Le Nouveau Chef presents a lighthearted interview series featuring dedicated individuals who inspire us. Our guests answer spontaneous questions about food culture, childhood dreams, breakfast habits, and everything in between.
Ewout Eleveld currently serves as the chef at Bistro LOF, nestled within the picturesque estate of Parc Broekhuizen. Ewout has devoted himself to this role for nearly three years. Bistro LOF, which stands for Local Organic Farm, emphasizes the utilization of locally sourced produce, including vegetables, spices, and flowers from their own garden. Additionally, the restaurant sources its fish from Holland, just a one-hour drive away from the sea.
Are you a night or a morning person?
I have a really high energy level, so I'm both a night and a morning person. In the mornings, I can be relaxed, but when you push the right buttons, I go on.
Appetizer or dessert?
Dessert. I have a sweet tooth. But then again, oysters and champagne, you can wake me up at night for that.
Do you wear a bib apron, or no bib apron?
Yes, I wear an apron. I am a working chef, and working chefs wear working clothes, so I need one.
What is your favourite spot in the world to get inspired as a chef?
Asia. I have been to Korea, Japan, and Thailand. What inspires me is the culture there, the specific use of produce, and the markets. Especially Japan is really inspiring. I feel like a kid on the playground when visiting those kinds of countries. I don't often go there, but I used to. Now I am really busy at Bistro LOF. And of course, due to Covid, everybody knows it. I am trying to visit again next year.
Tell us a random fact about yourself, something special.
Well, I am a proud father of my son; he is eight years old. I also love to ski, but I broke my shoulder two years ago, so I have to be careful due to the operation.
Are there any trends you think that are interesting at the moment?
Right now, the trend of cooking and concepts and everything is because of the change of the internet. Nowadays, everything is out in the open, so sometimes it is really easy to open something and be successful from the start. But from what I learned in the last twenty-five years as a chef, and especially the last three years being a chef at Bistro LOF, is that you have to be close to your heart and your mind and just do what feels good for you. And of course, you have to look at what other chefs and restaurants do, but try to stay close to your heart and your passion and do it with love. The guest will taste and notice it.
Also, your fellow chefs in the kitchen or the restaurant staff will follow you on that path of being sincere; you don't play games or have double agendas. For me, that is the most important. For me, it is not a trend; for me, it is a countered trend. Nowadays, when someone comes in and asks for Bergamot Lemons, it has been around here for over a thousand years, so what is a trend? Lemons are a trend to use. I think you have to take a look at yourself and know what you want and what to give to the people. Do I want to tell a story with my dishes or not? Because everyone is doing so? I don't know. I just want to make honest and healthy food. That is what is really important nowadays, not too much cream or sugar, keep everything balanced. Using enough vegetables; it's not just giving people a nice evening or lunch but giving them energy by producing honest food.
Name one food you can’t stand.
That would be something from my youth, raisin mash. It is a kind of porridge, purple and with raisins. I don't know if it still exists. I used to almost vomit from it. My mother used to make it, as well as macaroon puree. Nowadays, I love it.
Give up cooking with sugar or salt?
Sugar. You can never, ever take out salt from a dish. Cook potatoes without salt? Bread without salt? Pasta without salt? No, you won't be a friend of mine. When I first came to my ex-girlfriend's house, her mother was cooking meatballs with vegetables and boiled potatoes. It was the first time I came to her house, and I am a chef, so of course I went straight into the kitchen and tipped my hand in the potatoes, searched for the salt and without saying anything added salt to it.
After twenty minutes when we started dining the mother goes: ‘The potatoes are so salty! What happened to them?’ I answered with, ‘They are not salty this is how they are supposed to be’, ‘ you can't cook potatoes without salt!’. She said: ‘I have been cooking them for thirty years without salt. No one ever mentions that there should be salt added to them’.
What is your most vivid childhood memory of food?
My most vivid childhood memory of food is eating herring when I was three years old. I remember my mother eating it with her hand up in her mouth, without onions, of course. I asked her what she was eating, and she said, "This is herring. Do you want to taste it?" I answered, "No, I want it the same as you, with the tail in my hand!" I loved it and ate three of them. True Dutch guy right there.
Besides being a Chef, what are your hobbies?
I have a broad interest in music, especially the black music genre. I grew up listening to HipHop, R&B, and Soul because of my two older brothers, who are six and seven years older than me. Later on, my musical taste shifted towards Techno and Deephouse.
Aside from music, I love spending time with people, whether it's simply hanging out with friends or enjoying a nice meal together. I appreciate the little things in life, especially when you have a demanding job that requires a lot of time and energy.
A month ago, I treated myself to a Saturday night off and planned a dinner date. The restaurant was buzzing with activity, the music was pumping, and the overall vibe was fantastic. There was even a small festival happening in the city. We ordered a bottle of champagne, and I thought to myself, "Why not? Who's going to stop me?" I turned to my date and asked, "Do you know when the last time I was free on a Saturday night was? Twelve years ago." I was so overjoyed, I felt like a puppy with its tail wagging.
I also enjoy going to my son's soccer practices. It's about balance and perspective in life. The people around you are the most important, and health is paramount. Money is important, but not as important as health. The biggest lesson I've learned from being a chef for so long is to savor life and be grateful for the blessings you receive. Don't be ignorant or arrogant; instead, be thankful for the people who surround you and those who are always there for you.
Would you rather change one answer and do the interview all over again? Or leave it this way and go back to the kitchen?
I'd leave it this way and head back to the kitchen.