Advertisements
annvanhalewyck@gmail.com All day - Every day

The People :: Sergio Herman

This creative mastermind doesn’t need any introduction.
But for those who don’t know him:
– Like what? Have you been sleeping under a stone last 8 years?!

Owner of Sergio Herman Hospitality Group
– Restaurant Oud Sluis ***, Restaurant Pure C *, Restaurant The Jane **, AirRepublic and AirCafe, Blueness and Frites Atelier.

Anyhow, working for this hospitality guru, taught me a lot!

5 take away’s from working for Sergio Herman: 

Be PASSIONATE

Working 16h a day is a LONG day. If you’re not motivated or passionate, you won’t survive. Would I do it all again – YES! without a doubt!
Working with a team that is fully committed and 200% passionate about the food and hospitality industry is mind blowing! It’s like a drug, including the addiction.
Everyday we pushed each other to be better, faster, harder, stronger.
I will never forget the passion of Nick and Sergio either.
The way they danced in the kitchen when everything was going smooth, how they could push everybody to their own limits – and beyond, the energy we could create as a team.
Until today, I still thrive on that. When I recreate the memory in my head, I can push my team to be on their A-game.

Learn from your MISTAKES

We were allowed to make mistakes.
As long as you only made them once and learned from it.
Every 6 to 8 weeks, Sergio would come up with a complete new menu.
Learning the new plates and all it’s ingredients was part of the job.
One of my first weeks, I was in the dining area, providing guests with water, bread, utensils. One of the servers was carrying the tray with plates for table 15. He asked me if I could serve them and explain it to the guests. It was the main course of the daily lunch menu. It was something with a fish and green sauce. I went back into the kitchen and asked what kind of fish it was so I could explain it to the guests.
The ‘This girl should never ever come into the kitchen again!’ made it pretty clear I had to study the menu and all it’s ingredients.
Believe me, from that point on, I always knew exactly what was on the plate, till every single detail, flower and herb.

Take care of your REGULARS

Your regular guests are most important for your business.
Consider them your husband or wife. You marry them and you promise to love them in good days and bad days. When everything is going well, they are happy but when it’s not, they’ll forgive you – most of the time. We had a large group of regular visitors. Some of them were annually, some quarterly, some even monthly. We kept their records, knew their favorite plates, their favorite table to sit on, their allergies and dietary wishes.
I made it my personal mission to get to know them all and to remember their last visit, what they looked like, what happened last time they were at the restaurant.
I can honestly say, my facial recognition skill is on point because of that!

Be CURIOUS

We were stimulated to grow – but only if you could train.
It creates leadership.
Whenever they changed stations in the kitchen or front of house, you had to train your successor. If he or she wasn’t able to cover the section by him/herself within 1 week, you would be going back to your old station.

Take care of your TEAM

We were respected and appreciated
Sergio wouldn’t always tell us, but we all knew.
If you take care of your people, your people will take care of your guests.
Your guests will take care of the business.
We had lunch and dinner every day in the restaurant, sometimes even breakfast if somebody showed up late. And on Friday’s, we had snack night.
We would make a cocktail – yay for Moscow Mules and Whiskey sours in buckets!- and one of the guys in the kitchen would make a snack.
If you came from abroad, it had to be something typical from your country.
That’s how I got the chance to eat Russian, Colombian, Fish and Chips in a wallpaper, Sushi, Kaiserschmarrn, apfelstrudl, ‘Kapsalon’ and duck rilletes from the ducks we went hunting for the week before.

Learn from the best, they reached the top for a reason.
I feel extremely blessed to have worked for Sergio Herman and would do it again if the opportunity came up. I am the person I am today partly because of him, his leadership and his creativity.

Xo – Ann

Advertisements

In memoriam: Oud Sluis *** (1)

In memoriam, because by the end of 2013, chef Sergio Herman decided to close the doors of this iconic restaurant in the South of The Netherlands.

3 Michelin Stars
20/20 in Gault Millau
Best restaurant in The Netherlands by Lekker Magazine
Top 20 in World’s 50 Best Restaurants

‘Always learn from the best.’
Another great lesson from my parents.
They are the best for a reason.

I still remember the first day I started working there.
It was somewhere in February 2010. It was a cold and rainy day.
But inside, there was an energy that could fuel hundreds of people.
I was asked to work a day with the team, to see how I would like it.

I felt like coming home. This was my dream, this was my energy.
High end hospitality, a team that ran like a well functioning machine, guests that were impressed every time you brought a new plate.
At the end of the day – around 1:30am- I sat down with Benjamin, the Maitre D to talk about my experience that day. Needless to say I would love to become part of this team!

There are too many great stories that I will share with you in the next couple blogs!
Stay tuned if you want to hear about the ‘Kissing Lips’, I-Foie or Chess board.
Hint: They were names of the plates!

Xo – Ann

Photo credit: www.foksuk.nl

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

House of Small Wonder

And be sure to be ‘wondered’.
One of those hidden places you wouldn’t notice passing by.
The fact it’s just a huge blank wall on the outside, is helping keeping the Instagram Influencers away.

Once you get inside, do make pictures of the huge tree growing in the middle.
Or is it the restaurant embracing the tree?

One of my co-workers was telling me about a trip to Japan he was planning.
And to get into the right setting, I invited him for breakfast here at House of Small Wonder.

My friend made me excited about going to Japan!
But for now, House of Small Wonder will do …

House of Small Wonder
77 N6th street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Photo credit: House of Small Wonder

21 Greenpoint – Colorfull neighborhood spot

First day of summer in New York asks for fun times out.
Preferably with great company – Thanks Alex! – and plenty of new spots to try out!

Ever played that game where you need to make combo’s of 4 cards?
Our cards of the day where: Barista – Sommelier – Beer enthusiastic – Food lover.
Think about it … and it was just the 2 of us! Can’t go wrong with that!

So ‘what about for dinner?’ led us to ’21 Greenpoint’.
Want to know where they got the name from?
It happens to be their address, simple as that!

Sitting at the counter or a table for 2?
Although it wasn’t really a date, we took that cute little side table for 2.

2 glasses of wine, bone marrow, watching the group of people sitting in front of us, enjoying the atmosphere, discovering that there is a whole back area, enjoying the passion in the open kitchen till using the -very spacious and colorful- bathroom.

The whole neighborhood comes together here.
They even invited Michelin one day – and Bill Murray too.
But that’s because of his son …

21 Greenpoint 
21 Greenpoint Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Photo credit: Open Table