Wim Severein is owner/chef of The Millèn in Rotterdam
Has the hotel market recovered this year?
‘The Marriot is running at full speed, although after the lockdowns we notice that we have a different type of guests. The business market is slowly getting back on track and for the big conferences it’s way too early. On the other hand, the number of leisure guests has increased considerably: a day out in Rotterdam is booming. Fortunately we also notice that in the restaurant.’
Guests can’t get enough of your ‘living painting’!
‘The Millennium Tower is the perfect place for a visit to Rotterdam. You can’t get more central than here. We have – literally – a window on the city. You can see both the sunset and the street scene on the Stationsplein. Yesterday a colleague who ate at us saw someone in a bear suit walk by. Guests are constantly taking pictures, but also the staff. There’s no kitchen that has such a view.’
Also your menu is metropolitan…
‘In summer we serve dishes with Mediterranean influences. Like our new vegetarian main course: roasted artichokes with salsa romesco, potato gnocchi and tomato from the Big Green Egg. I do the barbecuing at home: i make a kind of tomato compote with a strong roasted flavor and i use piment d’Espelettes, among other things. I do the same in the winter with celeriac and beetroot from the barbecue. I think vegetables should be prepared in different ways, whether it’s baking, steaming or deep-frying. Drying in particular works very well: then the taste is even more intense. You can even make salt out of it.’
What are you looking forward to this summer?
‘I’m looking forward to turnips and chanterelles. Stone fruit too, i love peaches and cherries and, at the end of summer, the deep red fruits. What worries me is the drought. Normally you’re able to create a buffer for the summer in the spring time, but now… We live in the countryside: it’s dramatic. It will be difficult for the potatoes, but also for the onions.’
Are you also a fan of fennel?
‘We serve a salad of lettuce and romain with a vinaigrette of reduced fennel juice. Added to this are the capers from the elderberry we preserved last year, hazelnut, grilled fennel and cream of fennel: all in different layers with watercress. You don’t see a simple salad on the menu of star restaurants. That is perhaps why this dish is often ordered, even by people who aren’t vegetarian.’
You’ve been ordering your vegetables from Rungis for years. What are they good at?
‘In offering a gigantic assortment. It’s like walking into a very large vegetable market where you can find absolutely everything. That’s the strength of Rungis.’
Special products too?
‘Wild asparagus, for example, although the season is now coming to an end, just like the strawberries. Rungis is also very good in the French market, in beautiful nectarines and those classic red wine peaches that taste like citrus, especially orange. Their Japanese range is pure quality. I still use these type of ingredients, especially different vinegars and pickled umeboshi plums with sakura leaf. They are great.’