Restaurant Manager at Vinkeles
Could you tell us a bit about how you joined the Dylan team?
I worked as a Restaurant Manager at Bussia for more than 5 years, which is a high-end Italian restaurant around the corner. I then felt I had to go on an adventure and worked the last 10 months for Peter Gilmore in Australia. Only recently I joined the Dylan as a restaurant manager, and I enjoy every moment here. That is mainly because I get plenty of freedom to shape Vinkeles in a certain direction.
And how do you do that?
I have no intention to make big changes, but I do want to add a sense of warmth to our service. That means making sure that guests feel at home at Vinkeles.
Why would you like to focus on this sense of home feeling?
It is probably because of my Surinamese background. Food and hospitality have a major stake in the Surinamese culture. If you ever have the chance to visit a family, party or social gathering in Surinam, I am quite sure that you will be received as the lost son or daughter. The social distances are much closer compared to western society.
And food, oh the food! Food is everything in Surinam. The Dutch are usually a bit surprised by our heart for food. When my Dutch friends visit my family, they are overwhelmed by the many portions that are served. Do you know why? Because the Dutch are taught to always finish their plate, but in Surinam, this means that you get a new portion. Refusing is not an option…
What does your job entail exactly?
I lead the service at Vinkeles and report to our Operational Manager about everything that happens in the restaurant. I usually enter between 3 and 6 pm, meet with the chef, check my email and go through the reservations. We then prepare the restaurant and do the final briefing before we start the service.
And to what extent are you a leader in that process?
Well, we are a small team with experienced members so during the service I am mostly occupied with our guests. Before we start the service, I am available to help the team with anything they need. I always like to say that everything is discussable before 7 pm. From that time onwards it’s showtime and we should leave all our personal lives outside.
You’ve only started recently but is there any topic you would like to focus on the coming months?
First of all, I would like to become the manager of this restaurant, making sure that Tiffany and Vinkeles become one entity. Other than that, I would like to learn more about Amsterdam and its hospitality since I’ve been away for almost a year. I go out for dinner and drinks nearly two days a week to make sure that I understand what this city has to offer. I call it professional research…
Is there anything else that you would classify as the secret to great service?
It’s all about empathising with your guests. You need to read them and determine whether they would like to be left in peace, are in need of a quick chat or want an extensive story about the menu. Cultural differences play a role in that. The difference between for example a Russian, American or Asian guest is huge.
What makes the Dylan different compared to other hotels?
The Dylan is a small hotel and that is why the whole team feels like a family with a lot of solidarity and respect. There are plenty of hotels where the staff tries to develop their career at the expense of colleagues. That would never happen here.
What shouldn’t we miss for dinner at Vinkeles?
First of all, you shouldn’t miss our beautiful appetizer of cucumber, sea bass and frozen tzatziki. It’s a stunning combination of the salted fish, the cold tzatziki and crispy cucumber merengue. It’s the last appetizer before our guests receive the menu and really builds up the excitement, increasing the expectations of the menu.
I can also recommend our dish with nothing but asparagus, ham and cheese. Now you might think, how good that could be? But the cheese is Parmigiano Reggiano Vache Rouge, the ham is Jamon Iberico Bellota Guijuelo Admiracion and the asparagus from Brabant are of unparalleled quality. That philosophy – of allowing the ingredients to shine on their own – is what makes this dish so good and so Vinkeles.
Anything else you are excited about except food?
A massage! I try to take one every month at Koan Float and always feel reborn after a 1.5-hour therapy. It’s so good.
If you had to take our hotel guests into Amsterdam, to which places would you go?
I would start at Bakers & Roaster because they serve breakfast with mimosas. Then we would just grab a bike, cruise through the city and settle on a terrace. Every bar or café in the city usually offers a good place outside, a local beer and our favourite snack: the bitterbal.
Any terrace in particular?
Honestly? Nothing beats our very own inner garden at the Dylan, haha.