The BF once did an internship at Culipro, one of Ramon Beuk’s businesses. So thats how I met Ramon. “De Glazen Ruimte” is right around the corner from our home, so I stopped by one day to see if he was there. Luckily he was there so I was able to ask him if I could interview him..we set a date and now you guys can read all about it here. Oh and there is a cool give away, so start reading now!
You just got back from Suriname, so tell me about the high lights of this trip?
This trip was quite a challenge. You arrive there and want to do something that people locally are not familiar with. You then try to explain to them what it is you want, but it takes quite some to get that message across. I wasn’t always happy when you think you arranged stuff, arrive at the location and nothing was done. No cooking material, no ingredients, nothing. A team of helpers who are not cooks and only 2 days of pre work. A big challenge, but in the end it all turned out fine and I think that the high light of a trip like this is that after serving dinner to 250 people, 7 courses, the people you cooked for reward you with a standing ovation and a big applause. Best compliment ever!
Where does your passion for food come from?
Pretty simple..I saw my mom cooking and making people happy. Mixing up ingredients, the kitchen full of flavors and my mom putting the pan on the table. Everybody happy. That was the reason why I wanted to become a chef. Not because I loved to cook so much, but to me it was pretty special to see the happy faces. Something that you created, you came up with can make people happy. One of the most special things if you ask me. Working in a restaurant is not really my thing, I want entertainment, make people happy, see how they react when they taste something. The dialog and asking them if they like what I cooked for them.
Did you always want to become a chef?
I thought I always wanted to cook food for people. I didn’t even know there was a profession like it. We never went out to have dinner at restaurants when I was younger. My mom cooked for a family of 7, so there was no financial room to go out to dinner. In Suriname at that time, we would go to the “Waterkant” sometimes to “eat Javanese outside” or buy a roti every now and then, but that was it. I always knew I wanted to do something with food. After cooking school, I studied Pedagogy, did a NIMA course and started working at the HEMA. Next was Unilever. During one of the product presentations I was giving, I got scouted by John de Mol. He was looking for a chef for “Koffietijd”, a tv program. Then came the Kids program with Cindy Pielstroom and after that Born to cook.
Who/what inspires you?
Everything….Think nice places, great restaurants. De Librije is a restaurant where I always get inspired: how they cook, the way that they work. No stress, very structured and great team work. I just did an internship for a week there. I wanted to work on the highest level possible and I never cooked on a 3 star level. Very exiting!
Most memorable kitchen moment?
Being confronted with Cultural differences. I remember that when I was 17 years old, it was my turn to cook for colleagues. I was supposed to cook a fillet of beef. In Suriname, we wash our meats with some lime or vinegar and some use salt even. So thats what I wanted to do. The chef asked me what I was going to do, so I explained. It was a no go. In Holland its not necessary to wash your meat, because of the slaughtering process. Meat here gets some time to un stress before it is cut and sold in the shops. In Suriname on the other hand meat is often sold the same day as its been slaughtered. The meat is too fresh and that creates a pretty strong smell. To get rid of that smell, you wash your meat first.
Ideal culinary trip? Where would you go to?
I am a fan of places where a lot is going on. Like South Africa, Australia..For example, in Cape Town, you’ll find a piece of Greece, Holland, America and its so cosmopolitan. You can have dinner at a simple restaurant, but also at 2 or 3 star establishments. Eat all different types of food. Same for Australia. To me its like Suriname, but then an even bigger melting pot. Both wines and food, its still moving..lots of culinary development going on. During a trip in Peru I discovered their kitchen and knew I had too little time there, need to go back. Lima currently has 4 restaurants in the top 50 best restaurants in the world.
You’ve published 8 cook books and 2 smaller books. Are you approached to making them?
Sometimes you get approached. So for my first cook books “Thais” and “Finger food” I got approached by Unieboek. I was flattered and who doesn’t want to have their own cook book. At the same time I was doing the tv show Born to cook, so we made another cook book. The goal of my cook books is helping people, enriching them, triggering them that there is more than just the classics.
Which cook book are you most proud of?
The two books that won prizes “Wat van Fair komt” and “Terug naar mijn Roti”. My favorite is “Wat van Fair komt”. I am very proud of it, how it all came together. I really had to fight for it, put al lot of my energy in it and it took us almost a year to publish it. It was my sixth cookbook and what a great reward to win a prize. I did not want to put my face on the cover. It was not about me, it was about the fair trade movement in those countries and the recipes created.
‘Elke dag een hap’, tell us a little bit about it?
