Chef Name: Dennis Huwaë
Title: Chef / Co-Owner.
Awards: Best Promising Chef 2018, Gault & Millau.
How old were you when you started cooking professionally?
After culinary school, I chose to apprentice myself to the culinary heavyweights of Okura’s Ciel Bleu. At that time I was 15 years old and studying at the Koning Willem I College in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. It was also at this time that I became the Dutch Champion Apprentice Cook.
What’s your earliest and fondest first memory of food?
Every Sunday we had a wonderful family dinner at my grandmother’s house. I have Moluccan roots, and within that culture food is very important. The scents of all these beautiful herbs coming from my grandmother’s kitchen . . . fresh lemongrass, ginger, cilantro. Heaven, really.
Which chefs inspire you most and why?
Corey Lee at Benu in California. His cooking style inspires me enormously. It is beyond perfection. His respect for nature and the ingredients that he works with really appeals to me. I also really like the oriental twist that he gives to his dishes. But above all, I admire the purity of the ingredients and the perfect execution of his dishes. That is pure passion for food. That is really inspiring.
Isaac McHale at The Clove Club in London. I can really relate to his philosophy. This man lives and breathes food. He also just wants to do really delicious food with really high-quality products – the best he can get. Classical, but always with a modern twist and served in a low-key environment.
What are your two favourite cookbooks and why?
Benu by Corey Lee and Grand Livre de Cuisine by Alain Ducasse. They are both classical chefs. Corey is Asian and I cook classical dishes, mostly with an Asian twist.
Which two ingredients could you not live without?
Cheese and eggs.
What is your favourite comfort food to cook at home?
My wife always cooks at home and I really love her vegetarian lasagne.
If you could eat at any Michelin star restaurant in the world today, where would it be and why?
Chef Corey Lee’s three Michelin star restaurant Benu in California, because at the moment he is my favourite chef.
And who would you take as your guest?
My family. My wife, my daughter and son are my favourite company. And on top of that they are all foodies, so it’s always fun to take them out for dinner.
What do you look for in a good chef?I look for people who are passionate about everything that they do and their desire for perfection. I like it when a person doesn’t settle for less than an A+. But what I find most important is that they are good people with a good heart and that we share the same dream – surprising our guests in a cosy and warm environment with the best food, the best wines and the best service.
What do you look for in a good chef?
I look for people who are passionate about everything that they do and their desire for perfection. I like it when a person doesn’t settle for less than an A+. But what I find most important is that they are good people with a good heart and that we share the same dream; surprising our guests in a cozy and warm environment with the best food, the best wines and the best service.
What advice would you give to chefs starting their career paths now?
If you really want to be the best at what you do, you have to take the time to grow. Young chefs often want to move too fast. Some things need time. Learn from the very best and become even better. When you are ready, develop your own style. At this point it is important to follow your own path and follow your heart. Don’t look at what others are doing. Be autonomous and independent in what you create.
Dennis Huwaë is Chef/Patron at Restaurant Daalder, Amsterdam.