What: Executive Sous Chef
Where: Rumors Lounge at Hotel Krasnapolsky
1. Where did you learn how to cook? I started cooking with my grandmother when I used to stay with her after school ends. She always cooked something special (simple oso Njang/home-made) for us that we always loved. Occasionally I would help her with stirring or add a maggi and she did not know that it made me all happy while doing that :). I was always curious when I was having dinner with my family at a restaurant wondering where all the good food came from. So I actually learned to cook from my Granny and Moms. That is where it all started.
2. How many years have you been cooking? This will be my 8th year in the industry.
3. With which ingredient do you prefer to work with? I work with the products of our blessed country “switi sranan” Suriname. I love working with our raw materials from our own soil as I am pure in my culture and connected to the land, so I can proudly show others where I come from.
4. What is your favorite dish to prepare and why? WOW this is a difficult question! I do not really have a favorite dish or dishes, but my favorite preparation method is grilling. Love the taste and it also brings out the flavors of the products. Nothing better then simple grilling.
5. What is your favorite dish to eat? Honestly my Mom’s Saoto WOW! that’s really the highlight of it all. My mother cooks hands down the best Saoto in Suriname. Haha Blauwgrond yields a competitor.
6. What do you think of our Surinamese cuisine? The Surinamese kitchen is a very large kitchen thanks to our diversity in cultures. Suriname has no typical Surinamese cuisine, because we have the Indians, Maroons, creoolen, Hindustani, Javanese, Chinese and other cultures around us. This makes us unique in our cuisine. We have everything… a Hindu can prepare Pepre watra (native dish) and a Chinese can prepare a roti haha. Our Surinamese cuisine is original, because you can’t find it anywhere else on Earth. We should appreciate it.
7. What could be better? So anyway, we have all the flavors but in most restaurants we need to work on presentation. That’s not an easy job, because Surinamese food is eaten in large portions eg. A large plate with rice, 4 pieces of chicken and vegetables. It is an art to create our flavors so that the tourists and our own people can be amazed at what we do with our own dishes. We also need to apply other techniques, but we should not do anything to our flavors because that makes us who we are and what we stand for. Good food! It is a challenge to do the mind switch for most Surinamese because we are still holding on to our old standards. We need to think out of the Box Peoples! It is a bigger world out there.
8. Is there a platform for chefs needed? Indeed, we need a better strategy or approach for our chefs, I’m just glad that we have a Cooks Training in our own country. Mr.Wittenberg started in the year 2006 with level one chefs training. It is a pity that I no longer see most of my group from that time in the kitchen. But yes, we now have TANA Foundation and SHTTC with cooks training at a certain level. To be honest, it is not the papers that will conduct the work for you, it is your feeling, your believe, your passion for food. But also the motivation. Now I see that being a Chef as a profession is appreciated, that was not what happened earlier when I first started. The chefs must be aware that this profession is no ordinary appeal but it is an Art. We are artists who make people happy by giving them (what my friend Ramon Beuk would say) an Experience. It is a very stressful job, but I truly love it!
9. Do you think the Surinamese cuisine is evolving? Especially when I have to look at when I first started, and to where it is now, I must say that we have risen dramatically. Really, previously you did not even get a real cooking show from us. Then came Kokkerellen met Vera, Culinary on ATV. After… Soeng Ngie. Then came our local competitions, then the International competitions Berg en Dal Flavors of the Amazon. Schools and Education were established. I must say, the last 7 years we can really show you our development, but we should not rest and be contented. Instead we must now continue to push and we will definitely get one top spot in the Caribbean. We are still an Unknown Country for many people and countries in the culinary field, but we offer a lot more.
10. What direction should we go with the Surinamese cuisine? This is actually my answer to question 7. But we need more courage and more to represent new technology. And we should not be afraid to promote our product to the outside world. We should certainly have the support of our government or Ministry of TCT to also give us the opportunity to create and show people around us, the wealth of flavors we have here in our “Sweet beloved country Suriname”.