I often hear people complaining, they don’t know what to cook, no inspiration, no time. There was no cookbook that helped you organize your kitchen to cook every day. Thats what I tried to explain in the book. I think it works pretty well. I wanted to get people to just go and do it, all those excuses are no longer relevant, because I did the thinking for you and there is no waste of products.
Favorite cook book?
I have a lot of cook books, but to me they are very periodically. Its linked to a certain period. Like “Wat van fair komt”, when I now look at it, it reminds me of a certain period. I still love the book, but its a closed chapter. I recently got “Puurst” from Jonnie and Therese de Boer. I love it when someone can explain “the why” and there are not a lot of cook books that do so. Why do you do what you do, why bring those combinations together. I want you to tell me why you came to exactly that combination. Its not easy to get answers but thats what they did in that book. Why does he work with a crab from this water and not from that water. What does it do with the flavor. I want to hear the person speak when I read the book.
Bucket list when it comes to cooking?
I don’t really have a bucket list. Nopes..10 years ago I would have given you the same answer as now. No dreams, but the only thing I wanted was to be happy and do things I like every day. I am at a point in my life where I can do what I want, gives me energy and I am happy doing what I do. I’ve done a lot of things, cool things, seen places, but I love most to do things with my daughter we like both. In the past, we did stuff she liked, but now its different. It can vary from squashing to having dinner at a restaurant. She was a picky eater when she was little, but these days a lot more open to try things. I love it to watch her try and taste stuff. I told her, when your at a point that you try everything, we are going out to dinner at a very chique restaurant.
What is the favorite dish you cook with your daughter?
My daughter is a big fan of Roti. So when we are in Suriname, she wants to eat Roti from Kris roti shop.
Who cooks food for you at home?
No one, I don’t really eat a lot at home these days.
When people cook for you, what is the dish your most exited about?
I am a sucker for nostalgia and then I have to say, my mom’s “Pom”.
What 3 ingredients would we always find in your kitchen?
The basics, like eggs, onions, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. I always have meat in my freezer, to cook up something. And a pack of milk so I can make people visiting a coffee. But what you will always find in my freezer, are Rotis (the pancakes then). I always need to be able to make it. Especially for my daughter who loves it.
What is the most special thing you’ve ever eaten?
A snail, it was still alive and then when you put it in your mouth there was an explosion of flavors. Pretty bizar, but what a flavor burst.
Do you remember the first thing “Dutch” you ate when you were little?
Yes, of course I remember. It was “canned French beans”; they had no flavor at all, just overcooked and bland. and when I was about 16 or 17 years old, I went on holiday to Spain with a friend and we ordered a sate for dinner (yes at a Dutch place in Spain). There were some beans accompanying the dish and the moment I tasted it , it brought me back to that moment when I was little. This was that flavor I remembered..and it was still not my thing.
Can you tell us a culinary project your working on?
I just did a 10 week series in “de Volkskrant Magazine” on “Lessen in Lekkers” (Lessons in Good Food) on cooking renewed Surinamese cooking..I started with “Lets not call it a Roti”. I also cooked “Teloh bakkeljauw”, but then renewed so I served a slow cooked cod with cassava incorporated in 3 different ways: a juice of cassava, a puree and a fried version. I wanted Surinamese classics to become restaurant worthy and I gave all of them have a little twist. Think Pepre Watra, Bojo and a lot more. Starting the 1st of August, I will be doing “Restaurant VOOREENMAAND” again and the theme this year will be Surinamese. Come and join the fun this month!
What would you rather buy than cooking yourself?
If I have to say..then it would probably be Chinese. However, I do not eat a lot of Chinese food, its been years and I am not a fan of (vetsin). I do love the Chinese chef that cooks pure food, but they are not easy to find.
In the Netherlands: de Librije, my number 1. Podium onder de Dom, Beluga and I also like Eetcafe te Koop in Utrecht. Last but not least Tropisch huis Prim for their delicious roti.
When I am in Suriname, I love to eat at “de Gadri“, I eat there at least 2 or 3 times for lunch and dinner. Simple, but I love it. There is a great view over the Surinam River, nice. The new “Soup oso” is another favorite, I must have their Peanut soup. The best!
Is there something we don;t know about you that your also passionate about?
I love to fish!
Give Away – Elke dag een hap part 1
As mentioned above, Ramon Beuk helps you to cook good food every day. Once a week you do the groceries and get to eat good food every day. No waste. Tips to store your food and plan/organize and easy doable recipes. Comment below why you want to win this book and on August 31st I will draw not one, but 3 winners!
Using the true random generator, the winners are : Ankie,Wilma and Tessa. I will contact you guys so I can send you your price!
Read more interviews here
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