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Who: Stephanie E. Loor
- Where did you learn how to cook? Like many others, I learned to cook from my grandparents and my parents. Being a curious person, I would always sit on the counter top when my grandfather was cooking. He encouraged me to go and gather my own vegetables from his garden so I could cook it myself. We always ended up with the weirdest combinations such as tayerblad with leaves of the madam Jeanette pepper.
- How many years have you been cooking? I have been cooking professionally for 8 years now. I started years before that at home: helping with Christmas and birthday dinners for the family.
- With which ingredient to you prefer to work with? I love to work with fresh local vegetables and fruit. There is so much that you can do with these ingredients. Use them for sauces, in desserts and as eye catching garnishing. If I had to choose just one, I would go with the Madame Jeanette pepper. I use it not only for spice, but also for the wonderful aroma and flavor; in appetizers, main courses and even desserts.
- What is your favorite dish to prepare and why? I could sit down and write a lot of different dishes that I love to prepare, but anyone close to me would say that it’s cheesecake. It took some time and practice to write the standard recipe. After that, I started experimenting with different local fruit as flavoring such as mope, awara, and pineapple.
- What is your favorite dish to eat? I love my parents home cooking and am not able to name just one dish. My mom makes a great cold pasta salad with sundried tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, almonds and garlic. Very simple and very delicious. And my dad is the king of bbq. Everytime he has a different secret ingredient which makes the meat taste super. And it could be anything ranging from peanut butter to fresh kentjor from our garden. One dish that made me feel like I was in food-heaven was a foie gras ravioli I had in Paris. Simple dish with the ravioli in a cream sauce and a reduction of balsamic vinegar and orange, but it tasted amazing!
- What do you think of our Surinamese cuisine? I think that the Surinamese cuisine is beautiful because of the wide variety of cultures that coexist there. For me, the Surinamese cuisine is a combination of all the different cultures and their cuisines.
- What could be better? The Surinamese cuisine is very good. It could be better if we would refine it. This goes hand in hand with learning to appreciate our local ingredients and daring to do something different. Change isn’t always bad.
- Is there a platform for chefs needed? Yes. Since the Suriname Chefs Association was founded, I have noticed some change in not only chefs and their way of thinking, but also the interest of the public towards trying something different.
- Do you think the Surinamese cuisine is evolving? I do think that the Surinamese cuisine is evolving, but this is going very slow. Nowadays, people are more exposed to what is happening in the rest of the world because of the internet and television. This gives them a glimpse of what is going on out there and how others are daring to do something else. People still want to hold on to the traditional cuisine, which is not bad, but we should be adventurous and try something else with those same traditional dishes.
- What direction should we go with the Surinamese cuisine/kitchen? As I said before, the Surinamese cuisine should be refined and reinvigorated. I believe that tourism will flourish in the future, and the Surinamese cuisine will be a big tourism product. We could go even further and develop gastronomic tourism in Suriname. The foundation in this big plan would be a proper education and standardization in the hospitality business. I do believe we can do this eventually.