Interview - Sergio Herman

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A beautiful and sunny day, I spent some time with an amazing chef: Sergio Herman.

Getting to know such a talent, and to have some quality time together, was a worth-remembering moment. Perfectionist, exceptional chef and businessman, he is driven by an extraordinary energy.

Sergio Herman is the famous chef from Oud Sluis, next to the Belgian border in the Netherlands, that he took over from his father in 1990.

He received his first star in 1995, a second followed in 1999 and in 2005 Oud Sluis was the third retaurant in the Netherlands ever to be awarded three Michelin stars in 2006.

From 2003, Sergio appeared in The World’s 50 Best restaurants list, and climbed up to number 17.

Sergio has nothing commun as he has also been awarded 20 points by the Dutch Gault Millau Guide, which is not only unique but exceptional.

In June 2013, Sergio Herman announced the closure of The Oud Sluis restaurant to focus on his other projects: he decided to open The Jane and Pure C, which are now two of the best dining places in Belgium and Netherlands.

He started up a french fries concept, Frites Atelier Amsterdam, and just opened last month in Antwerp.

That day, I was lucky to have a meeting with an exceptional chef, and a driven human being. sharing with me some of his thoughts, tastes and experiences.

T.F.: Sergio, could you tell us about the source of your inspiration?

S.H.: I don’t have a process, the creativity comes and go… Sometimes, my inspiration comes when i’m jogging – i try to do it 2-3 times a week – it’s important for me to feel the nature. I need to feel this nature, otherwise i would become crazy. Sometimes, it comes when we go to the city with my wife to see artists and other stuffs. Or just sometimes, that happens on the road from Antwerp to Knokke (Belgian seaside), when I’m thinking of new mix taste. And I find my inspiration on holiday of course, when I travel.

T.F.: Do you follow anybody’s footsteps or go by your own ?

S.H.: That’s difficult…. We always know what’s happening outside but it’s important to put your own personality and your own style in your plate. That’s the most important thing.

T.F.: What ingredient do you consider add the best to the dishes you prepare ?

S.H.: Herbs and spices because it can bring you to another level. But it’s also important to mix those herbs and spices, especially to hit the perfection because otherwise it’s too easy… Everybody can do that. It’s very important to balance your taste to be more elegant and powerful. And those elements bring you to the perfection.

T.F.: Your favorite veggies ?

Red cabbage and brussels sprouts.

T.F.: How often do you change your menu ?

S.H.: What we do here is not changing all the times. We do it sometimes. After holiday we start a new menu. But we change it step-by-step because people are not really happy when we change everything in one time. When my farmer call me and tell me : oh sergio I have carrots and some new stuff, then we try to put it in.

T.F.: Which supplier is the most important for you?

S.H.: I think the Fish from Zealand. We have the best one and it’s very important to keep good contact with the fishemermen because they know what we expect from them and what we don’t like.

T.F.: How much are you a Nature lover ? How do you incorporate your philosophy in the kitchen ?

S.H.: We have a biologised farm house, and it’s awesome. To respect the animal and the biologische atmosphere is very important. It’s like a diamond for them, they are so passionate, it’s sometimes unbelievable.

T.F.: What boosts your dedication ?

S.H.: The creation, always being in the kitchen. And the feeling that everybody is happy, that the team is moving, feeling the vibe. Then you can go home and you feel so satisfied.

T.F.: Your next destination ?

S.H.: London.

T.F.: Tell us something about your next ventures ?

S.H.: Open a restaurant in London (haha) but we are also going to open a new restaurant in Cadzand in June 2016. It’s going to be a beach house, with fantastique view. And also The hotel of the “Pure C” will be more bigger. I will start to design 6 suites in it.

T.F.: Your mentor ?

S.H.: Pierre Gagnaire, he opened my eyes so many years ago, because he cooked out of the box. There’s a lot of chef, it’s difficult.

T.F.: Comfort food?

S.H.: Pasta from my wife.

T.F.: You know you could only live and be happy with ?

S.H.: …With my family and pasta (haha)

T.F.: Your favourite smell?

S.H.: Home perfume from Colette and wood fires. The most sexy perfume is the home perfume from Costes.

T.F.: A place to relax?

S.H.: Ibiza is my second home, I go six seven times a year. I always try to see a lot of places. I just went to Costa Rica last year. Ibiza is a good a way to feel free, it’s a special energy-vibes, i always relax myself over there.

T.F. Your hideway?

S.H.: Go to countryside. And jog, it’s freedom inside (music and it’s just pushy).

T.F.: Favourite Colours?

S.H.: Black or White.

T.F.: A pet ?

S.H.: Dog

T.F.: Best city ?

S.H.: London

T.F.: Which part of London ?

S.H.: The southern part

T.F.: Memorable episodes in your life ?

S.H.: The 80’s when I grow up and begin of 90’s. It was a super nice period because I worked in Oud-Sluis, The best part in my life. I was working with Kobe and those years were dedicated to power, passion, we fought for each other. I see him very often.

T.F.: Love for other creativity processes ?

S.H.: Art and design

T.F. Other interests ?

S.H.: Thriller and documentary, because I love to learn. The last tutorial I watched was about Anton Corbijn, and photography on Youtube.

T.F.: A material?

S.H.: Leather

T.F.: Sweet or Sour?

S.H.: Sour

T.F.: What impresses & inspires you ?

S.H.: Fight for something, people who have the mentality to push everyday.

T.F.: Your Lifelines ?

S.H.: The most important thing: My family, the taste, and beauty – ‘aesthetic’ for me, it’s very important to bring it aesthetic – into the look of dishes and the designs of the restaurant. I want to bring a very nice culinary level and make it nice and different things. For me it’s important when I eat, but it’s also important when you have nice atmosphere and good music.

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