Syrco Bakker is the chef of Pure C and one of the rising stars in the Netherlands. He has had stints with Gordon Ramsay, Jonnie Boer and Sergio Herman at Oud Sluis before being entrusted to head the kitchen at Pure C in 2010.
Herman described Syrco as a chef with an inexhaustible amount of creativity. “He is extremely talented and just as passionate as me,” Sergio says about Syrco.
You can read our full interview with Syrco here. In this quick question and answer with Syrco you will learn a bit more about this very talented Dutch chef.
What have you learned from Jonnie Boer, Gordon Ramsay and Sergio Herman?
From Jonnie Boer, I learned to work with great local ingredients. He was one of the first chefs to go directly to farmers. I also learnt how important it is to have a very good family atmosphere in a restaurant. This has become extremely important nowadays. It is something that I really appreciate when I look back and it is no wonder that he and Therese have retained a lot of their staff. They are extremely strong in this regard.
From Gordon Ramsay I learnt the importance of quality control. The level of quality control is just amazing. Everything is checked before it is served and when it enters the kitchen. I’ve learned a lot from that experience. In every experience there are good and maybe bad things that you take with you or maybe you might not share the same vision about certain things. With Gordon Ramsay, quality control was part of the restaurant. Products were checked when they came into the restaurant, everything was tasted before, everything was checked before service and like this you have less ‘shit at service’ because there were no nasty surprises.
From Sergio, I’ve learnt the drive, the attention to detail and striving for quality. I stayed at Oud Sluis three years and it was unbelievable how Sergio was developing new things and changing so fast.
How has this affected Pure C?
We have also changed the way we work at Pure C. It is no longer the Marco Pierre White approach which is what I learnt but we try to be much more human and respectful and try to create the feeling of De Librije. We have to realise that the old style is not suitable for our time.
What trends to do you see today which we will see more in future?
There is a lot of curiosity centred around what comes next. Before there was Spain at the top but now people are moving towards the Nordic, Peruvian and Mexican cuisine. Is this hype? It is difficult to know where it goes next. At the moment, fermentation is extremely popular. What is important is to see what is going on and be aware but not to follow or try to be on top of the trends. It is important to stick with yourself.
What do you think of awards? Are they important? They help put a chef or restaurant in the limelight and people now travel to a destination to visit a particular restaurant. What importance do you give to this? What does it mean to be in the top 50 of Opinionated about Dining?
It is nice. We are in Cadzand. Six years ago there was nothing here. If you said six years ago that there would be a restaurant with a Michelin star, everyone would have said you are crazy, it was impossible. I really like it. I want to show the world that we are doing something interesting here which is somewhat unique. The area is great. It is great to see good restaurants here. When you are in a list, more people are visiting the area.
What’s your view of people taking photos of food in restaurants.
Personally I don’t like to do it. Sometimes I do it when I am in a restaurant of a friend to help them out. But I do not have an opinion on this. My view is that you can take a photo to remember what you ate but don’t spend five minutes taking photos of a plate you are about to eat. I was at an event recently and there was someone who came with lights and all and was trying to take a perfect picture. I had already finished with my meal and he was still taking photos. We told him, come on it is getting cold. For me, if it does not go too far, it is fine. It is a trend that is going on and whether you love it or hate it, it is something that is beyond your control. I have learnt to not think about the things I cannot control. Otherwise it is a waste of energy and puts you in a bad mood.
Your view on bloggers? How have things changed in the restaurant scene?
The important thing for me is that we are busy and that our guests like Pure C and the experience they get when they visit. We do not do things because of journalists or bloggers. Of course you have no control over what bloggers or journalists say but I do not panic or start offering complementary things just because there is a journalist or blogger in the restaurant. That is politics and we have a business and we need to run this business.
You’ve created a liquor, a book. Do you have any new projects on the way?
Maybe a next book but there are no plans yet. The book worked very well also thanks to Sergio. With the liquor, we were testing something and guests liked it a lot so we decided to produce a few thousands bottles. Sometimes we have some ideas but it is not our aim to develop new products but rather to consider it as a hobby.
Chefs that inspire you?
Chefs that work with an open mind and do something totally different. They don’t care what other people think and follow their heart.
Your best meal ever?
It would be a birthday meal (Asian). It would be a nice table with lots of preparation centred around the family. It would be a meal that would have taken a whole week in the kitchen to prepare everything. There would be lots of flavour and lots of love in the food.
Something you don’t eat?
I eat everything.
Your favourite thing to eat?
Flat oysters from Zeeland
Do you cook at home?
Sometimes. Most of the time my girlfriend cooks.
Is there something in a professional kitchen which you think will make it to the home kitchen in future?
Here in this kitchen we have everything. But I’ve also learned that you can go back to nature and cook with just a fire or barbecue. You can still create something really tasty and good. You do not need to have machines but rather to just go back to the basics.
Favourite places to eat?