Conscious Gastronomy – a trip for the discerning guest
Interview with Chef Joram Timmerman of Op Oost | boutique hotel & restaurant het Kook Atelier in Texel
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us about your current role and location in the world?
Yes! My name is Joram Timmerman born in Texel, 43 years old and I am co-owner and executive chef of restaurant het Kook Atelier. Our restaurant is part of op Oost; a conscious gastrononical destination on the Wad on the wonderful island of Texel, in the Netherlands. op Oost consists of restaurant the Kook Atelier and twelve spacious suites, surrounded by an edible garden and only a stone's throw from the Wadden Sea, herb meadows and local farms.
What type of cuisine does the Kook Atelier create? Can you give an example of your favourite dish and how guests react to it?
We serve one menu in our restaurant called: Served by nature. It is a fifteen taste moments menu in which nature has the highest and the last word. In our Nordic & botanical cuisine, nature, growing, foraging and preserving are central. Where we make extensive use of game picking, various fermentation techniques and we proudly serve the salty herbs and vegetables grown by our farmer, as well as the meat and dairy from on East.
Our fish, shellfish and shellfish can be found in our 'backyard', the Texel Mudflats and the sea around us. As much as possible up close, with every now and then a conscious and responsible trip to further away areas.
One of our signature dishes is a dish with the Texel Wadden Oyster and salty herbs, or our nut pâté that offers a conscious alternative to foie gras for those who like the specific taste.
Op Oost has a unique location, one which cultivates exceptional guest experiences. What are some of the opportunities you have created for guests to connect with this part of the world?
We would like to create a nice place on Oost where peace, enjoyment and the connection with yourself and nature are central. In everything we do, we stay close to our own nature. And we always ask ourselves whether something can be done differently, better, closer or more consciously. In our hotel, in our restaurant the Kook Atelier and at our events.It is therefore also important for us to take our guests along in our thoughts and our green heart. And of course you can also enjoy it. Think of a salty adventure with our oyster man; collect oysters, taste them and in the meantime you will learn everything about the season, what grows and how you can collect your own salty herbs or oysters with respect. In addition, we offer a lot of information about foraging wild herbs and edible flowers, we put our suppliers and farmers in the spotlight by creating moments to visit them.
Guests can also book workshops during their stay next season that are linked to conscious gastronomy. Like; how can I make my own kombucha?
It’s not just the guests whom you have created experiences for at Op Oost, you look internally for growth opportunities within your team. What are some examples of how staff have been afforded greater purpose than their job title?
We would like to offer a nice workplace for young talent. In this industry, long hours are often worked and the bar is high. We try to create a balance for our team between work and private life, but also between ambition and talent. And that is the starting point for their function. Not a tightly framed list of tasks, but a job that makes you happy. So you can be a sous chef with us and in the meantime go foraging and take the photos of the dishes. Or receptionist with green fingers
What suggestions would you have for sourcing locally year-round? Are there any challenges to sourcing more locally that you’ve managed to overcome?
The goal of using purely local products is almost impossible to achieve. And by local I mean solely from the island. North Holland, or Dutch or just the Wadden Islands ... that would be more realistic. But either way, it's a big challenge. There are moments of abundance, but also many moments of scarcity. Continuous quality, availability and transport are also a challenge.
We therefore ferment a lot of vegetables when they are available. We work closely with the local farmers to create the best possible sowing and harvesting plan. In addition, we buy from local home gardeners and we use wild herbs that go with the seasons. And can be found even in winter. One of our team members drives past all local suppliers twice a week to tackle the problem of transport. This way you make yourself more redemptive, more creative and you work every day with respect for nature, with nature.
Can you give some advice on the best ways to communicate to customers your conscious efforts and conservation?
We are always very open in what we stand for and what we do. we tell that at the table, at check-in, but especially online and in publications such as this. And that attracts the guests who embrace our philosophy. They want to know what they eat, what their bed in the hotel is made of and which brands we work with. When you really stand for something, you don't just fall for everything. And in a world where everything seems to be for sale, honesty, openness and authenticity are priceless. Our guests give us their most precious possession; their time. It is up to us to fill it in as beautifully as possible.
Finally – Op Oost is under construction for its new permanent restaurant. What can we expect from this destination restaurant and is there anything you will be sourcing at the Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam this March?
After a period of lockdowns and waiting, the time has finally come; we can dream and create again. The hotel is currently open on weekends and during holidays. But not our restaurant. This has now been opened in adapted form as an exclusive pop up in the center of den Burg. Thanks to our trade fair visit last year: a new reservation system for our hotel (MEWS) and restaurant (Formitable). At the moment, the preparations for the new menu are already being made. A new handmade tableware of colors and ingredients from the Texel nature, a completely new interior with authentic farm elements and fresh noric design. Our test team is now busy creating new flavors. In short; we can't wait to welcome you back this summer to our completely renewed conscious gastronomy escape on texel.