Keeping calm in the heart of Amsterdam
HET GROENE PALEIS, AMSTERDAM
Right in the centre of Amsterdam you’ll find restaurant Het Groene Paleis. Chef Robert Hoffman never ceases to be amazed by the amount of people lining up in front of his door. Serving his guests a high-quality meal in a foreseeable time is a matter of keeping calm and making smart choices every day.
For a long time, Robert Hoffman thought he was not fit to be a chef. He has been approached several times for managerial positions in professional kitchens, but always held off. “I was happy the way things were. And to be honest: I also doubted whether I could do it. Even here at Het Groene Paleis, I turned down the position several times. Until two years ago. And last year was the best year ever for the business here.”
Het Groene Paleis, a stylish bar and tasteful restaurant with another six rooms upstairs and a large terrace outside, is located on the renovated and bustling Rokin street in the heart of Amsterdam. The menu is substantial and stays the same throughout the day; no distinction is made between lunch or dinner. “Because of the large number of guests we welcome here every day, we have to make smart choices. The menu provides something for everyone and at every moment of the day, and everything can be served quite quickly. We welcome a lot of tourists, who often choose dishes they are already familiar with. That is why, for example, our tomato soup is very popular: it’s everyone’s favourite. We make it from the best tomatoes and with Debic’s cooking cream: that’s how you get the perfect base. Our Flammkuchen and pizzas also do very well. I have the pizza bases made by a real Italian. Because of the sauce we put on it and the other ingredients, we give it our own twist.”
Buying semi-finished products is not something you should be ashamed of as a chef, Hoffman says. “We have to make smart choices, as I said: on the one hand because of time constraints, on the other because of the lack of available chefs. People sometimes throng at the door waiting for a table to become vacant. In that case, you want to minimise complicated operations on a plate and serve a high-quality dish as quickly as possible. That is why I look for high-quality semi-finished products such as Debic desserts or cooking cream. Debic Culinaire Original is a very good cream to work with: it saves a lot of time and is always constant, giving a stable end product. It gives me peace of mind to know that I no longer have to check every dish. My kitchen staff only have to finish some dishes; I no longer have to worry about that.”
Hoffman mentions another advantage of sourcing semi-finished products. “HACCP inspections, for example, have become strict. If I make my own pesto or humus, I have to stock a lot of ingredients and I can’t properly prove how long the finished product has been there or what exactly is in it. If I work with purchased products, I only have one package in the refrigerator, with all the information neatly listed on it.”
"Debic Culinaire Original is a very good cream to work with: it saves a lot of time and is always constant."
HET GROENE PALEIS, AMSTERDAM
In times of big rushes such as the summer or Christmas holidays, Hoffman pulls out all the stops to push his team to the limit. “It has become impossible to work à la carte. That’s why we cook soup in eighty-litre kettles and freeze it, to be kept warm au bain-marie later. Then it’s just a matter of ladling and serving. I want to make everything in the kitchen as easy as possible, so that nobody gets too stressed out. I want a stable kitchen team where everyone feels good. That is why I accept that guys want to smoke a cigarette
- Buy a lot of a product when it is on sale (and has a good shelf life) at your wholesaler or supplier.
- Take photos of a preparation so everyone in the kitchen can make the dish.
- Choose high-quality semi-finished products that you can fully endorse and give them your own twist and finishing touches with just a few actions.