Farmers, simply by their proximity to the land, enjoy the sweetest, most flavourful produce. Offering diners a similar culinary experience is De Kas restaurant, just outside Amsterdam. All vegetables served here are prepared the same day they are harvested from the restaurant’s grounds.
The man behind this concept is chef Gert Jan Hageman. Two years after having earned Vermeer restaurant in Amsterdam one Michelin star in 1993, he took several years off to realise his dream of starting his own diner.
He launched De Kas in 2001 and, today, it serves 800 to 1,000 guests a week.
More than subscribing to the philosophy that food tastes best when it’s prepared with the freshest ingredients, Hageman takes an active role in ensuring that only just-picked produce appears on his tables.
He and his team grow and harvest their own Mediterranean vegetables, herbs and edible flowers in greenhouses and gardens nearby. A farm about 10km away supplies the restaurant with seasonal vegetables. Whatever it is unable to grow, it supplements with fresh ingredients purchased from local farmers.
Mirroring the idea behind its founding, De Kas is housed in a former municipal greenhouse that dates back to 1926. Despite the restaurant’s popularity, Hageman remains grounded, embodying in spirit the honest, down-to- earth fare he strives to serve.
He says: “I feel lucky to be the creator of a restaurant-nursery partnership. Our farmland is the basis of everything we do.”