Chefs from the Netherlands and the UK swapped kitchens in March 2014 in the International Chef Exchange (ICEx).
Brighton dish in Den Hague Ox tongue cheek celeriac tarragon – photo Julia Claxton
Bas Oonk of Basaal in Den Haag and Michael Bremner of 64 Degrees in Brighton hosted gourmet suppers in each others kitchens to showcase their culinary skills and the artisan produce of their home regions of Zuid-Holland and Sussex, as part of the International Chef Exchange.
“It’s been a great experience”, says Bas Oonk of Basaal. “Having the chance to show Den Haag’s finest producers and restaurateurs gave us a new appreciation of our home city. Our visit to Brighton was inspiring and we were not only made to feel very welcome but also impressed by the way that the city embraces the restaurant industry. Our relationship with Michael and 64 Degrees will definitely continue”.
“I really enjoyed the challenge of cooking in another kitchen”, continues Michael Bremner of 64 Degrees. “But Bas’ team were amazing to work with and it was fascinating exchanging ideas on recipes and ingredients”.
International Chef Exchange is an initiative created in early 2012 by the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival to promote food tourism, share best practice in the hospitality industry, and create a platform for international trade in quality food and drink.
In addition to the suppers, the chefs also undertake a food tour of each region meeting local producers and restaurateurs including the Van Kleef distillery in Den Haag, and the award-winning Ridgeview Wine Estate in Sussex. Hilton The Hague and Hilton Brighton Metropole also hosted cocktail masterclasses with top mixologists from each city.
“It’s a chance for cross promotion of food regions and sharing knowledge and experience with liked-minded enthusiastic people”, says Mardi Roberts of Ridgeview. “We have also had a great time making friends and connections in the food and wine world with fantastic commercial and marketing opportunities as a result of the publicity.”
“International Chef Exchange is a great platform for cities to showcase what is unique, distinctive and happening on a culinary level”, says Lennart Cramer of Den Haag Marketing. “The Hague is known for its fresh fish and Indonesian cuisine since it both located at the sea, just 30 minutes south of Amsterdam, and Indonesia being a former Dutch colony. In the Hague, we visited The Penthouse – the highest restaurant in the Netherlands -, the renowned Indonesian restaurant Garoeda and the harbour of Scheveningen to taste some freshly-caught herring. The show really focuses on qualitative food and drinks and discovering hidden gems within a destination, but above all it gives people an unique insider’s look into the city’s kitchen.”
Previous exchanges have taken place between Sussex and Maastricht, Lyon and Rotterdam, with forthcoming exchanges with chefs from across the south east of England to Sweden, Finland and Dubai.
ICEx is being filmed by Latest TV for a new six-part television series to be screened in the UK in summer 2014. The show will feature a variety of food businesses from hotel restaurants and modern bistros to gastropubs and the bouchons of Lyon. The programmes will also be available for international syndication.
“International Chef Exchange has really snowballed over the past year or so and we’re actively looking for more chefs and restaurateurs across the world to participate not only in the cultural exchange but also in the television series”, says project co-ordinator Nick Mosley.