Being here is like nothing I could have ever imagined. When I originally said that this place was in the middle of nowhere, who would have thought that to get to the restaurant I would have to step out of our apartment to the smell of the donkey that lives behind the apartment (a literal one, not a figurative one), walk down an unpaved muddy road next to the farms that grow our turnips and salsify, and endure the aggressive playfulness of the chef’s dog, who lives right outside the kitchen?
Literally, nothing even resembling a villiage is within 20 km of here.
Even where I feel most comfortable, the kitchen, is like another world to me. I have started in “new kitchens” more times than i can even count now, but it wasn’t until I walked into the kitchen at In de Wulf did I not feel immediately at place. Normally there are whirrs of blenders, the cranking of the dish machine, the mixture of smells of gas stoves, burnt iron, and bubbling stocks that gives me an innate sense comfort. But not here. It was obvious here that a chef designed the kitchen. There is a place and location for everything: trashcans have their own pullout drawer, bain maries are built into the counter for both spoons and immersion blenders, and even the dish pit is somehow quieter. There are no gas stoves, only induction, and every piece of equipment you would need to fully concentrate on making the best food you possibly make is there: combi ovens, thermo mix, auto shaam, and a hotplate to keep pots of sauces a perfect temperatures. The kitchen is quiet, only with the sound of determined cooking. For me, its like breathing new air into a place i know so well.
May be the biggest breath of fresh air that I feel, however, is the people and philosophy itself. While Chef Kobe’s kitchen philosophy is on his website, more than any other aspect, his views on food are expressed on the plate and not on media networks where it’s trumpeted with the beating of drums and thumping on chests. Around 80 percent of the herbs ans garnishes that go on the plate are foraged, but nowhere on the menu does it proclaim that. The tiny wild ducks that hunters specifically hunt for him and are matured in house arent blasted all over the internet and are simply explained at the table as “matured wild ducks in hay.” With each plate that goes out, the chef and cooks here make that point by just making the food the freshest and best and more creative that they can do it. If customers can taste the difference, they’ll not only ask where or how it was done, but also make an exceptionally out of the way trip to come back and eat.
Its been a great first week. Even doing the menial tasks like shucking oysters, cleaning sepia, and pulling meat from and polishing whelk shells has given me new perspective. And that is a very refreshing drink to sip.