Roel Gilissen is executive chef of Hotel Des Indes
What are your tasks?
‘Everything actually. We have a central kitchen for fine dining, banqueting parties and different rooms where we cook at a high level, but we also have a brasserie for high tea’s and nowadays also high wines. How we can make that work? By putting the right people in the right places. The advantage of just one kitchen is that you can supervise better. Except as a chef in a Michelin-star restaurant, i also worked at Grand Hotel Winston; where i learned a lot about the hotel industry.’
What is it like to work in an institute?
‘It’s just how you deal with that yourself. All guests are equally important to me. Pressure? I don’t feel that. We cook from the basement; we can’t see what happens upstairs. I still do a lot myself. Four, five days a week i’m at the rotisserie and, if i’m not there, i’m at the pass. I want to leave my mark on the entire process, including educating people myself.’
What has changed since your arrival in 2017?
‘We made it into a fine dining restaurant. As the only non-star restaurant we’re in the top 10 of Dining with the stars, in the same list as FG and Joelia. But again: it’s not about classifications. Letting your guests enjoy everything, that’s what it’s all about.’
Des Indes stands for classic food, right?
‘We cook with a twist; that’s what people appreciate. There are always people who just like to choose a la carte tournedos. But our menus are very innovative. We have foie gras, candied and fried with cream of oysters and -for the bite- raw tuna, with olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and a thin biscuit of orange. And some candied rhubarb. We’re also good at fish-meat combinations such as pork belly with eel or langoustines. Another new dish is turbot with pork belly and snert. Traditionally Dutch.’
Vegetables as garnish or vegetables in the main role?
‘I think that vegetables always played a major role with the higher segment of chefs. Nowadays there’s a focus on vegetables, but with the top chefs it was always an item that was sufficiently present and for which much attention was paid. Good vegetables are just an important part of a dish. Preferably different types or preparations of vegetables. The ‘on a bed of’ has disappeared. You now see two, three variation of carrots on which two, three techniques have been released. Candied in oil, roasted, puffed, you name it. These techniques have been around for some time.’
What are your favorites?
‘Broad beans, of course double-podded: they are so diverse. And mushrooms: raw, fried or candied. Or beautiful Portuguese shiitake, slowly cooked in kombu: that’s truly amazing. It’s one of the few species that reacts well with moisture. And with fruit i choose apples. Maybe a bit ordinary, but you can do so much with them. Apples are sweet, without overpowering. And i obviously follow the seasons: in december we still had the RedLove apples, now we work with Granny Smith.’
What are you looking forward to?
There’s only one right answer: asparagus of course! I used to have my own address, but the supply has to be evenly. Unfortunately, i don’t have the time to drive to Maastricht once a week, where i grew up. Via Rungis i now have a farmer they already work with for several years… But there are more reasons why i choose Rungis. The company is innovative and i like to stay up-to-date with the latest products. I see Rungis as a young, ambitious cook who wants to achieve the same as me. That forces you to move with the time. And to become even better. Rungis actually isn’t a vegetable suppliers, but one of my chefs.’