In November 2017 I had the pleasure meeting Yotam Ottolenghi during his visit to Amsterdam. I took part in the hummus contest during College Tour and and since, with his feedback, have worked on improving my skills. We talked about flavors, methods and different kinds of tastes and the importance of presentation.
As many of you know the Ottolenghi style of cooking, baking, thinking and the love for real food has been my inspiration for many year, making vegetables the key ingredient and setting the menu accordingly is what I do. In Esther's Cookery I give many workshops and use mainly the Ottolenghi recipes from all the books. During the workshops I try to motivate people to cook, taste, try and experience this way of cooking. During pop up restaurant evenings we let people taste the great recipes.
But there is much to learn and I have always been eager to improve skills, knowledge and grow the love for good cooking. That's why I applied for a 1 week internship in the kitchen with the people who make this food day in and day out.
Two weeks ago I had the enormous pleasure of spending a week in the kitchen of one of the most famous Ottolenghi restaurant Nopi. Nopi is located in Soho and many of the well known Ottolenghi dishes are served and when you walk in you are greeted by platters full of salads the menu is exciting and changes with the seasons to me it was a new fusion of Mediterraan and Asian flavours. Upstairs the restaurant is beautiful white and formal downstairs the guests are part of the ever busy and bustling open kitchen.
In this relatively small kitchen there are 15 chefs who work. Just work, clean, cook, create and make it happen. There is always something to prepare, tidy, try or someone to help. Every person knows exactly what to do and does so. The chefs are kind and critical of themselves and each other in the best possible way. No screaming and no running but with a well organised calm all guests (and there are many) are being served their dishes at enormous speed.
During all this hard work sous chef Spiros took all the time to tell me all there is to tell and show me how things are done, clean, cleaner cleanest. Tidy, tidier and tidiest is the way forward in the kitchen. Chef Calvin let me taste new dishes and new combinations and had no problem exchanging ideas. Head chef Spyros sees every move, dish and activity and shows how to improve. The kitchen at Nopi oozes the kind of good and true food I love so much in the Ottolenghi cookbooks.