FROM RUSH TO RESTFULNESS

  4 min

Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.

INTERVIEW

Dutch chef Estée Strooker is learning from the forced stop caused by COVD-19

From rush to restfulness

Many chefs have been hit hard by the Coronavirus. In their personal lives, in their business ventures, or even their physical health. But for a select few the current crisis has been a blessing in disguise. Among them the Dutch chef Estée Strooker. “Things move faster if you take more time.”

Joost Scholten    Rahi Rezvani   Xiao Er Kong

The versatile Estée Strooker is used to things being hectic. She owns fine dining restaurant ‘t Amusement and deli Stroom and is one of the leading figures in the growing Dutch Cuisine movement. In her business, personal life, entrepreneurial spirit, and idealism she is unstoppable and insatiable. Until the pandemic forced her restaurant to close and her world to shrink back down to a few core elements. “I panicked when the news we would be forced to shut hit. That panic subsided when it became clear it wouldn’t be the end of me financially speaking. After that the feeling changed to gratitude for the break that was gifted to me.”

I am grateful for the break that was gifted to me”

Tired mind

What Estée calls a break the rest of us mortals call hard work. Her deli Stroom stayed open, and along the way she prepared two new menus for ‘t Amusement and launched a new concept called Culi Kit: A meal box that delivers ingredients and a shopping list for additional ingredients to home chefs. Estée then livestreams herself making the recipe and viewers can cook along and ask questions. “Of course I’m not sitting still, but I noticed it was good for me to not try and do everything. That made me realize how tired I really was. Physically I’m fine and dandy, but my head was 


too full. Having to take this forced step back gave my energy more direction, and I noticed it was a lot easier to come up with new dishes. My team and I have never composed, cooked, and tasted two complete menus at the same time. It’s faster and calmer now. The foodservice rush where you always feel like you’re a step behind was gone for a while and it offered me a lot of depth. And practically speaking I am very chaotic, so it was nice to rearrange and reorganise the kitchen so everything has its own place."

Creative direction

Not just the potato peelers and pots are now in the right place at ‘t Amusement. Estée herself has a proper place and position. “When I think of something I express it immediately and want to start working on it right away. And if I come up with something else an hour later I say it aloud and want to work on that too. I’m not allowed to do that anymore. I’m not allowed to just bother my employees with new plans and projects, that all has to go through my assistant Chantal, and she then communicates it. Otherwise I’d drive my entire team up the wall with my sparks of inspiration. To me it’s a creative process, but to many others it’s an endless and unworkable source of unrest. A measure like this creates a sense of peace for the team. Even if I struggle sometimes if I can’t immediately experiment with every idea I have.”

The foodservice rush where you always feel like you’re a step behind was gone for a while and it offered me a lot of depth”

More intimate

The cliché about female leadership is that it’s more about connecting rather than constraining, more about coaching than directing. The connection between chef and team is more intimate. Does that also mean it’s more vulnerable when the team is forced apart? Does the coherence and balance that a leader like Estée is looking for vanish when separation and social distancing is the new normal? 

“The deli never stopped, of course. I connected that to the team at the restaurant and made sure everyone still had a job to do. That created a beautiful synergy. We learned a lot from each other and that only strengthened our team spirit. We started testing new dishes and went foraging together. I loved seeing that the fine dining at ‘t Amusement and the meals at Stroom amplified and added to one another during this financially complicated time and that the teams of both businesses forged a deeper connection in this emotionally complicated time. That’s a great gift. I’m a chef because I want to pamper people, but also because I want to connect people. That made the first day of reopening on the first of June so special. Everyone was so happy, grateful, and enthusiastic to come dine with us again… It went back to being something special.”

  4 min

Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.

From rush to restfulness

Dutch chef Estée Strooker is learning from the forced stop caused by COVD-19

Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.

Many chefs have been hit hard by the Coronavirus. In their personal lives, in their business ventures, or even their physical health. But for a select few the current crisis has been a blessing in disguise. Among them the Dutch chef Estée Strooker. “Things move faster if you take more time.”

Joost Scholten    Rahi Rezvani   Xiao Er Kong

The versatile Estée Strooker is used to things being hectic. She owns fine dining restaurant ‘t Amusement and deli Stroom and is one of the leading figures in the growing Dutch Cuisine movement. In her business, personal life, entrepreneurial spirit, and idealism she is unstoppable and insatiable. Until the pandemic forced her restaurant to close and her world to shrink back down to a few core elements. “I panicked when the news we would be forced to shut hit. That panic subsided when it became clear it wouldn’t be the end of me financially speaking. After that the feeling changed to gratitude for the break that was gifted to me.”

I am grateful for the break that was gifted to me”

Tired mind

What Estée calls a break the rest of us mortals call hard work. Her deli Stroom stayed open, and along the way she prepared two new menus for ‘t Amusement and launched a new concept called Culi Kit: A meal box that delivers ingredients and a shopping list for additional ingredients to home chefs. Estée then livestreams herself making the recipe and viewers can cook along and ask questions. 

“Of course I’m not sitting still, but I noticed it was good for me to not try and do everything. That made me realize how tired I really was. Physically I’m fine and dandy, but my head was too full. Having to take this forced step back gave my energy more direction, and I noticed it was a lot easier to come up with new dishes. My team and I have never composed, cooked, and tasted two complete menus at the same time. It’s faster and calmer now. The foodservice rush where you always feel like you’re a step behind was gone for a while and it offered me a lot of depth. And practically speaking I am very chaotic, so it was nice to rearrange and reorganise the kitchen so everything has its own place."

Creative direction

Not just the potato peelers and pots are now in the right place at ‘t Amusement. Estée herself has a proper place and position. “When I think of something I express it immediately and want to start working on it right away. And if I come up with something else an hour later I say it aloud and want to work on that too. I’m not allowed to do that anymore. I’m not allowed to just bother my employees with new plans and projects, that all has to go through my assistant Chantal, and she then communicates it. Otherwise I’d drive my entire team up the wall with my sparks of inspiration. To me it’s a creative process, but to many others it’s an endless and unworkable source of unrest. A measure like this creates a sense of peace for the team. Even if I struggle sometimes if I can’t immediately experiment with every idea I have.”

The foodservice rush where you always feel like you’re a step behind was gone for a while and it offered me a lot of depth.”

More intimate

The cliché about female leadership is that it’s more about connecting rather than constraining, more about coaching than directing. The connection between chef and team is more intimate. Does that also mean it’s more vulnerable when the team is forced apart? Does the coherence and balance that a leader like Estée is looking for vanish when separation and social distancing is the new normal? 

“The deli never stopped, of course. I connected that to the team at the restaurant and made sure everyone still had a job to do. That created a beautiful synergy. We learned a lot from each other and that only strengthened our team spirit. We started testing new dishes and went foraging together. I loved seeing that the fine dining at ‘t Amusement and the meals at Stroom amplified and added to one another during this financially complicated time and that the teams of both businesses forged a deeper connection in this emotionally complicated time. That’s a great gift. I’m a chef because I want to pamper people, but also because I want to connect people. That made the first day of reopening on the first of June so special. Everyone was so happy, grateful, and enthusiastic to come dine with us again… It went back to being something special.”

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Food Inspiration Magazine is the online magazine for foodservice professionals in search of inspiration and innovation. With the magazine we collect, enrich and spread inspiration. The free subscription magazine is published eight times per year and is an abundant source of inspiration for food and hospitality professionals. Our readers can be found in the U.S., Northern Europe, Latin America and Asia.
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