de culinaire werkplaats // Amsterdam
If you are after a truly unique experience, you should think about booking a weekend trip to Amsterdam including a dinner at de culinaire werkplaats. Marjolein Wintjes and Eric Meursing launched this artistic food laboratory in 2009. On Friday and Saturday evenings it opens for dinner guests. Around 35 is the maximum capacity and reserving in advance highly recommended. The setting of the place is very informal, with people helping themselves with the bottles of wine placed on the counter and taking their empty plates back to the kitchen. But that alone isn’t of course what makes de culinaire werkplaats so very special. It is what’s happening on the plates, and that has little to do with what you know from any other restaurant. Marjolein’s and Eric’s intention is to invite people to shake up their culinary lifestyle, and to develop innovative concepts for what the dinner plate of the future will be like.
The monthly changing menus called ‘eat’inspirations’ are amazingly beautiful design works, delicate pieces of art looking almost too precious to take a bite. Each eat’inspiration – 5 courses consisting of an eat’cocktail, 2 savoury and 2 sweet dishes – is the interpretation of a specific theme. That can be a journey, an architectural concept, a landscape, a point of discussion like ‘Design Matters?’ or ‘Water – the new Champagne?’, or simply a colour. The very first eat’inspiration Marjolein and Eric created was called ‘The hidden talents of BLACK’, starring black potatoes, black tomatoes, black noodles, black quinoa, black marbled eggs and black summer fruit. Out of that an entire black collection did arise, with articles like black sesame pesto, blackberry jam, black salt and black mushroom coquettes, to name just a few, that can be bought from de culinaire werkplaats shop and soon also online.
Both, Marjolein and Eric, come from a multidisciplinary background. What they have in common is a professional track record in design, Eric in 3D design and Marjolein in fashion. Over the last couple of years they have shifted their focus to various kinds of food projects. For this year’s Amsterdam Fashion Week for example they have created an edible wedding dress made from rhubarb fabrics, all organic and locally produced. Before that, they had crafted paper from vegetable and fruit fibres. Where it comes to our food culture, they are convinced that meat and fish will become much less dominant in the future compared to today. Consequently, their eat’inspirations are composed only of vegetables, fruit and cereals for now. Fish and meat aren’t explicitly banned from the menu, they simply haven’t used any yet, but that shouldn’t be seen as a commitment for the future.
What does play a major role in the work of de culinaire werkplaats‘ are sustainability and consciousness about the ecosystem: Sticking something into our mouth means making a choice that affects not only our own body but also other people, animals and the environment. Food is more than fuel for our body as Marjolein puts it, and the idea is to develop a new way of eating and being more mindful about food and taste. But no worries: Marjolain’s and Eric’s approach has nothing moralizing or dogmatic. It’s experimental, artistic, and driven by curiosity for exploring new possibilities, taste experiences, textures and combinations of ingredients – and above all it’s meant to make people enjoy. If the servings tend to be rather small, this is not to intimidate guests by underlining how exquisite the food is. It’s just to avoid food going to the trashcan, as simple as that. You can always go and ask for more of anything, that’s the deal.
So, talking about the deal, what is the price for an eat’inspiration at de culinaire werkplaats? The answer is: There is none, not even a suggestion. They have a price list for the wine, but not for the food. Instead, people are requested to leave an amount that they think is fair and appropriate. Deal done? More information and inspiration can be found on de culinaire werkplaats’ website and on Facebook.
And if after reading this article you feel inspired to try a recipe from de culinaire werkplaats, here is one.