Michael Schook is owner/chef of restaurant and bar Héroine in Rotterdam
Héroine in French, is probably something you have to say a lot…
‘When we just started, everyone had something to say about our name. Fortunately, people now realize that we are named after a hero, not something else…’
There is one menu. Is this the way to let guests eat differently?
‘Working with just one menu has several advantages. Purchase wise, in terms of organization in the kitchen and because you can constantly test new dishes. With an a la care menu many people would be inclined to choose something with fish or meat. Now guests tell me: I did not expect that i would like this so much! For example, an entree of beet, seaweed, red cabbage and sheep cheese. We try to achieve the wow effect in seven courses, or less if you prefer.’
Vegetables are important to you?
‘Fruit too! We regularly process fruit in savory dishes and vegetables in desserts. Like a cremeux of carrot, granito of orange and chamomile, dill oil, sea buckthorn gel and merengue of chamomile. Inspired by a wild harvest of Frank Radder. I also like to use lemon verbena. One of our dishes is lobster with a Hollandaise sauce made from lobster butter. Together with a salad of kohlrabi with an lemon verbena vinaigrette, yuzu, green strawberries and various types of cress. Plus pink elderflower: which i found thanks to the inspiration box of Rungis!’
What’s your most popular dish?
‘In all menus there is a vegetarian dish with a 62 degrees egg, always in a different combination. Very well received is the egg yolk with ravioli of celeriac, foam of smoked celeriac, crunch of potato chops and deep-fried baby kale. Even people who have a strong preference for meat think this is a delicious dish. This is due to the smoky foam, which has a deep taste, while the egg ensures greasiness. But we always end up with a fresh dessert, so you do not leave with a bloated feeling.’
What are your personal preferences?
‘Those are seasonal. In the spring i’m a big buyer of woodruff and during the summer of stone fruits. September marks the transition from beautiful, fresh to the more earthy flavors such as celeriac and root vegetables. In the winter i like to work with citrus.’
What does Rungis add?
‘The high quality of their products. Rungis is a great supplier who is always looking for new products, that we as cooks can experiment with. They also have a great communication about that. For me, that is an added value.’
You are inspired by world cuisine; in what phase are you now?
‘At the moment we’re Asian-oriented, with mezcal and tacos as South American trips. But that can be completely different next month. Our dishes stay on the menu for a maximum of four to six weeks.’
You prefer no mobile phones i see?
‘That’s meant with a nod. You have to see it as a compliment to your table companions and also to us. You will experience the evening more intensely without a telephone, we think. From a tactical point of view it may not be convenient, but usually it are not the most beautiful pictures that guests make… We prefer to post our own dishes.’
Text: Ellen Scholtens