Chef Name: Stefan van Sprang
Title: Patron-Cuisinier of Restaurant Aan de Poel.
When we opened Aan de Poel almost ten years ago we received a Michelin star within a year. A few years later we received our second Michelin star and have retained that ever since. This October, Aan de Poel celebrates its tenth anniversary and, needless to say, we’re quite proud of that.
How old were you when you started cooking professionally?
I was 17 years old when I started. I started out at Maison van den Boer, a big catering group, and afterwards I joined the kitchen of Cas Spijkers, my biggest idol, who sadly passed away in 2011.
What’s your earliest and fondest first memory of food?
My father owned a delicacy shop in Tilburg. He was selling homemade pâtés and freshly burnt pecan nuts. Oh the smell… The pecan nuts are still one of my ten favourite things to use in the kitchen.
Which chefs inspire you most and why?
There are actually two. The first one is Sergio Herman, from restaurants like The Jane, AIRrepublic, and his former three star restaurant Oud Sluis (now closed). I really admire his drive and passion. The second one is Mr Heston Blumenthal. His knowledge is off the chain.
What are your two favourite cookbooks and why?
On one hand, a true classic and a bit of an old-school one – Michel Bras. On the other hand, I have a book of the Kaiseki cuisine of Kyoto’s Kikunoi, Japanese fine dining, which is quite inspiring as well.
At Aan de Poel we have just released our second cookbook, more of an inspirational book actually, not too much text, but beautiful dishes and photography instead. We only made 2000, and all are hand-signed by me, my own ‘signature’ so to speak.
Which two ingredients could you not live without?
Without a doubt, langoustines and lime. Langoustines are on my menu every single month, without exception. Lime we also tend to use a lot: grated or juiced. They can sometimes lift up a dish to an entirely different level.
What is your favourite comfort food to cook at home?
That would definitely be a panini sandwich with blue cheese and apple.
If you could eat at any Michelin star restaurant in the world today, where would it be and why?
I would love to go to Maaemo from Esben Holmboe Bang in Oslo, Norway. I really like the Nordic style of cuisine and the guys at Maaemo really know their stuff.
And who would you take as your guest?
I would take my wife! She also loves fine dining, so she’s chosen the right guy, haha. We often take trips abroad to eat in renowned restaurants and hidden gems.
What do you look for in a good chef?
A good chef has to be a team player. In my restaurant it’s very important that someone fits in the team. It’s a tough job to stay focused all the time, but if you feel like you are in your place at Aan de Poel you will perform better, and this will result in a better experience for our guests.
Chef Stefan van Sprang is Patron-Chef of Restaurant Aan de Poel.
Telephone: +31 20 345 17 63
Address: Handweg 1, 1185 TS Amstelveen, Netherlands.