During the recent summer break of Restaurant Vinkeles I was given the opportunity to take on an internship at a very special two Michelin star Restaurant in the most Southern part of Spain, Aponiente in Santa Maria.

The main reason for choosing this specific restaurant for an internship was “Plancton Marino Veta la Palma”, also known as Plankton. “Plancton Marino Veta la Palma” is a unique and exclusive product that has only recently made its debut in the culinary world. With the use of Plankton, we are able to improve recipes by adding a powerful concentrated flavor of the sea to our dishes. An additional benefit is that Plankton is 100% vegetarian and even guests with a shellfish or vis allergy are able to enjoy it.

My first day at the internship started on a Tuesday at 8:30 AM. I arrived at the beautiful building where the restaurant was situated, which is actually an old 19th-century tide mill.

Not short after that I started working in the kitchen, a few Spanish customs drew my attention immediately. I had never worked in Southern Europe before and I noticed that they are very passionate professionals. Everyone enforces their words with hand gestures and everything comes directly from the heart.

During my first day, I noticed that the pressure in the kitchen was high. Every day we started at 6 AM and the day ended at 1 AM, we were pushed to excel to our highest level.  A day in the life of chef at Aponiente starts at 6 AM, at 7 AM we had our first break with a Danish pastry and some coffee, at 12 PM the whole team had a hot meal and at 6:15 PM there was a 30-minute break to have a shower and freshen up for the Dinner Service.

These two weeks were educational, though, a lot of fun but overall, they were enough! I can’t wait to start again in Restaurant Vinkeles after the Summer break and bring all this new inspiration, knowledge and experience into practice.

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Jurgen van der Zalm Chef-de-Cuisine, Vinkeles