Becoming the student …

And so it went on … I was going to learn about the restaurant industry in one of the major hospitality schools in Belgium:
Hotel and Tourism School Spermalie in Bruges.

Since the school was about 1 hour away from my home town, my parents sent me off to their boarding school.

Want to know how to create a routine? Boarding school.
Or how to decide what to wear every day? Strict uniform policy takes care of that.
How to serve guests and how to behave like a guest yourself? Daily meals in the school restaurants.

It all sounds like a military drill but to be honest, I would do it all over again and most likely send my kids too.
Besides all the ins and outs of the industry, I also gained major life experience.
Some of them are still in use today.

“I still need to hear the story about that super model that was discovered in her yoga pants!” Yep, teachers can be very persuasive when it comes to uniform standards!

They say your time is school is the best time of your life …
I wouldn’t call it that way, but I sure am cheering for their education program!

Xo – Ann

Photo credit: Pinterest
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The People :: Mom and Dad …

If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be alive today.

And I feel so blessed with them!
When I said: Mom, one day, I want to have my own restaurant, my mom said: That’s fine Ann. Let’s find you the best school to learn about that!

One of the things I learned from my mom and dad was: You buy bread at the bakery, meat is coming from the butcher. If you jump on your bike and take a ride around the farms, you will see how wheat grows, how apples grow on trees and that fruit and vegetables come with the seasons.

Quality over quantity.
My mom raised 4 kids – practically by herself while my dad was working in his own company. The time spend together was invaluable for us. Quality over Quantity.

They really shaped me into the person I am today.
I guess you can say I inherited my mom’s nomad soul.
Always wandering, always on for a new adventure.
She took us to the Zoo, to the beach, on the train, to gym classes and recital.

My dad taught me, and made me understand, how working hard pays the bills.
Yet, they made it a priority to share a meal at the dinner table – sometimes 3 times a day, together as a family.

Mom, dad, Thank you for all you’ve done for us.

Xo – Ann

Photo credit – Pinterest

It always starts with a dream …

I remember being a kid.
Everything was so much easier back then!

My uncle had a restaurant and every once in a while, my mom would take us out for dinner at his place. There was a bouncy house, the most exciting kids menu, a little playground and a huge parking lot!
But the best part of our visit was always going to say hi in the kitchen.

Nobody else was allowed there.
How cool were we?!

I was 7 years old but I knew then and there that one day, I would have my own restaurant. I just decided that running a restaurant would be my dream, my goal, my purpose.
I would step into the footsteps of my Godfather and make people happy!

Thank you Omen (Uncle) Eric, for lighting a fire that – until today, is still burning inside of me!

Xo – Ann

Start with the beginning …

Today, I made the decision to start my own business.
I feel like I’m ready for it.
It scares the hell out of me, because are we ever just ready?
I’m starting my own Hospitality Costumer Service Consultancy.

How did I get to this? That has been quite a ride.
A ride that I will be sharing with you, here online.

Start with the beginning …
Because the Hosted By Ann blog will be the beginning of something new and exciting!

So hop on board, join the movement,
Start the change, be the change!

And let’s start creating possibilities together!

Xo – Ann

Sasabune – Where you won’t find Californian Rolls

When I was a kid, my mom and dad made it possible to have breakfast and dinner together as a family. All around the table. As my dad had his own company, some days he would come home for lunch as well. Food and sharing a meal is something I learned from the very beginning. It’s about making time for each other, to come together, listen to each others stories and checking in with each other.

When I moved to The Netherlands and I bought a house with my boyfriend, I only had 1 requirement: I wanted a huge table in the kitchen with at least space for 8 people to sit. Both of us came from a family with 4 brothers and sisters so having the option to invite all of them them over for dinner at our place was most important for me.

Since I moved to New York, I discovered so many other different eating cultures. The one that amazes me the most is the Japanese culture. It’s very much focussed on the quality of the food, the presentation and the hospitality.

Last week, a friend of mine invited me over for dinner and took me to Sasabune in the Upper East Side. Never heard about it before. Doesn’t show much of fuss out on the street either. The only sign they had: We don’t serve Californian Rolls, trust me.

Whenever I go to a classic Japanse restaurant, it strikes me they never have music in the back ground. But that doesn’t mean the experience isn’t on point!
We were welcomed with the most generous Japanse hospitality you can imagine and decided to sit in the back area.

We choose from the a la carte menu what basically really just sushi is supposed to be. Raw fish with rice.
Tuna, uni, miso black cod, river eel, horse mackerel, fluke, red snapper, scallop,…

Forget about those ‘All you can eat-sushi’ places.
If you want to eat real sushi, go to Sasabune!

Sasabune NY
401 E73rd street
New York, NY 10021

Photo credit: Sasabune 

Colonie – You can decide which neighborhood you’re in …

I spend my first summer in New York mostly in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
With a full view of downtown Manhattan’s skyline, plenty of lawns, a little beach and multiple hide out benches, it’s the perfect place to unwind, relax, wander or people-watching.

Maybe I should write some posts on all the great things that happened to me so far at this park? – Keep going, we’re all ears!

