Two star Michelin Master Chef Pascal Jalhay presented his new book Baru Belanda (New Dutch) during an exclusive release party at Hotel Jakarta in Amsterdam, on March 18th. This tribute to Dutch Indies cuisine already received great reviews. Together with 14 talented chefs, Pascal aims to inspire young chefs to revalue dishes and tastes, modernize and elevate the Indonesian cuisine in Holland to a higher level. At the same time he hopes this initiative will help to preserve our culinary heritage. I was honored to be invited as one of the 14 chefs who got to make a contribution. Unfortunately, I was not able to be in Amsterdam for the party. Luckily, some friends who were present shared some pictures.
The presentation of Dutch Indies dishes is important to Jalhay. With his book he intends to bridge the past with the present. Authentic tastes in new packaging. “We tried to keep the method of preparation as traditional as possible, but I wanted to give it a more refined, attractive appearance.” Or as he often says: “make this cuisine more sexy!” The culinary creations were photographed by Harold Pereira.
Dutch Indies and Indonesian are terms that are often used interchangeably when speaking about the cuisine. To clarify: Dutch Indies kitchen is basically a snapshot of the kitchen of the times Indonesia was known as the Dutch East Indies – a culinary reflection of the hybrid Indo-European community in South East Asia. It features a combination of indigenous regional and fusion cooking of typical Indonesian ingredients and preparation methods with Dutch influences. This cuisine was created by the many Dutch people of mixed heritage, also known as Indos, who were born in the former Dutch East. Many of them emigrated to the Netherlands after the independence of Indonesia in 1949. They took all their tastes and recipes with them, but had to sometimes adapt them to what ingredients were available in the Netherlands at the time. The cuisine is known for bringing us the Rijsttafel (officially part of intangible cultural heritage of the Netherlands) also lovingly referred to as Oma’s (Grandma’s) home kitchen brought from the Dutch Indies, featuring some dishes that are not served in any restaurant.
In Holland you see mostly Indonesian restaurants. My grandmother aka Oma Keasberry opened Djokja, an Indo-European restaurant in Amsterdam back in the early 1950s. Some years later she changed it into Indonesian restaurant to indicate she served authentic and traditional food from the archipelago – not to be confused with a watered down version adapted to Dutch tastes.
In his book, Pascal Jalhay gives his vision of Dutch Indies cuisine with the culinary passion and creativity for which he has been praised. With the cooperation and recipes of 14 talented chefs: Anita Boerenkamp (Spandershoeve), Arjuna Besenboem (Restaurant Nakal), Betty van Bokhoven (De Sawa), Danny Jansen (24Kitchen), Dennis Huwaë (Restaurant Daalder), Eduard Roesdi (Iboe Tsjilik), Frank Deuning (Restaurant The Raffles), Hans van Triest (Restaurant Kerckebosch), Jaimie van Heije (Jaimie van Heije), Jeff Keasberry (Keasberry Culinary), Jermain De Rozario (The Rozario *), Jimmy Lohamzah (Bali James), Lonny Gerungang (Di Roemah), Syrco Bakker ( Pure C **). On the day of the event the guests were served 12 dishes of the chefs that were present. A welcome cocktail with Saya spekkoek likeur was provided by Mark Pieplenbosch.
Jalhay grew up with French cuisine. “I never understood how Indonesian cuisine was, I found it difficult and I didn’t want to be doing anything with it either.” He left for Indonesia to discover his roots with his father. As he describes in his book: “During the trip a seed was planted in my head to do something with the Indonesian cuisine myself”.
Pascal and I met in 2013 when we were judges with Lonny Gerungan in the cooking competition in search of the most innovative Dutch Indies dish, organized by Indisch 3.0. This is when I learned about Pascal’s idea for his new book. I share Pascals vision that so much more can be done with this exotic cuisine in Holland. The evolution kind of halted in Holland. Especially at home where Grandma’s recipes are considered sacred. It also got the reputation of being excessive and quite labor intensive and therefore became less popular. I say: think outside the box or get out of grandma’s kitchen and dare to improvise and innovate – two basic characteristics of this cooking style. Indonesian cuisine is adventurous, diverse, rich in contrast, complex due to the many layers, ingredients and aromatic spice pastes. It offers unlimited possibilities, yet to be explored. Hence my book on the same subject: ‘de nieuwe Indische keuken van Jeff Keasberry‘ (Jeff Keasberry’s new Dutch Indies cuisine) published in the Netherlands in 2014. A new paradigm for Dutch Indies cuisine, intended to make it more accessible, with respect to grandma’s cooking style but now with contemporary, more appetizing recipes that fit todays busy and healthy lifestyle.
Looking at the creations of Pascal and the participating chefs, Baru Belanda is certainly going to make an impact in the culinary world in Holland. I feel inspired to try some new things in the realm of fine dining. The book is available in the Netherlands.