Onno Kokmeijer is executive chef of Ciel Beu at Okura in Amsterdam
Glad it´s May?
‘Depends on the weather. In this last period we noticed some guests were n’t yet ready for certain dishes. I’m hoping for some nice days: everyone will get exited again about the first morels, asparagus, samphire, sea lavender and other vegetables from the sea. And don’t forget the strawberries. The funny thing is: people won’t believe the Lamabada’s come from the Netherlands!’
Do you see yourself as a vegetable man?
‘Very, although i don’t explicitly show them on the menu. This has to do with the availability. Because of this way of working we’re flexible. We can work with everything that’s available at the exact moment. Three to four times a week we discuss with Rungis. Instead of ordering boxes full we’re aloud to order an ounce of one thing and a little bit of something else. I think it’s awesome if a supplier is able to think this small. We also have the agreement: everything that’s new, will come our way. The mini vegetables for example. I think they’re a real invention.’
Some people won't believe the Lambada's come from the Netherlands
What do you do with the mini vegetables?
‘On this menu whe have dove in a salt crust which we tap open on the table: such a great preparation. We serve them with a mousseline made out of the first young peas and mini kohlrabi the size of a thumb. But so flavourful! We cook them to give them an extra ‘bite’. With the foliage still attached and we make sure to keep it cripsy and green.’
You intend to work a lot with creams…
‘That’s right, but vegetables that can handle it, will get the leading position. Such as cauliflower: so incredible versatile and so beautiful. Not ontly the roses, also the branches and the grains. It’s like a tree branch.
On the menu we have seven differtent kinds of preparation for onions. We don’t only serve mousselin from smoked onion and compote from red onion with our sea bass, but we also serve the ‘small bowls’ from the cevenne onion. With the small red onions we make an sweet and sour, for the crunchiness we have chips made out of sjalottes. And with the easy dry we make a powder from the onion which we mix with fleur de sel. Finally, we have the stoneleek, family of the onion. We put the greens on ice. We make ribbons out of them which will curl. They also provide a nice crunch and bite.’