Jermain de Rozario

Jermain de Rozario is owner/chef of restaurant De Rosario and restaurant Mencoba in Helmond

Your life story is recorded in ‘Lotus, van vuilnisman tot sterrenchef’. Was there a moment that you thought: this is mu path?

‘The turning point came when after a lot of trial and error, i started working as a waiter. I have so much respect for that side of the hospitality industry, but i found out that i’m someone who wants to work with his hands. I like to create, make something out of nothing, and i’ve fallen for the magic of the kitchen. When i was 27 i eventually started working as a cook at a serious restaurant kitchen.’

Photography: Ad en Annelies Vereijken, Foto ID

From whom have you learned the most?

‘People often think that Soenil Bahadoer is the one (owner/chef at restaurant De Lindehof). That’s right when it comes to discipline, flavors and textures. But there are more facets to life. Like having a discussing… The you’re young, you quickly think you’re arguing. But a discussion is nothing more than listening to each other’s opinions and doing something with the conclusion you draw from it. Discussing creates a bond. Hierarchy is important in the kitchen and in the restaurant, but only when there’s a problem or complaint.’

Your Indonesian father was an artist. What did you get from him? Attention to detail?

‘His biggest lesson was: be positive in life. If you’re negative, the universe will automatically send you negative thoughts. Even as a positive thinking person, you cannot escape certain events, but you have to let go of things you have no control over. the you’ll come a long way. In terms of corona: it were two very intense years, but the lessons we’ve learned are priceless. Such as: remember that the other is different. And: it’s not about money, possessions or a Michelin star, but about doing good. That’s why we cook for the elderly, give lessons to young people and try to give them some life lessons. That fills the void, that’s what you do it for.’

Photography: Ad en Annelies Vereijken, Foto ID

Can we taste that spirituality in your cooking style?

‘When i cook, i start with the seven chakras and life lessons from octaves, colors and vibrations. One of the dishes on the menu, petjil, was created in a very special way. Someone i became friend with at De Lindehof, quit cooking, went to study Food & Design, ended up in Indonesia, fell in love there and got married. When he wanted to come back and become my sous chef, his wife turned out to be pregnant and they had to stay. They had a beautiful daughter, but disaster struck: their child died shortly after the birth. In The Netherlands his wife made petjil, which i had never eaten before. I wanted to make my version of this typical Indonesian dish: a salad with romaine lettuce, carrot cooked in lime leaf, kencur oil and longtong rice. And now comes the special part: i had a cone made of batik to let the lettuce leaf slid in. Like  bouquet of flowers. I chose a motif from all kinds of fabrics that appealed to me. Precisely that batik came from the place where their daughter passed away. For me, that dish is the embodiment of their departed daughter. No matter how often we prepare petjil, we make it with extra devotion. It’s a dish with a soul.’

You also pay tribute to vegetables…

‘For example we make a vegetarian version of rendang: a combination of mango ice cream with oxheart cabbage, gravy with coconut and lemongrass, pepper oil and coriander oil. A hot and cold dish with Indonesian flavors. I like banging flavors. Big flavors with lots of spices. But you also have to maintain the balance. You don’t want to be directly thrown into all directions as a guest. That’s what our tomato vadouvan is for. We have two versions: one for Restaurant Mencoba, where we serve dishes that were on the menu in the restaurant and that we can’t say goodbye to. In De Rozario we make a clear tomato broth. Very pure. We serve that with a compote of roasted tomato with bumbu that has been thickening all day on the barbecue. Plus ice cream of vadouvan.’

Photography: Ad en Annelies Vereijken, Foto ID

What’s your favorite fruit and vegetables?

‘Green peas, because you can do a lot with them. The ramson season has also started: you can wak me up for that. Ramson is extraordinary tasty. I also love the basics: celeriac had so many variations, such a wide spectrum of preparations and structures. I’m not a sweet tooth. I don’t have much with fruits in the kitchen, but i do like mandarin and pineapple.’

I see a dessert with popcorn…

‘When i get home, my wife and i often watch a movie or series. That’s our way of ‘going out’. This dish is based on that: ice cream of popcorn combined with something savory: a taco crisp with sour cream and mascarpone.’

Why do you choose Rungis?

‘We are working on a piece of land to become partly self-sufficient, but Rungis is staying. Because of the quality, the freshness of the products and the personal approach. I think the communication is very strong; they tell you when something isn’t available and provide you with an alternative. Everything is just right.’

 

Text: ellenscholtens.nl

Rungis is complete. We have a good relationship with their people, they keep us informed about the seasons, they really think along.

'Their colleagues come at the exact right time with an inspiration box. That’s how you immediately know: this is in season. And if i want something special, they start looking for it.'