interview with jonnie boer
At the age of twenty-four Jonnie Boer took on the position of
chef at the Restaurant De Librije. A few years later Jonnie
and his wife Thérèse bought the restaurant and
soon after they received their first Michelin star. Four years
ago the restaurant received its second star making Jonnie at
33 the youngest two star Michelin chef in Holland.
Jonnie's style can be described as eclectic, daring and fearless.
He has received notoriety not just for his great cooking but
also for his commitment to using local commodities along side
the more traditional goose liver and truffles one expects from
high ranking dining establishments.
Tell us about your restaurant.
The restaurant itself has 35 seats, then we have a chef's table
which is in the kitchen of the restaurant. Three years ago I
was able to buy the whole building, so the first floor is the
main restaurant, the second is a private dining room for up
to 35 covers and in the kitchen we left half in its original
state which was the restaurant and this gives room for another
15 covers. We are open from Tuesday through Saturday, with lunch
service on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
How much does dinner for two cost?
If you order five courses, Thérèse will make a
wine arrangement including champagne to start off and coffee
to close. You can expect to pay approximately 230 Euros ($200
or £140). We give our guests several small courses to
start. When you eat with us you can expect to receive a little
snail with sourkraut then an apéritif followed by a lollipop
of duckliver, then we start to serve the menu.
How big is your wine list?
We have about 600 wines on our list. They vary from very well
priced to very expensive. Thérèse likes to have
a big range of wines because she feels that a rather cheap wine
can sometimes be better than more expensive one.
What inspires you?
I was born in Giethoorn which they call "Little Italy".
This is because of all the canals. The area is surrounded by
nature. When I was a child I used to hunt and fish in that area.
I like to work with regional products that are pretty much unknown.
We have good local products, so I don't get them from France
but from my region and that's why we are popular in Holland.
Nature and everything that grows and lives in the surrounding
area of Zwolle is my source of inspiration.
Describe the food of your restaurant.
Our food is simple, honest, pure in flavor and no nonsense...
I see from your book that you use some unusual ingredients
such as perch, eel and gurnard. How popular are these types
of dishes with your customers compared to more commonly eaten
foods? Do you charge a lower price for the unusual items?
The perch is the dish that has given me fame. It was born because
we didn't have a lot of money to buy exclusive products. Now
a lot of guests come and visit us for that type of dish, but
we do use exclusive products as well but everybody likes to
taste dishes with products from this region. We don't charge
a lower price because our local lamb is almost as expensive
as from France. The best thing about that is I can select it
myself and give my guest more information - because I know everything
about the lamb.
What was the most unusual item on your menu last year and
what was the reaction from your guests?
Dover sole prepared in smoked butter with sweet and sour leeks
stuffed with an oyster and a sauce of lemongrass. This is a
dish that we are going to keep, everybody went crazy with the
Describe your cookbook - Puurder (more pure)...
Puurder is my follow up from Pure my first book, which was printed
only in Dutch. The reason why I made Puurder (which is available
in both Dutch and English) is because we have progressed - with
our guests, our suppliers, our food - it's more pure now. The
name reflects our steps forward. The next one will be called
Whose idea was it to insert the wine booklet into the front
It was both of us (Jonnie and Thérèse). It's nice
to have a book all about food but wine gives balance and can
really give a dish that extra character. Wine can also destroy
the concept of a dish. In the book you will find some simple
wine ideas and how to handle it. It's written by my wife and
is very easy to read, nothing difficult.
How well suited is the Dutch climate to the production of
wine. What wine would Thérèse suggest compliments
We do have a chateau in Holland, it's called the APOSTELHOEVE
but that's really the only one. The reason we do not produce
much wine is because in Holland we have too much rain, winters
are cold and the summers do not offer enough sunlight. But 2000
was a good year for Dutch wines. Thérèse feels
the wines which best compliment my style are red Spanish wines
as they are full bodied and creamy and white Bourgognes with
a bit of wood but not too much.
What are your plans for 2002?
Go even harder, better flavors, more guests. More development
for the restaurant business in Holland. We still have the reputation
of a country without good food and restaurants. I think that's
rubbish. I have been in France a lot, you don't want to know
what I get there sometimes.
Can you offer a word of advice for the chef of tomorrow?
If you visit Europe come and visit Holland as well, try
our kitchens. There is a lot going on here. Second - don' t
think too difficult, use pure and good ingredients and give
your cooking your own style.