"I ended up in this field because I had to pay for a scooter I managed to wreck. When I was fourteen, I began to work as a dishwasher in the kitchen of a brasserie. It was the first time I really enjoyed what I was doing. It really whet my appetite, not so much for cooking, but for the atmosphere in a kitchen. The hustle and bustle, the combination of rock 'n' roll and sophistication... It was all of these aspects combined that got me so excited.
The Jane began as a simple, low-threshold brasserie concept, but has gradually reverted back to offering a gastronomic fine dining experience. For the first year and a half, I didn't feel like we were providing a culinary experience worthy of attention. Everyone expected us to take it to the next level, even though we already had a great concept with our 85-euro menu. We received plenty of attention, but it did not feel justified. This was something I struggled with. So I started focusing on creating a genuine culinary experience. I think that the ambiance in the restaurant also demanded this.
At the end of that year and a half, the restaurant had become a lot more stable. I hired more staff and worked in a more structured manner. Even though it is a big business, it now has a sense of calmness about it.
My greatest passion is making people happy. This is what drives everything I do. If my essence is my motivation, that means always wanting to please and bring enjoyment to my guests. I want to give people an experience to remember. I am also a perfectionist by nature. Once I start something, I will not stop until it is finished. I continue working until I feel that it has improved.
Even today, there are plenty of things I feel uncertain about. But I have learned that some things simply need time to grow. I no longer think in terms of days, but months and even longer. I say to myself, 'I want to achieve this within a year' and 'I want to have accomplished this by then'. This calms my uncertainty.
I run The Jane together with Sergio Herman. Sergio is a business partner who not only has complete confidence in me, but also gives me the freedom to give the business my own personal touch. He gives me plenty of space and if I need any support, he is always ready to help out. A third Michelin star is not a concrete goal of mine. I simply want to become a better chef and develop further as an entrepreneur, not only in this restaurant, but also in other business ventures. For example, I also have a street food truck that parks up at festivals, where I serve spareribs and marinated chicken. As a chef, I also find this to be quite a challenge. There is more to the culinary world than caviar and foie gras.
We have an intense business with 20 chefs from around the world. This makes chefwear quite a complicated issue. It has always been a mish-mash, not only here but also at Oud Sluis. We always had blue aprons alongside black aprons alongside grey aprons. Together with Chaud Devant, we have now created a uniform look for the first time. We have an attractive logo on the back, our own jacket, nice sneakers and fitted trousers. The chef jacket was designed especially for us. It has a serene look and feel to it, with a simple, Japanese-inspired design. I wanted something more modern and sleek that expresses that we are a tight-knit team."