An Interview with Jurgen van der Zalm


Who: Jurgen van der Zalm
What: Executive Chef at Vinkeles
Age: 36

Tell us, what does an Executive Chef do really? What does your role entail?
In my role, I’m responsible for everything around Restaurant Vinkeles, as well as supporting other departments of the kitchen within the hotel. Mostly, you’ll find me in the kitchen, where I’m in charge of a team of 22.  

How long do you work at The Dylan now?
Already 14 years! Before that, I worked at La Rive*, led by Mr. Kats. Next to that, I did multiple internships during the last 14 years, including the De Librije*** in Zwolle, Apoiniente*** in Cadiz and at In De Wulf* in Belgium. I felt that there was more room to learn at other places too, to feed my inspiration. The Dylan was very happy to facilitate this.   

Take us with you in a regular day. How do you start the day?
I wake up between 7 and 8 AM, have breakfast together with my girlfriend and discuss the day that’s ahead of us. I drive her to work and drive straight to the hotel, where I arrive around 10 AM. Most of the guys are then already in full swing to start up their ‘Parti’: six for Vinkeles and three for OCCO. At 11 AM, we eat breakfast together, as a family. Our breakfast chefs Jailson & Ivan always prepare this. We have a briefing about the day that’s ahead of us, discuss last night, and of course is room for some small talk as well. After that, the real work starts: mise en place. I have a helicopter view and try to be involved in cooking as much as possible. However, that is not always possible due to appointments, meetings, administration etcetera. Bart Kalfsterman is my right hand as Sous-Chef. He is fully committed to cooking with the team and ensures consistency and quality of our cuisine. Continuity is very important to me, some even call me a control freak. Everything has to be exactly the same, but that is also what I am expecting at this level.  

What is the best moment of your day?
The end of service. I often take my position around the corner, right at the entrance of the restaurant where I can see all tables. Everyone seems so relaxed, no one pays attention to me and I can see how our guests are enjoying their evening. That’s what really brings me joy. At the start of the evening, people don’t know what to expect, it takes a bit of time before they unwind. To see how Natasja and her team manage to take that sort of insecurity away from our guests by creating the most inviting and cosy atmosphere, is really an art to see. They ensure that all our guests are delighted, so they can fully enjoy the creations we have been working so hard for…  

If you are not in Restaurant Vinkeles, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I don’t have a lot of time off, but when I do, I like to spend some time with my girlfriend. We love nature and exploring new places. We very much enjoy going out for dinner and do fun things, but most of all we just enjoy life together. Our last city trip was to Paris and I immediately fell in love with the city. My girlfriend used to live there and took me as a surprise for my birthday, she showed me all the hotspots by bike, all in one weekend! We had breakfast at “Maison Sauvage”, a small restaurant covered in the most beautiful flowers and ivy in the middle of Sain-Germain-des-Près, can’t be missed. Definitely highly recommend it. Furthermore, I enjoyed lunch in several different French bistros and another highlight was an exquisite dinner in the Four Seasons Hotel, George V

Imagine; you no longer live in Amsterdam, you are just passing through. You have one day. What would you do?
I would of course stop by The Dylan and take a stroll through the nine streets. A little food tour can certainly not be missed. Enjoy everything Amsterdam has to offer: the best Dutch fried fish in town, cheese of De Kaaskamer, savour dim sum at Oriental City, get some ramen at the Albert Cuyp and finish the day off with a Van Stapele chocolate cookie. For more tips, read my perfect 48 hours in Amsterdam

Do you see yourself going abroad in the future?
At this moment I don’t, as won’t see myself be somewhere else than at The Dylan. I get all the support from the hotel and I am still full of ambitions and energy to bring Restaurant Vinkeles to an even higher level! 

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View from luxury boutique hotel, The Dylan Amsterdam. A view on the secluded garden.

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A view from one of the rooms in luxury boutique hotel The Dylan Amsterdam, member of the leading hotels of the world. View on the building and the secluded garden.
The leading hotels of the world. The Dylan Amsterdam is a member of this.

As a proud member of The Leading Hotels of the World, The Dylan offers the opportunity joining Leaders Club, a remarkably uncommon loyalty program.

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16 april 2023

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