Vegetables took the centre stage on the first day of the third edition of Chefs Revolution, an event organised by Therese and Jonnie Boer of De Librije Restaurant in the Netherlands and the team at Port Culinaire in Zwolle.
Jonnie Boer, Magnus Ek, Eneko Atxa and Mauro Colagreco delivered splendid presentations on their approach to cooking at the Spiegel Theatre in this beautiful Dutch city.
On a sunny day, over 1,500 turned up to Chef’s Revolution to listen to what these chefs had to say about the state of gastronomy today and also see them present their cuisine during live cooking presentations.
Jonnie Boer, Magnus Ek and Mauro Colagreco put the spotlight on vegetables and they all seemed to be in agreement that in future people will have to eat less protein if we are to ensure a sustainable future. On that same theme was Eneko Atxa’s presentation who spoke about the philosophy behind Azurmendi and the holistic approach of the restaurant to sustainability.
Jonnie Boer, chef of three Michelin star restaurant De Librije, says he does not have a sweet tooth but presented an amazing dessert prepared for the event which he will serve at his restaurant. It was the recreation of a water lily which is inspired by the environment close to the restaurant and where he grew up. He still goes foraging for ingredients. He also presented one of his iconic dishes of oyster and tulip. Tulips were used during the war time as a food staple but are not often presented in restaurants given they are not easy to make edible.
Magnus Ek, who was the pioneer of the Nordic Cuisine has been foraging for 20 years. He now grows his own vegetables in the garden and is constantly presenting at least one vegetarian dish in his menu. He says that more often than not clients say that the vegetarian dish is the preferred one of the menu. “Our farm is at the heart of what goes on the menu. We also experiment on the farm and that in turn gets to be served to our restaurant,” said the chef of Oaxen Krug in Stockholm, Sweden.
Eneko Atxa, chef of Azurmeni in Spain spoke about the importance of sustainability in his cuisine. He said that at the restaurant they tried to make small changes on a daily basis. “You may want to change the world but it is impossible to make an impact. But 365 small changes on a yearly basis end up having a big impact,” he says. “While we have a garden where we show the produce to our guests, we prefer to buy vegetables from suppliers close to us because that way we can create an ecosystem. But we have a lab with seeds which we share with our suppliers and also our guests,” he said.
Mauro Colagreco, chef of Mirazur in Menton, is celebrating the 10th anniversary since the opening of his restaurant. He presented three great vegetable inspired dishes with produce that grows in his garden. The garden supplies him with 50 per cent of the vegetables for his restaurant. “We try not to process our produce too much. Unfortunately we do not have space to cultivate all the vegetables we would need and it would be too costly to have land. But the taste of salty taste of the vegetables coming from the garden is incredible.”
He says eating meat has a huge impact on the environment and said we needed to eat less proteins in future. “Meat consumption has increased fivefold in the past years and we cannot go on like this”, he said.
Therese Boer at the start of Chefs Revolution spoke about the importance of hospitality in the restaurant world. During a panel discussion, she said that the culinary scene is changing considerably. “There is a move towards more casual dining. I remember one day going with Jonnie to a fine dining restaurant and being asked to leave because my husband was not wearing a jacket. Ultimately, going to a restaurant is about enjoying the moment and guests need to be comfortable,” she said.
Speaking about journalists and the food scene, Therese said that critics no longer bothered her. “But in the past, it used to hurt. I still remember a review way back in 1993 when we had just purchased the restaurant. When I read the review, I was awake all night crying,” she said. “Criticism is good if it is positive. The problem is that for artists, even book authors for example, they cannot reply to a comment in a newspaper,” she said.
In addition to the international cooking demonstrations from the above chef, there was also a farmers market which was organised by Jonnie and Therese and which showcases the rich variety of Dutch products and ingredients that are used in De Librije.
The event continues on Monday, 19 September with presentations by Vladimir Mukhin, Rasmus Kofoed, Joachim Wissler, Tanja Grandits and Virgilio Martinez on the main stage.
A day of Chefs Revolution in pictures