Creativity, innovation and the importance of the terroir where the chefs work was the main focus of the presentations that took place on the second day of Chefs Revolution that took place on Monday in Zwolle.
The Dutch avant-garde festival organised by Jonnie and Therese Boer of the restaurant and hotel De Librije in Zwolle and Port Culinaire (who will also be organising Chef Sache in Cologne this weekend), this year brought together a very interesting international lineup of chefs.
While the focus on the first day was the importance that vegetables are playing in today’s high end kitchens, the second day brought an array of chefs who are really focusing on their terroir to create something unique and special.
The first to take the stage was the Russian chef Vladimir Mukhin of Moscow based restaurant White Rabbit. The Russian chef gave a very interesting presentation of what is happening in Russia at the moment and his bid to rediscover the flavours that Russia had lost because of the Soviet era. His style is intriguing. He is constantly travelling to try and rediscover the old flavours of his country and says that when in Russia, ‘customers should be trying porridge and not pasta because for the latter you should go to Italy.” His philosophy is very clear. He believes that you should take inspiration from your own land while at the same time using techniques to modernise the cuisine. But the focus should always be local.
The second chef to take the stage on Monday was Rasmus Kofoed, the three Michelin star chef of Restaurant Geranium in Denmark. Kofoed draws his inspiration from his surroundings and childhood memories. His cuisine is very much focused on vegetables and he attributes the reason to this to his vegetarian mother though he also believes we should be eating less meat. His inventiveness comes from examining his surroundings and trying to see what is not obvious. “You can find inspiration by looking at the texture, colours of what comes from nature. You can draw inspiration from the layers of a leek or the skeleton of a cabbage.”
German three Michelin star chef Joachim Wissler of Restaurant Vendome spoke of the importance of childhood memories in his creations. The epitome of this was the dessert which shows the creative streak of this chef as well as the ability to bring a smile to his guests. He serves a bucket of popcorn. Guests are not sure what is happening and 20 seconds later the popcorn makes way for a dessert which includes the taste of a cinema outing, i.e. semolina pudding, coca cola and a pop corn ice-cream. “After 11 or 12 courses you need something funny which puts a smile on people’s faces,” he said.
Tanja Grandits was the only female chef to take the stage at Chefs Revolution. She is the two Michelin star chef of restaurant Stucki. She has a very unique style in that she likes to work in monchrome, i.e. most of her dishes are focused on just one colour. While some might consider this as a constraint, she believes that it gives her much more liberty to be daring. A chemist by training she fell in love with cooking and describes it as the best profession you can be in because you can use your emotions and creativity to create special moments. Her team is composed of people who have been with her for many years. She stresses on the importance of team work and adds that while many in the industry complain that they do not find women to work in the kitchen her team is composed of 50 per cent women.
The final speaker of this year’s edition of Chefs Revolution was Virgilio Martinez chef of Restaurant Lima in Peru. Martinez spoke about the importance of drawing inspiration from the ecosystem and the landscape of your own country and added that his style of cuisine was possible everywhere. He uses 100 per cent local ingredients and also tries to make the plates where he serves his creations in the restaurant. He is constantly traveling around Peru trying to draw inspiration from the richness the country has to offer and believes that the exploration is never ending. The event also included a farmer’s market as well as the HillyBilly contest among others.
Jonnie and Therese Boer said they looked forward to organise the fourth edition of the event in two years time saying that the ‘organisation gets easier each time”.