How long have you been at the restaurant?
I have been at the Royal Thames Restaurant since March 2017.
Which was the first restaurant you worked in?
The first restaurant I worked in was in a restaurant in Hotel Campanile in Gouda, The Netherlands.
What was the last London restaurant you went to, apart from your own?
The last restaurant I visited was Asadal, Korean Barbecue. I loved it for the simplicity of presentation and flavours, which then combine to create those great variants of flavour that I like in food.
What or who has been the biggest influence on the way you cook and why?
My biggest influence to become the chef I have become, besides my Dad or Grandmother, who are and were great home cooks, was my second Head Chef. His name is Marcel Meelis, I was working for him for a two and a half year period in his fine dining restaurant, De Barbaars in Voorburg, The Netherlands. What he instilled in me is drive and passion for our craft, as well as the layering of flavours in a dish to compromise a flavour variation in between each bite of food. He taught me the importance of using my position within the kitchen team to support and nurture the craft we have chosen. To him I am eternally grateful.
What is your personal signature dish?
As for a signature dish, I wouldn’t say that I have a specific dish. What I would say, is that I have more of a signature product. That is a smoked carpaccio I developed as a chef apprentice. This particular product is marinated 48 hours in a dry rub before being smoked over a hickory and oak mix of wood over a 2 to 3 day period. The result is a carpaccio that is a self-standing product that becomes the centre piece of the dish, and is enhanced by the garnishes. The greatest attribute of the “Beef jerky” Carpaccio, is it’s versatility. I used it for a 4 year period when I was Head Chef at the Royal Hague Golf and Country Club. It was varied between cold dishes, sandwiches, salads, warm main courses, and canapés.
Which other chef’s) do you most admire?
I admire loads of different chefs, just based on their own skill sets, but I would not say there is one particular chef I most admire. As a chef you must be your own chef and believe in your own pallet, creativity, and ability.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is that I am following a child hood dream to have a chef’s career in Europe, being from that little dot on the map in Texas to where I am now is still very motivating and rewarding.
And the worst?
The worst part of a chef’s career is the time spent away from my wife and daughter. Thankfully my fantastic wife has been trained in the hospitality industry so she understands the demands of the job. As for my little lady she likes to come and see daddy’s restaurants because she gets juice and chocolate. The simplicity of childhood.
What would your last meal be?
My last meal would probably be either some good ole Texas barbecue or some great Mexican food. You can take the boy out of Texas but you can’t take the Texas out of the boy.
Do you have a chef’s shortcut that you can share with us?
Honestly, any shortcuts are just that, short cuts. My advice would be the following; when cooking, ingredients are like a deck of playing cards, shuffle the deck and see what comes from the deal. Cook with confidence and the results will be there. However if there is one short cut to making your food better, it is don’t be scared of seasoning.