Who: Casper Westerveld
What: Restaurant Manager
What does your function entail?
I am involved with everything concerning the restaurant. I am present on each and every evening, from Tuesday till Saturday. You may see me as the host. My purpose is to make sure that all of our guests have a pleasant evening. An important part of my work, but also of my colleagues work, is to set an atmosphere in which all needs of our guests are met, while also deciding the tempo of our service. At the same time we make sure to enjoy our work, by drawing our guests into becoming a part of that feeling. I also have administrative responsibilities like coaching, and supervising the team.
How long have you been working here?
Almost 12 years. I worked at Amstel Hotel before, and started here in 2007. In 2008 Vinkeles opened, and we were awarded our first star in 2009. A great achievement; of course. But you see; this is not what drives me. A star is connected to a chef; for me what counts is having a full restaurant and making sure, each and every guest has a great evening – with or without a star.
How do you start your day?
I come in between 3.30 and 4.30 pm. I have a chat with the chef and I check my emails. I have a small overlap with regular office hours, in case I need to get something done, I do it at that time. After, I have dinner and the team comes in to start the mise en place. We polish the glasswork, iron the linen, lay down the couverts and we may taste a new dish with some wine. At 6.30 we have a briefing with the kitchen and all the staff, to discuss the evening ahead, and the good and bad points of the previous evening. The mood is relaxed and easy. Of course, if you know there is a wedding or a fully booked floor, you feel a certain pressure. Me for example, I always feel nervous at Christmas: even though we do our work just as any other day of the year. Just knowing that it is a special evening for everyone and seeing people all dressed up, makes me want things to be better than perfect. I have been working for 15 years at this level, but I still feel that excitement. Meaning that I care very much for my work.
What is the best moment of your evening?
When the guests pour in, it is the busiest moment and in some way the most crucial. You have a small window of opportunity, between the moment you welcome your guests and the moment they take a seat; to read what type of people they are and what they expect from the evening, so you can adapt your service accordingly. If you manage to do that well, you raise their evening from pleasant to perfect.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I work most evenings, so when I am free I spend time at home with my two children and my wife. I cook, we play games, I take the kids to sports. Sure, I like going out to restaurants, but there is something about being in your own home that no restaurant compares. What do I make? Stamppot. Or Sole Meuniere with fresh fries and a green salad. Or I might get oysters on a Sunday afternoon, with a glass of champagne… Perfect.