Jamie van Heije
Jamie van Heije is chef/owner of restaurant Jamie van Heije, signature chef at Moon in the A’DAM tower an co-owner of The Avocado Show and now also Bumbu Kitchen in the NH Doelen hotel.
Your Indonesian grandmother must have left her mark on your culinary direction!
‘Unknowingly yes. When i was little, i did not realize het Indian kitchen would become so important to me. Unfortunately she never got the opportunity to ate in my restaurants. When she was still alive, i did show her pictures of my dishes: she didn’t understand it at all. The gado gado as i make it, she couldn’t believe it.
Which dishes are etched in your memory?
‘What i’ve mostly taken with me from that time are the traditions. Deng deng blado, dried beef with sambal, we only ate that when we went on holiday by car. On a slice of bread. My father is also a great cook: some dishes i’ve learned from him. Also vegetarian dishes, like sambal goreng tempeh and sajoer lodeh. I rarely cook traditional dishes myself, The big difference is: i know the flavors, but i aspire a different kind of kitchen. Which i’m working on day in day out.’
Are you able to unleash your taste memories in Bumbu Kitchen?
‘Yes, but also in my restaurant at Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. As a cook i’m most active there. I’m there during every dinner, six days a week. I attend to keep cooking. I make the marinade for the babi pangang myself, just like the bumbu’s. It’s difficult to explain. It’s not that there’s any big secret behind the recipe, but it’s the feeling i have with it.’
How do you divide yourself between all those restaurants – and you can also be seen in RTL4’s Superstar Chef?
‘By planning and especially planning further ahead. Coaching in advance, so that people know what we expect from them is like the most important thing. Training on the experience, how we like it in our restaurants. If you can accomplish that, all you have to do is correct sometimes.’
How important are fruit and vegetables?
‘My favorite color is green, so that says enough. This is the perfect season, because everything is green. The herbs, the flowers, watercress peas… For a long time i thought being entremetier was the best side of the kitchen. Because there’s a lot you can do with it. The use of fruit and vegetables is typical for my kitchen; you can taste the seasons. Definitely summer proof are our tartelettes with cumin, filled with puffed eggplant, humus, lemon, pink pepper, pomegranate seeds and pine nuts. And with fruit: i’m not really a sweet tooth, but i love strawberries and tropical fruits like pineapple and mango. With that we make a Mango Sour, with scallops and butternut squash pickled in a ginger sweet and sour. An amazing dessert in Ouderkerk is preserved blueberries with raspberries, oil of lemon balm, ice cream of yoghurt with raspberry vinegar and two types of sorrel. But what i use the most, is lime. It gives so much flavor to a dish.’
You use a lot of different herbs and spices. Which ones?
‘I use everything. I find out more and more that i have no favorites. That depends. I’m always looking for new flavors. That can be through a memory, but also through nature, a good party or music. I am easily inspired. For eating abroad i’m too busy working, but every now and then i make flash visits. A couple of days to Hong Kong, Japan or Cape Town. Only when you plan everything just right, it’s possible. I do not necessarily go to the top restaurants, but to places where you can taste the culture and traditions of that country, the local cuisine. I think it’s just as much fun to eat tacos that are prepared in the open air, on an open fire with a stolen traffic sign above it.’
‘I don’t want to waste a lot of time on finding the best quality products every day. With Rungis it’s also nice we can plan ahead, and: a deal is a deal. That’s also Rungis. This allows my people to concentrate on the things they are good at.’
Text: Ellen Scholtens