Jonathan Zandbergen – Hotel Merlet Restaurant, * Michelin star

Im Jonathan Zandbergen, Executive chef of Restaurant Hotel Merlet in Schoorl. The Netherlands. I am 31 years old. We have got one Michelinstar and I am this years most talented chef by Gault&Millau 2017. Since the age of 14 i was working in restaurants and since the age of 23 i became a chef. I have done cooking school level 2,3 and specialisation level 4 and after that i did the Cees Helder Academie, gastronomic entrepreneur. I have got a family with three children. I like music and art, and i like people who do what they like doing the most. i really admire  and respect people who do things with passion. Positivity is what brings succes. and hard work of course 😉

Can you tell me about your day at work?
At 10.00 I drive to Schoorl, to Merlet or when I have an appointment I try to plan this in the morning before I go to the restaurant.  When we are open for lunch (not everyday) lunch service starts at 12.00 before that time we arrange all supplies and fresh fish, vegetables and meat. During the lunchservice  a part of our staaf is making mise en place, the goes on with it when they have time. We eat at 16.30 and go back in the kitchen for dinner service. Sometimes I have some meetings after lunchservice. Then dinner service starts at 18.00, the guests arrive and we (9 cooks) are divided over 6 parti’s. Aperitief amuse bouche, amuse bouche, starters, antre metier, roti and desserts. We finish around 23.00 and 23.30 I drive back home again.

What was the first dish that you’ve done as a chef?
That’shard to remember, its already 8 years ago but one of my first dishes was noth sea crab with beetroot and vadouvan.

Who is the model for you to follow?
The first book I read was escoffier, afeter that I was really insired by Allain Ducasse, The grand livre de cuisine was my bible. This style of french coocking is the fundament of my cooking.

Do you have your dream place where would you like to work? 
Right now, thats Merlet.

Do you cook at home?
I always cook at home for my family, most of the time it are easy dishes, typical dutch food also.

What would you prepared for me in 10 minutes … i mean some food 😉 ?
A roasted langoustine with butternut squash, vadouvan, ponzusauce and smoked beure blanc.

What would like to have as last meal in life?
Ther’s a dish on our recent menu with roasted turbot with sweet and sour echalot creme, melting foiegras, wintertruffle and gravy of burnt onion and spices. When you take a bite of it, it hits you and make you quiet for a moment. I would like to have that. Made by someone with love.

What flavours you are most faithful?
I really like earthy flavors combined with some kind of acidity.

What do you think about current trends in gastronomy?
I think there is a lot of positive things going on in the culinary world,  I really admire what my colleage chefs are doing. I know what it takes and realy respect the effort they give every day to make top quality food for there quests. I am glad the world is seeing that and starting to respect chefs. Food has never been so hot as on this moment. That a good thing.

What was the most important moment in Your professional chefs life?
Maintaining our michelinstar this year for the second time.  I am very proud of my team and all the effort they put in to every day to create a wonderfull experience for our guests.

Do you want to make your children have gone in your footsteps / chefsteps?
They can do what makes them happy, I will support them with all my love.

Private lives there ? How it looks like?
The balance in private and professional is life is there yet, I’m stil searching, being a Michelin start chef takes a lot…

What was the funniest situation at the kitchen, is it some fun there?
The funniest thing, well… one time in the middle of a very busy service I was walking to the pastry section in one a my former restaurants to get some flour fro dusting sweetbreads to fry. When I walked back to my parti I sliped over a plastic. I fell down on the flour and throw the plate with flour all over me. It was really f*ck up, but I had to laugh, this moment is probably one the the funniest. The flour was in my eyebrows and all.

What advice do you have for young cooks?
When you have a goal, work hard and never give up. Always keep on going.

In which country is, in Your opinion, the most beautiful/interestig kitchen?
Well I have to say thats in my restaurant, we serve the food I like the most. Its based on french cuisine with local Dutch products and flavors from the world.

Photos on your instagram, are so beautiful. Are you doing it? is it a long preparation?
Every menu I have a photographer is coming by. Next to that I make my photos with an iPhone. Some are really good. All the food I make is how I serve it in the restaurant, so thats exactly the same and it takes not so much time to make to plates. Like in a real service you also dont have a lot of time. But of course I pay more attention to detail. But really, my pictures are the for that I am serving.

Thank you.

Photo: Jonathan Zandbergen

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