Though we're (obviously) not going out to eat much these days, there is one restaurant that's been a bit of a saviour for us here in Amsterdam: RIJKS. The wonderful team, led by kitchen wizard Joris Bijdendijk, has been keeping us fed & happy in our quarantine, delivering incredible haute cuisine right to our doorsteps. Before he was delivering delight on the regular, Joris was running a veritable culinary empire at RIJKS & WILS. We had the pleasure of chatting with him to find out exactly how the metaphorical sausage is made. Keep reading to find out more.
You might have heard the good news: we're having a baby! Well, a book baby, that is. After years of bringing you the best of the best of travel tips on the web, we decided to take pen (or printing press) to page and bring you an amazing, practical, beautiful guidebook to the city that is nearest & dearest to our heart. All with the help of our amazing publisher MENDO. Which city is that, you ask? Why, Amsterdam of course! So now it's time for the countdown to begin.
As our publishing date grows ever closer, we want to give you some sneak peeks into what's to come to get you as excited as we are. Our book is nothing without the incredible shops, restaurants, bars & businesses we love, so it's important to us that you get to know them a bit as well. That's why, until the launch of our book, we are going to be bringing you interviews with the inspiring founders of some of our very favourite spots.
gloobles: Hey Joris! Hope you're hanging in there during this forced hibernation. We are so happy you had the time to talk to us about what goes on behind the scenes at your restaurants. Food is obviously a big part of your life. How did you first fall in love with it?
Joris: I was taught about the joys of cooking from an early age. Every Saturday we dined together as a family, and when I was really young, we lived in the Belgian Ardennes where we had our own kitchen garden & orchard.
gloobles: It sounds totally idyllic. What was your culinary journey like before RIJKS?
Joris: When I decided I wanted to become a chef after I finished high school at 16 years old, I started learning from chefs in their kitchens, both in France & in The Netherlands. I wanted to learn the trade by practice instead of taking a theoretical approach. When I was head chef at De Grand, Rijksmuseumapproached me to lead their new restaurant, RIJKS. This was five & a half years ago.
gloobles: We're quite impressed you learned in such a hands-on way. What was the journey of opening the restaurant like?
Joris: We had an extensive plan at the start, but along the way and especially when the restaurant opened, we had to learn & adapt: expectations were often at odds with the situation in real life.
gloobles: True. You can plan all you like, but so often life itself gets in the way. What’s WILS like? How is it different from RIJKS? How is it similar?
Joris: Both are joint ventures, and I was asked by the initiator. Before I knew it, I was sitting with the architect, so I was involved from the start. They both are all about simplicity, quality & authenticity, but the settings are completely different.
gloobles: Good to make sure they're unique. Amsterdam is your hometown. Is the city significant for you?
Joris: Amsterdam is my hometown; I feel very at home here. It’s a very tolerant city, and most people feel accepted here. I love that the hospitality sector is really in development - it's the start of a renaissance.
gloobles: We've noticed that too, and we're super excited to see how things keep developing. Who or what inspires you?
Joris: A lot of different places, big chefs & ground-breaking architects. But I can't think of one single person that has been the drive of my career.
gloobles: A melting pot of inspiration. When you’re not dining at RIJKS or WILS, where do you like to eat in Amsterdam?
Joris: If I am very honest (I know, boring) at home with my family; every Sunday & Monday I eat at home. My wife does the groceries, and I cook. I live around the corner from Rijsel, so we go there sometimes for a casual dinner. Or Café Caron.
gloobles: If you're already spending so much time in restaurants, it definitely makes sense you'd want to spend as much time at home as possible. Do you have a favourite restaurant in the world?
Joris: Several places, but Maison Bras (run by the grand chef Michel Bras in Laguiole) was one of the most memorable. Every year I try to visit Septimein Paris as well.
gloobles: Where do you see RIJKS in 10 years?
Joris: Foreigners should think of RIJKS when they think of Amsterdam.
gloobles: You want the two to become inextricable! Sort of how NOMA & Copenhagen used to be. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world at RIJKS, who would it be and why?
Joris: My wife, of course!