Sergio Herman is an inspirational figure for chefs and foodies alike. His work ethic and determination led him to the top of the culinary world making him one of the most recognised and talented chefs in the world.
For his story, you may want to take a look at our more in-depth interview.
When we meet chefs we like to ask a series of similar questions to try and get insight into what they look for when they eat out, what they like to eat, their mentors and their view on an issue on which we like to raise awareness – food waste.
So we started this set of questions seeking Sergio’s view of food waste. “Here at The Jane, we try to waste as little as possible. Trimmings which we don’t use are turned into stews, served in the bar or to staff. We try to work with everything, maybe making chips with the trimmings from vegetables.”
“Sometimes I look around and see all the fish being used in restaurants around the world, I ask where is this all coming from. I worry because I think that we will not be able to continue working with certain produce in future. It is not going to happen now, but in a few years time we might lose a lot of things if we are not careful,” he tells me.
“Think of all those restaurants in the world working with certain ingredients. It is just not sustainable. We try to work as much as we can with vegetables. But we cannot just serve only vegetables. What is important is to find balance. Our ‘amuse-bouches’ at The Jane are mainly vegetarian.”
Sergio is also concerned about the waste that goes in and out of restaurants. “All the products come in boxes, cartons, plastic. It is just unbelievable. We need to work together as chefs to lead by example. If we do it together, it would mean a lot. It is great that many chefs start to work in this direction. We need to lead the way and show people how it is done. Let’s face it, nowadays it is so easy to go to a supermarket, put everything in your car and go home. Then you see in your fridge that a vegetable might not be looking so good any more and you throw it away. I know that it goes like that. If you go to a supermarket and buy a packet of spinach or rocket, there might be too much. You put it at the back of the fridge and it’s gone because you will not use it again,” he said. I can only nod in agreement.
Chefs that inspired you?
Chefs that follow an old style but have their own vision.
Best meal ever?
(Stops to think) Pierre Gaignaire – his restaurant in St. Etienne.
What wouldn’t you eat?
Brussels Sprouts, I don’t like them.
Do you cook at home?
Yes, not every day but I try to cook one or two days at home.
I like Arabic food and flavours. Cumin and coriander.
Technology in restaurant kitchens. What will go into the home kitchens in the next five years?
I don’t know. The techniques of the last years have been coming from El Bulli. Professionals are in the kitchen working every day. They use things like pacojets, thermomix, and the equipment to make foam. Now you see some people have it at home. Not only the hobby chefs but more people who start cooking. I think the hobby chefs go further than normal but it is still difficult to have a sous-vide machine or the equipment to vacuum pack things at home.
Best places to eat out in the Netherlands, Belgium?
My restaurants The Jane and Pure C! There are a lot of good places but actually over the last years I don’t eat so many times in restaurants. I eat simple things with my kids. I see myself more like my father. When I used to go out with my father, he used to eat classic things and I used to ask why was he eating all the classic things. But now I am also like that. I am looking at where can I eat a good fish soup, or a good piece of meat with friends and just a good salad or dame blanche. This is what I enjoy about eating out.
In the world?
There are so many places. It is funny but when I go to places like Paris or London, I like to first go to small restaurants, to see what is new and what’s good. This is what I look out for first. I like to go to visit simple places. I normally try to find the places to enjoy from journalists who I know. So sometimes, you go to London and you end up going to the same places because it’s very good. What’s good is good. In London, I like Zuma because of the flavours, it’s fast, there is a nice crowd and the food is always good. It’s pure and consistent.
In October, I was in Hong Kong and ended up eating in a small Thai restaurant in a very commercial area. It was just so good. And one of the nicest concepts I came across recently in Hong Kong was a place serving just chicken. They just had chicken on the menu and served it in every dish. For me it was wow. Such a nice concept to discover.
Sergio Herman is an inspirational person and just spending time with him fills you with a certain energy. So don’t miss our next article on the things we learnt from this great chef. Lots of life lessons to ponder on.