Interview with Chef Abram | Delicious Italy Magazine
A few months ago, during a warm and quiete summer evening, I got the idea to interview Chef Abram, (as well as my husband and “your better half” of I Eat Food Tours, of course).
Well, last November, he was interviewed more officially by Delicious Italy Magazine.
Have a good read everyone, with the hope that you too can join our culinary events and start to create delicious memories with Chef Abram & I Eat Food Tours.
Abram is a professional Dutch chef with more than 25 years of experience in the finest restaurants of Benelux.
He grew up between Amsterdam and his hometown Utrecht which informed him of cultural trends, unique culinary environments and strong international business presence.
One of his most important adventures included a consultancy position for the famous Okura Hotel & Restaurant in Amsterdam where he organized important banquets for, among others, the Japanese King and Queen and the Dutch Royal Family. He also catered for Prime Ministers and even U.S. Presidents in cooperation with the 2 Michelin Star Restaurant Ciel Blue.
He had his own luxury lunchroom and deli shop in the centre of Utrecht which incuded an exclusive dog boutique and special bakery catering for our canine friends. it was a unique and highly successful concept. For several years he also freelanced as a culinary developer for Spiros Chalos, an important Dutch/Greek Singer and music producer who opened his own luxury restaurant and Live Music Open Bar in Utrecht .
After two years here, Abram moved to Turin in 2014 to take up a position as head chef next to Michelin Star Chef Matteo Baronetto of Farmacia Del Cambio, one of the most historical dining spots in the city. Here, over a period of three and half years, he created a successful gastronomic concept. After this experience he launched, with his wife Cecilia, their Food Tour & Culinary Event company.
‘Le Tre Sorelle’, a patate viola dish by Chef Abram
1 When did your passion to be a Chef begin?
As a child I already had a clear idea that the kitchen would have been where I worked when grown up. But in Utrecht my family also provided a privileged place for music and art in all its forms. My mother had her space where she painted while my father had his own music room where he listened to opera and remembered my grandmother who was a talented soprano. I decided that I too would have my own special laboratory and, initially as a game, I chose the kitchen. My choices at school followed this passion leading to entering Utrecht’s Haute Cuisine School where I perfected my skills and knowledge with successive levels of specific training.
2 What were your first experiences in the kitchen?
My first real experience in the kitchen took place around the age of 18. A great maestro, or master chef, by the name of Pieter Van Der Lear got me started. He was an extremely charismatic, intelligent, funny and successful man and, of course, he was also a great chef. When he entered the classroom we were all hypnotized by his presence. He would arrive at school in his Bentley dressed in luxury clothes and boasting a different Rolex every day. He was one of the private chefs of the then Queen Beatrix. For us adolescents he was someone to emulate. I do remember when he told us that even if we are just slicing a potato, we must pay absolute attention just to that act and do everything possible to create a thing of beauty. “This potato should be treated in the same way as a diamond“, he would say. He made his point by placing a slice of potato with great care and precision on the face of one of his many Rolexes, then moving around the room to show us. Once he selected me and another student and put us to the test with a series of royal banquets for Queen Beatrix. That experience paved the way for my future freelance collaborations. So, at the age of 18, I took my first steps in a professional kitchen working with a brilliant, avant-garde, intelligent and sought after chef. It was a privilege, an honour and a source of great inspiration. Pietr was also a hedonist which I always saw in myself as since my childhood even though I wasn’t quite aware of it then. I looked for beauty everywhere and have never stopped doing it.
3 A dish closest to your heart?
There are actually several. I choose the heart of Parmigiana because it was the dish my wife Cecilia fell in love with. We met through Instagram! I lived in Holland and she lived in Turin. That was the first dish in my gallery that caught her attention and won her heart. Or more precisely, it was the dish in which she read my heart. She practically fell in love with my cooking … and then me. The two were inextricable. So we met virtually on February 14, 2014 and since then many important things have happened. For example, we have fulfilled the dream of working together doing something we love and which represents us. In 2017 we founded I Eat Walking Food Tours in Turin offering rich gastronomic itineraries. Today we are also present in Naples with Milan and Rome launching soon. In addition to culinary journeys, we offer many other activities such as Live Cooking and Fine Dining with me at the helm. We are very satisfied with the response we are getting. In Turin our activities are number 1 among all those proposed in the city and this pushes us to work with even more passion to create excellent products for our specific clientele.
Cecilia & Abram
4 What ingredients do you prefer to use?
I think I can best express who I am and what I love doing by creating vegetarian dishes. Nature offers such a variety of colors and flavors and I love to use them all. If you look at my dishes you can easily recognise this.
5 In what direction is Italian cuisine heading?
I believe that, compared to the past, Italian cuisine is increasingly open to experimentation and contamination in the positive sense f the word. For me the kitchen must a place of propagation. This is why my way of understanding reflects this sentiment.
6 Share with us a secret of the Chef?
The secret in the kitchen for me is to do things seriously yet without taking everything too seriously. Excuse the pun. The word gaming is popular today and, in fact, is the indispensable element for a chef. Playing with flavors, shapes, colors. In other words, experimenting continuously. If you stop playing how can you find new tastes?
7 One dish which sums up the territory?
I call it ‘Le Tre Sorelle‘ or Three Sisters. It is made with purple potatoes and garnished with carrot and parmesan chips, chestnut cream from the Val di Susa as well as Roman cabbage. In the Netherlands potatoes are what represents in Italy, or perhaps bread. We use them to prepare what is called ‘stampot’. For this dish, I chose the purple ones because I love their taste and color. I season them with extra virgin olive oil from the Ligurian Riviera (DOP Riviera Ligure Oil), one of my favorites. If we talk about Italy, then we cannot but talk about parmigiano, presented here in the form of chips. The carrots reconnect us with Holland giving the dish an orange color as a tribute to the Orange dynasty which defeated Spanish domination in the Netherlands. I tasted the chestnuts of the Val di Susa during one of my earliest visits to Piemonte. The Val di Susa remains one of my favorite places here and using their typical chestnuts was for me a small tribute to that magical place. The Roman cabbage? Well, it is the quintessence of perfection in nature! In this dish there is a little bit of me, a little bit of Italy, a bit of Piemonte and a bit of history from my country.