Vegetarian and vegan cuisine is not always popular with chefs, as it requires considerable research and offers limited options. "Three years ago, I noticed that it had become a source of irritation for many of the chefs in my area when yet another vegetarian order was placed," explains chef Friedjof Kempenaar from Rotterdam, the Netherlands. "They were not particularly interested. On the other hand, I knew lots of vegetarians who often complained that they were appeased with a goats cheese salad far too often." So Friedjof opened a series of pop-up restaurants where he could offer vegans a genuine culinary experience. His next restaurant will open in The Hague, the Netherlands, this fall!
Café Sage is one of the few restaurants in Amsterdam that is 100% vegetarian. "As far as vegetarian and vegan menus are concerned, Amsterdam has a lot of catching up to do," says owner Karianne Kraaijestein. "The latest developments originate from California, Australia and Bali. I think even Berlin has more vegetarian restaurants than Amsterdam."
Even at the higher level, it seems difficult to be successful in this area. British chef Chris Naylor from Vermeer* uses lots of vegetables, but the restaurant is not fully vegetarian. "The reason is that it's extremely intense work," says Chris. "When you make a meal at home, what takes the most time? Frying a piece of meat? Or peeling potatoes, shelling beans, etc.? That’s the work. Forgotten vegetables are forgotten because they're a pain in the ass.”
Vegetarian and vegan cuisine may appear to be more complicated, but it is more than just a trend and it looks like it is here to stay. Friedjof continues, "I initially thought that vegans were not a major target group, but when I delved deeper, it turned out to be quite a large one. And it is growing all the time." The vegetarians are out there, and now it's time for the restaurants to follow suit.