De Librije, the three Michelin starred restaurant of Jonnie and Therese Boer in Zwolle, has opened the doors in its new location within the Librije’s hotel today, 20 January 2015.
Jonnie and Therese Boer told Food and Wine Gazette that after more than 28 years, in their restaurant they wanted to change. “We wanted to get new energy and new inspiration. Moreover the building which housed the old De Librije was old and required major changes. So instead we opted to change the restaurant and move it to De Librije’s hotel which is an old prison from the 1700s,” said Therese Boer, who leads the front of house and is a trained viticulturist and wine specialist.
The Dutch chef is known for putting the Netherlands on the culinary landscape with his love of ingredients and his consciousness for food waste.
After his presentation at Chef Sache in Cologne I ask him how he finds inspiration and comes up with new ideas. He told me that a lot of inspiration comes from experience and experimentation. “I love to experiment and I am still not ready yet,” he said with a smile.
The new restaurant promises to retain the same philosophy of De Librije which is to put his suppliers in the limelight.
He emphasises, for example, how he makes sure that the shrimps he serves are delivered to his restaurant on the same day they are caught. “All the fishing boats that go out at sea for more than two days end up treating fish and shellfish with chemicals. It happens everywhere. This is terrible. I don’t know what the health implications are, but clearly the product is changing because it is five days old and does not taste the way I want it.”
De Librije has been championing Dutch produce for the past years and he hopes that more Dutch chefs will follow suit in the coming years. “I hope that in the future we continue to do what we have started 20 years ago, which is to serve more local produce without hyping things up. You need to have trust in your country and your region,” he says.
It is clear that Boer and Sergio Hermann have left their mark on the Dutch culinary scene. I ask him where he sees Dutch cuisine going in the next ten years. “A lot of Dutch chefs have been trained in France by the French. Many serve sole from Brittany. It is great but you can also find it in the Netherlands. If they do what we have done in the past 10 years, the Dutch culinary scene will continue to improve,” he says.
He recalls how he was forced to use Dutch produce in the past. “It was not a busy restaurant and to be frank, we could not afford to buy our lamb from France because it was too expensive. We found Dutch farmers who could provide us with what we wanted. Now we have many producers who supply us with the things we need. When I started working at De Librije everybody was cooking French. We moved to being pure Dutch. I think that you should not buy produce from another country if you can get it from your region or country,” he said.
Boer has also been instrumental in raising the issue of food waste in the Netherlands. At Chef’s Revolution, which they organise every two years, they created a stand and served burgers and hotdogs with meat which would otherwise have gone to waste. “We need to talk with our governments and ministers without a lot of hype and ask them to act. When I spoke to a minister, he was not aware that so many animals were being killed in the Netherlands for nothing. The farmers were actually paying to kill the animals when I want to buy them.”
Jonnie and Therese tell me that Chef’s Revolution will be back next year if they can find the finances to organise it. In last year’s edition, they had an impressive line-up of world famous chefs. I asked them who they would like to have for the next event. They indicated that they would like to get Magnus Nilsson of Faviken in Sweden and Heston Blumenthal from the UK. That would be a must visit like their new restaurant in Zwolle.