How did you get started as a chef?
"First I followed and completed a study HBO Technical Business Administration, during my internships I found out that this was not what I was going to be happy with. At the age of 25 I started cooking. This was and is my biggest hobby. After my studies I therefore returned to Venlo and started cooking at restaurant La Mangerie. At the time, they had a BIB. At the same time, I followed the cook's training. After I had worked there for 2 years and had obtained my cook's diploma, I wanted to gain more experience at a high level. I then moved to the suburbs to work in various starred restaurants. I worked in Amsterdam at Ron Blauw*, in Loenen aan de Vecht at 't Amsterdammertje*, in Harderwijk at 't Nonnetje** and in Haarlem at restaurant Fris (BIB). There I gained a lot of experience at a high level."
What was it like working at the top level?
"During my training I met a very fine chef. He cooked in a restaurant in Harderwijk that had 1 Michelin star at the time. Because I wanted to experience working at that level, I moved to Harderwijk. When I was working there for 3 months, we got a second Michelin star and suddenly we were among the best 15 restaurants in the Netherlands. Super cool! Of course we celebrated the success together that day. Not only did we get a lot of media attention, the reservations also flooded in. That afternoon we were suddenly booked up six months in advance. Suddenly you have guests who come especially for that second star. A few days later I was sitting at the table of Belgian guests. The week after the Michelin stars were awarded, they visited all the new 2-star establishments. It's very special!
Why do you like working at Cabillaud?
"Cabillaud is one of the most beautiful places in Venlo. The view over the river Maas and the Old Market and the fantastic entourage make it a wonderful place to receive guests. Guests really feel like they are away for an evening, almost on holiday. If you can then express your ideas and prepare and serve your dishes to guests, that's great. Especially if those guests appreciate it too with the beautiful reviews they write."
How do you come up with new dishes and what makes them so delicious?
"I come up with new dishes by asking myself what I like and what I would like to eat in a restaurant. I think that my style of cooking is also characterised by freshness, so the use of acids, no classic heavy butter sauces but rather easily digestible dishes. I don't want people to have to leave the table after five courses, but I do want them to have a nice feeling of fullness."
Is there an ingredient you use often?
"I don't have a specific ingredient that I use all the time but I do love working with lemon and lime. The zest, juice and combination of these are fantastic acids. In the right amount it just works very refreshing and invigorating. I like to use that in dishes."
Want to know more about Chef Wouter? Read the full article in the Maaspoort Magazine, which is available for free in De Maaspoort!