Do you know what I’m really afraid of? For real. I know people to which the exact thing happened, by falling on their head. The possibility of losing my smell and taste. All of my inspiration comes from smells and tastes. Nothing more beautiful than a journey and discovering something new. That is a dream come true for me. Truly, all of the ingredients are interesting and unique in every way.

When I was young, a bag of fish used to be delivered once a week. We lived at the coast, in Zeeland, and a fisherman then brought his bycatch. I thought it was marvelous. And exciting. My mother often didn’t know what to do with it. A common sole of course is very recognizable, but a complete Gurnard? Red mullet? I remember the first day we ever got a living lobster as if it was yesterday. We were scared. We asked around in the neighborhood what we should do with it. The lobster didn’t fit into the pan, but eventually we managed to cook it. Besides, if I look back now, he was way overcooked.

Due to my Zeeland background I adore vegetables, herbs and everything that comes out of the sea. You grow up surrounded by farmers, one has tasty turnip, the other has good spinach. My dad also had a piece of land. Sometimes he harvested and just like that we’d eat string beans for a few weeks. You get to know the seasons like this. Basics for a chef. Some don’t have any idea of this anymore, I notice. In my kitchen I like to use powerful flavors, but fresh and light on the plate. People need to have a nice feeling when they leave the table. Not completely stuffed. Instead of cream and butter I try to get those creamy and powerful flavors out of mint, pistou, avocado, celery or for example a small pepper.

Sometimes I think: ‘I have so much to learn’. Then I’m with a chef in China and see how he put something through the batter. When we would bread and fry something next, he would steam it. Then I’m really at a loss of words. After the steaming he lets it cool and then he fries it! Super crunchy. See, this is the most fascinating about this craft: there are so many different flavors, preparations and cultures that it really never stops. You have to be a little crazy to constantly chase it though. Day after day I’m occupied doing this.

If I discover a new flavor or preparation on one of my journeys – even if it’s still in the Netherlands – I immediately start working on it. Sometimes within a week, sometimes within a few months there will be a brand new dish. I actually don’t gather most of my inspiration in cities, I feel most inspired when I visit farmers in the countryside. In New Zealand, for example, we passed by the Abalone-farms (sea-snails). Then you walk through these kind of oyster wells completely filled with abalone, that is incredible. There are restaurants where you then can eat the abalone. Pure simplicity, it was all about the abalone. A bit stir frying, a little bit of garlic. That makes you think. I used that ingredient two years ago in a dish. For example in a combination of blood sausage and Jerusalem artichoke.