Discover Benelux, Issue 34, October2016

Page 27

Discover Benelux | Rotterdam | Close to the City Centre Highlights


What are you supposed to do when you have been detained and are expected by society to take care of yourself when you are out of jail? Klaasjan Krook and his partner Karin Nijman help women aged between 25 and 35 who cannot get a job. They set up a restaurant called Rebelz aan de Rotte because it is by the Rotte (“one of the most beautiful places in Rotterdam”) to give these ladies a second chance at rebuilding their life. “The first thing these girls want when they get back to society is to get their life on track again,” says Krook. “We developed a programme with the Horeca Academie, a school for hotel and catering businesses, to train these ladies.” In the restaurant, these ladies can put their knowledge directly to use. It is a win-win situation; the women get an education and a job while the restaurant has new staff every now and then.

It took about a year from start to finish, but Krook and his partner had a lot of luck. “We came in contact with a Syrian chef, who has his own restaurant. He wanted to help us with supplies. His ideas about food inspired us. We found out he’s a star chef, and he wanted to help us out because he believes in second chances like no other.” Although the social element of the restaurant is very important, the quality of the food and the dining experience is the main attraction at Rebelz aan de Rotte.

Dominican warmth in Rotterdam TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK | PHOTOS: LA BANDERA

The scent of worldly herbs waft towards you when stepping into La Bandera, while the warmth of the atmosphere overflows you. You could almost forget that you are not on an idyllic island in the Caribbean: you are in Rotterdam. La Bandera offers authentic Dominican cuisine, combined with a tangible love for food and a portion of unmatched gastronomy. “Because of the country’s history of slavery and colonisation, the Dominican kitchen is a vibrant mix of cultures: a blend of African, Spanish, Portuguese and indigenous (Taínos)

influences,” owner Irving Eleonora explains. “It is a unique yet somehow recognisable cuisine.” La Bandera literally translates to ‘the flag’ and is the country’s national dish. The ingredients – meat, bean stew and rice – represent the colours of the national flag. It is an absolute classic on the menu, together with ‘moro’, a mixture of rice, beans and vegetables, usually served with stewed meat and a fresh salad. Eleonora’s dish of choice? “Moro con chivo [stewed goat’s meat] – delicious!” Eleonora’s love for cooking started at a young age, with a grandmother and mother

who were always busy in the kitchen. In 2013 he opened La Bandera, which in a short time conquered the hearts of many. “The Dutch are open to Dominican cuisine – they feel at home with the warmth and vivacious spirit that lives here. It is like entering a big Dominican living room, with music and atmosphere,” Eleonora enthuses. “Dominicans are very proud of their culture and cuisine. They want to share it. That is exactly what La Bandera does. We put Dominican cuisine on the culinary map.”

Issue 34 | October 2016 | 27

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