INTERVIEW Aron Friedman Picture Prosumer Sven Marquardt
Trouw Cooking No Bullshit, Just Great Food Chef Henk-Jan van Valkenburg and sous-chef Olav van Ark don’t believe in conceptual cooking. Nothing beats a good piece of meat, some fries and veggies, as long as the ingredients are selected with great care and the dishes are prepared properly.
Can you tell us something about yourselves? HJ: ‘I’ve been a chef for many restaurants. I also used to have my own restaurant called Summum. Before Trouw I was working as a freelance chef, but when the former chef Jaymz left, he asked me to take over. I’ve been working here for a couple of months now.’ O: ‘Before Trouw, I was working at a place called Goudfazant in the North of Amsterdam. After three and a half years I was looking for a something new, and that’s how I became the sous-chef here.’ Who’s in the kitchen doing what? HJ: ‘We’re with the three of us. Me, Olav and Dimitri. When I’m not there, Olav is in charge. Me and Olav do most of the work during the day, and Dimitri is the new face of the restaurant during the night.’ What’s the main idea behind the restaurant? HJ: ‘Before, Jaymz Pool was doing a lot of street food here. I’ve done that before in other places, but now I’ve decided to keep things small and simple. We use the grill a lot. We focus mainly on the quality of the products, without making it too pricey. We’re trying to have as many biological products as possible.’
What are the pros and cons of a place like Trouw? HJ: ‘The good thing is; there’s a lot of people hanging out, which is of course nice with a place so far away from the centre. But those who come for the club aren’t exactly the ones to spend a lot of money on food. When you’re in your early twenties, you generally spend more money on booze and partying. But I think we’re well on our way to becoming a known restaurant around town.’ How do you offer uniqueness in a town that already has so many restaurants? HJ: ‘I think what’s most unique about Trouw is the location. You can’t keep on reinventing the wheel. And you don’t need oysters and caviar. You just need to offer quality: a good organic steak is a lot tastier than the beat up thing the butcher on the corner serves. If you go to a place where the interior is as expensive as the neighbor’s new car, they’ll charge you for it. You end up paying shitloads for food that isn’t bad, but isn’t great either. I’d rather go out every once in a while eating something great, than going out every week and eating a load of crap in shiny place.’ O: ‘Honest and affordable food doesn’t need the most expensive ingredients. A good piece of meat, some fries and some nice veggies can also do the trick.’