Chef Name: Jules Wiringa
Title: Owner & Content Creator for Jules Cooking
Awards: Jan 2017 Winner, Gouden Koksmuts (Golden Chef’s Hat)
How old were you when you started cooking professionally?
I started working in small kitchens at a young age, and when I was 15 I made my very first Jules Cooking video. In that same year I had my first experience in a Michelin Star restaurant, and not just any – it was the restaurant Oud Sluis, at that time the best restaurant in the Netherlands, awarded with 3 Michelin stars. I did a short internship there for school, but from that day on I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life – cook.
What’s your earliest and fondest first memory of food?
My earliest and one of my favourite memories must be watching my father making pasta. We were on holiday in France, and it was the perfect evening. I was so hungry, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my father’s cooking it’s that good things take time. It was a simple pasta – a fresh garlic tomato sauce with spaghetti and some bread. My father was drinking a nice wine and I sneaked into the kitchen to take a little sip. It was a heavy red and my only thought was that I couldn’t understand why he liked it so much; nowadays I definitely know better. In my mind, it felt like it took hours for the pasta to cook, and I could only drool at the amazing smells coming from the kitchen. Once the pasta was finally served, I enjoyed every single bite, and like every chef I know, I finished it by wiping the plate clean with bread.
Which chefs inspire you most and why?
When I did my short internship at the restaurant Oud Sluis, Nick Bril was the head chef. I was only 15 when I met Chef Bril, but I was blown away. The way he saw everything – not only in the kitchen, but also in the restaurant – it was incredible. I was already interested in cooking professionally, but he’s the one who got me hooked for life and wanting to strive for perfection.
I’ve also always been a big fan of Gordon Ramsay. He’s my all-time hero. When I was a student I was fascinated by his cooking, and now that I’m a bit older I love the person that he has become too – being a family guy and a hospitality legend.
What are your two favourite cookbooks and why?
I find this so hard to answer… I’m really not sure, because I don’t have a favourite.
When I was a young chef I loved searching for old and first-edition cookbooks from legends like Bocuse, Escoffier, Marco Pierre White, etc.
I’m actually writing my first book at the moment, and I can’t wait to publish it.
Which two ingredients could you not live without?
The first one has to be citrus. I love using it on everything. I absolutely hate heavy and full-fat dishes. Every now and then I’m open to them, but after a couple of bites I’m always so full. That’s why most of my dishes are fresh and vibrant; you are left wanting more.
The second one is artichokes. One of my favourite childhood memories is when my family and I walked into an Italian market and a couple of elderly ladies were cleaning artichokes. I was so mesmerised with that process. I brought one back home and cut it in half. All those colourful layers, and then the flavour – I was blown away. Even now I’m still amazed by the flavour, and I will always order them wherever I see them on a menu. I also love Jerusalem artichokes.
What is your favourite comfort food to cook at home?
I love making risotto, Tom Kha Kai, pizza in our outdoor pizza oven, or my famous salt baked celeriac wellington.
If you could eat at any Michelin star restaurant in the world today, where would it be and why?
I would love to have dinner at El Celler de Can Roca, I think that would be an amazing experience, and I always love watching anything with Jordi Roca.
And who would you take as your guest?
That has to be my fiancé. The downside of working online is that you’re working all the time. Back when I was working in the kitchen, I also worked quite a lot, but now that I’m my own boss it’s really a 24/7 thing. Nothing to complain about though, I love every single bit of it. But going out to dinner is really our thing, and it’s a time we can really be together.
What do you look for in a good chef?
A good chef needs a good attitude and motivation. When you’re open-minded you can learn anything, but nowadays that’s a pretty hard thing to find.
What advice would you give to chefs starting their career paths now?
- Invest in your future! It can be rough earning little money while doing internships or working as a student – I did it for seven years, but it was really worth it.
- Write everything down, knowledge is key.
- Stay humble, there’s no place for an arrogant chef. First focus on your own work and make it perfect.
- Don’t forget to give yourself some credit. The industry can be very harsh, and you’ll need to give it 100% if you want to make it.
- This might sound strange, but learn from other people’s mistakes, so that you don’t need to make them.
- Challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone.
- Never be ashamed, it’s okay if you don’t know something. Just ask and improve your knowledge.
How has the pandemic affected your restaurant? And how did you adapt and evolve throughout?
When the pandemic started, I had just switched jobs and I’d only worked at my new place for a month. The whole thing was so strange and new to everybody. We started doing takeaways, and I recorded tutorials so that people could easily reheat and plate the dishes at home, just like in the restaurant. Because of the pandemic I also had some additional time to focus more on making my YouTube videos. I noticed that many students and chefs were standing still and looking for a challenge and more knowledge. That was the first reason why I started making my YouTube videos again – to inspire and educate others.
Can you share any wisdom from the experience so far with others? Have you changed? Has your cooking changed?
Since September last year I’ve been focusing full-time on making cooking content. It’s such a different life and I’m still adjusting every day. I do miss cooking in a restaurant but I love my new journey so far. I think the pandemic has brought the whole industry closer together, and more chefs are open to sharing knowledge in order to help and inspire others.
Chef Jules Wiringa is owner of Jules Cooking