of the classic toast we use brioche bread and serve a meat gravy from brisket. Then you don’t get a syrupy gravy, but a beautiful reduced broth that we flavor with madeira. I learned that from Robert Kranenborg in l’Europe. We don’t use a lot of items on the plate, but each item has its own preparation.’
‘Because the communication is very pleasant. You have one person of contact with whom you keep in touch via WhatsApp. If something is not right, it gets delivered afterwards. You have the same colleague that comes along with new products and to give you advise if desired. This way you get to know each other, they know what my standards are and what i like to work with. Some products are no longer available after a couple of weeks. Sometimes the season starts earlier or later. I think that are the things you should hear from your supplier. And Rungis does that very well.’