Creating your comfort zone

Everyday I came home full of new idea’s, new inputs and new experiences.
I had to channel all this new information into something I could work with and build on.
My room was the perfect place to unwind and to let all those new impressions sink in.

On the wall, I posted a large map of New York.
I made small arrows that I placed on the area’s, parks, restaurants, coffee bars I went to that day.
Around that, I had a blackboard where I wrote key words that mattered to me, that represented me. With every word I listed, I asked myself: What does this word mean to me? How does it affect my daily life? What do I do on a daily basis to incorporate this feeling? Why does it make me happy? What about it makes me happy?

Besides all that, I had a whole bunch of books about New York, yoga and mindfulness.
They were all displayed on my shelves.
While being home, I loved listening to some music.

Creativity and curiosity turned out to be two of my core values.
Whenever I’m around any of those, I feel safe, comfortable.
I’m able to turn idea’s into action.

What are your core values?
Have you found them yet?
Let’s go look for them!

Xo – Ann

New York (4) – Creating a new life …

So then here we are…
I didn’t have a plan but to make sure I could accomplish all the crazy things I had in mind, I had to create some kind of structure.

I had to design a routine for myself.
You’re more productive in the morning so waking up early was the perfect start of an active day ahead.
I downloaded the 7 minute work out app on my phone and made it a habit of doing my daily work out before breakfast.

Granola parfait with fresh fruit, blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs with tomato and mushrooms. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
Nowadays, I usually pick up a coffee and croissant on my way to work, however, it’s such a nice thing to do for yourself, taking the time to really start the day.

I started to read a lot as well. Mainly about the city. After a while, I changed to mindfulness and how to create a productive and happy life for yourself.
Investing in myself, away from everything else, was the best decision I made so far in my life.

I left the house around 10 am to go check out a new neighborhood, museum or park.
Always with a couple books in my bag, a cup of fresh fruit salad and a bottle of water.
Around 4pm I would either start looking for a place for dinner or heading back for a home cooked meal and some Gossip Girl. Depending on the day, I would check out a nice cocktailbar or do some more reading.

Doing things by yourself makes you more aware of your surroundings and the energy around you. It can be scary at first but once you break through that feeling, life becomes so much more exciting.
New York is a city build on ambition and opportunities.
But you’ll have to go get them for yourself…

Xo – Ann

Oud Sluis (3) – What’s in a name …

Creative minds are always looking for the next best thing.
And let that be one of Sergio’s strengths.

Every 6 to 8 weeks we would have a complete new menu.
Sergio wanted to keep things exciting.
Not only for himself or the team, but also for the guests.
In the beginning, the plates were combinations of seasonal vegetables and the best ingredients the region had to offer.
Think langoustines, crab or lobster with celery, carrots, beets and apple.
Not all in 1 plate though!

After a while, I started to notice a shift in the way Sergio created new plates.
They became a live version of a memory.
Either from his childhood or a trip he had recently made.
Then I remembered something I had overheard in a kitchen one day.

‘Good chefs will get their inspiration from other chefs.
Great chef get their idea’s from anything but other chefs.
They have mastered the skill to bring a memory alive.’ 

Kill me because I don’t know who to quote but I can tell you that Sergio was part of that last group.
Every time a new menu would be presented, we’d all be saying:
‘This is even better then the last menu. It can’t get any better.’
Until 8 weeks later, a complete new menu would go live!

Sergio knew exactly how to re-invent his kitchen, style and flavors every single time.
Some of the plates would even have names!
Just to list some of his creations:
The IFoie: foie gras with apple and red vinegar jelly, in the shape of the Apple logo.
The Rocks: a chocolate dessert with galangal in the shape of Es Vedra, a rock off the coast in Ibiza.
Kissing Lips: Cherry mouse with chocolate in the shape of kissing lips.

In his last year, he started to collaborate with other artists to create new menu’s.
He worked together with, inter alia, tattoo artist Henk Schiffmacher, DJ Sander Kleinberg, art and design duo Studio Job and Belgian artist Sophie Lachaert.

I can only imagine what it must have looked like from a guests perspective.
Food photographer Tony Le Duc did an amazing job securing his legacy in several books.

But from a team members perspective: it opens your mind and makes you curious about other crafts in the creative industry.
It also makes you humble because of the many opportunities we had to learn about them.
We had high quality produce available, every single day.
That’s a scarcity in many industries but it became our privilege.

Working in fine dining hospitality industry is so much more then just serving a plate.
It’s creating a memory, an experience.
One that people hope to recreate to find happiness.

If there would ever be a plate with the name HAPPINESS,
I’m sure it would be coming from Sergio’s hands!

Xo – Ann

Photo credit – Tony Le Duc