Anyhow, after one of my days at the park, I wasn’t really in the mood for cooking at home. – Reading all those reviews, you wouldn’t think I’d actually know how to cook at home, would you? So I was walking home and stumbled upon Colonie. Oysters and pasta on the menu, fun people inside, a bar, planters on the wall… Yeah, found my dinner spot I guess!

Ever since that first time, I’ve been visiting Colonie on many occasions. With Mr. P., with P&C – my ‘NYC-parents’ for brunch, with I. to catch up on our friendship. The vibe is lively, food simple American but always on point. Can’t remember a single time when I didn’t have a good experience at Colonie.

And since Hospitality is keeping me alive in New York, I know I can always get my free shot here!

Colonie
127 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Photo credit: Colonie

Ukiyo – New Rising Star in Food Heaven

‘If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere,
It’s up to you, New York, New York’
That’s what Frank Sinatra sang couple decades ago.

So when you hear that a dear friend and old co-worker is the new chef of this new restaurant, there is no reason not to visit the place!

I’ve known Marco since we worked together at Oud Sluis (***) in The Netherlands.
Besides that we worked together, we also connected very well personally.
My ex-boyfriend and his ex-girlfriend covered the wine section in the restaurant so there were often weekends and/or holidays we would spend with the 4 of us learning, tasting, eating and enjoying life.

And it was such a pleasure seeing Marco doing his thing here in New York!
With an 18 seat counter, every guest has full exposure to what happens in Marco’s domaine. He brings a lot of knowledge from all around the world onto his plates.

So if you mix the delicate flavors of Zeeland with the exuberant lifestyle of Belgium, you add couple Japanese influences and some culinary memories, there is nothing missing in this eclectic cocktail of great hospitality!

Be adventurous and let Marco lead the way.
It will take you to flavors you didn’t even know existed!

Ukiyo
239 E5th street
New York, NY 10003

Photo credit: Ukiyo 

Maison Premiere – Keeping it raw

Working in high end restaurants has it’s perks.
Yes, I know, the pressure of delivering constant high quality service can be challenging.
On the other hand, it creates a bond between the team that can be extremely strong.
So when I made the decision to come to New York, couple of those friends took that as an opportunity to visit me and obviously discover the ‘next-best-places’ to eat in New York.

Finding those new exciting places takes time and a feel for quality.
There isn’t a formula that will tell you: If you do this, put this on your menu, put those plants on the table and hire only young girls with tattoos, you will be successful.

You need to have a great concept, and that’s exactly what they had at Maison Premiere.
So when a bunch of us old co-workers decided to try the ‘raw-bar-Sunday-Brunch’, we went for the complete experience!

I agree, sitting at the bar is fun when it’s just the 2 of you.
With 6 people, logistically not the best choice.
But that was the only place where we could order the complete set of oysters, uni’s and clams! And be sure they have A.LOT!

But even if you’re not a party of 6, I would still choose a seat at the bar.
It’s just so much more easier checking out the bartenders!

Go and enjoy!

Maison Premiere
298 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Photo credit: restaurantgirl.com

Tetsu – it’s not Masa

Every Spring I get really excited!
New season! Yay!
Great for fashion lovers, flora enthusiasts and beach addicts!
It’s when they all prepare for summer time! Even the city does!

Not that I am a fashion lover – I do appreciate nice summer dresses though.
I’m more preparing for my friend Mr. P. to come back to New York!
After a long, cold winter, it’s always such a pleasure seeing him again.

So when I got his text:
Hi Foodie Friend, Back in the City,
Where to go for our ‘Welcome, Happy-to-be-back-in-NYC’ dinner? Let me know!
I got all excited and pulled up my hit-list!

The exact same week as I got this text, a friend of mine told me he had applied for a new job at this amazing Japanese neighborhood restaurant called Tetsu.
I had never heard about it, but did some research and made a reservation.

You know, New York is a city full of opportunities, where it’s great to share idea’s, concepts and experiences. And that’s exactly what we did at Tetsu.
We shared our food – YAY! Wagyu ragout! – had a nice bottle of wine, caught up on life and where amazed by their goat cheese cheese cake.

A place like Tetsu will make you happy.
And that’s more then enough reason to go!

Tetsu
78 Leonard Street
New York, NY 10013

Photo Credit: Dacia Pierson for Tetsu

Momofuku Noodle Bar

Quite some time ago, I ran into this cute guy.
Happens in New York.
He was fun to spend time with and he lived in East Village.
He also showed me some great Asian spots but none of them could match up my all time favorite around his corner: Momofuku Noodle Bar.

I can’t even remember the amount of times I’ve had their Ramen Bowl.
It’s really that good and worth the trip.
Even if you’re coming from the Upper East Side after cheering for runners of NYC Marathon.

Or if you want to impress your date or a friend who has never had noodles before.
You have got to set high standards. Always.

And no, you don’t need to be seeing a cute guy to enjoy the experience of their hospitality, you’re more then welcome by yourself too.
Ask for a seat at the counter and take a glimpse of what happens in the kitchen!

But even if none of the above matches yours, just go.
You won’t regret it!

Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Photo credit: Momofuku Noodle Bar