10 questions for Adriaan van Raab van Canstein – restaurant Le Hollandais

Le Hollandais is a restaurant on the Amsteldijk in Amsterdam. It is designed in retro style. Michelin awarded the restaurant Bib-Gourmands several times, in 2004 the chef contributed to it The Rijksmuseum cookbook, in which master chefs are inspired by the Golden Age. The restaurant’s signature is’cuisine bourgeoise‘, not only because the chef is of noble birth, but especially because of the noble flavors and smells that you find on your plate and because of the special atmosphere. Just a little while longer. Because after 25 years, this Amsterdam institute will close its doors. Patron cuisinier and francofoiel Adriaan Raab van Canstein looks in this interview and at the mini-docu by Foodtube in the window below back to the history of his case, how it came about and what’s next.

1. How did you get into the cooking compartment and when?
AvRvC: ‘Started with a squat restaurant in the 1980s in the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat. Then for many years at Tisfris as a kitchen helper. Then started with Christophe, who just opened. There I learned everything about a real kitchen, where the language of instruction was also French. When they got a star I left. ‘

2. In my memory you also cooked at Café Cox, is that correct?
That’s right, after I had worked at Bordewijk for three years. I actually wanted to start for myself, but was still looking for the right place and partner. ‘

3. What fascinates you about creating or inventing dishes? The flavors, enchanting guests, surpassing yourself, something else?
All three. I think perfection is important, always keep developing. But it is wider. The structure of the menu must also be good. No doublets in ingredients, good variety in hot and cold, light and heavier. Plenty of choice but not too much. Furthermore, the ‘pace’ of the service is very important; the sequence of the dishes must be perfect and that again differs per table. And the combination with wine provides another dimension. ‘

4. When did you start Le Hollandais and why?
Together with my partner Bas, I wanted to prove that we could do it too: create a top restaurant without cutting knives and with a low threshold, read affordable. We started February 1996. ‘

5. Do you have specific examples -chef- or do your food creations arise by themselves?
No not really. I had a Raymond Oliver cookbook that I got a lot out of. I also get inspiration from everywhere. Abroad at small bakeries or restaurants, and at home often just in the fridge by looking at what is still there for a long time. Residual processing actually. ‘

6. In 2021 it is time for something different, you already know what?
Small projects first. Helping cooks and friends out of the fire, maybe a day at Klepel. Guest cooking, helping to set up business, giving advice. ‘

7. In the meantime, you can fill the pandemic hole with takeaway meals from “cassoulet”. Why this particular dish? What do you like about this?
It is a classic from Le Hollandais, which I tinkered with for years. And still do. It is also something you do not easily make at home. And it can be heated up very well.
My motto is: “better a good one trick pony than a bad seven course meal“.”

8. Do you think the food culture in the Netherlands has improved in recent years?
Not really. Too many “menu concepts” have been added, inspired by three-star businesses. But they are not properly realized. There is too much zoom in on location, your own backyard, self-picking, vin nature. ‘

9. Do you think there is enough to be found in supermarkets to make something special as a mere mortal?
Always. And for little moreover. A can of sardines, a tomato and a pepper …. ‘

10. You played the organ in Le Hollandais between courses, how did this come about?
I always wanted an organ or piano in the business, to be able to entertain people like in an old-fashioned restaurant. ‘

text: Peter van Woensel Kooy

See also Adriaan’s column and video (source: Foodtube) Below.

During the lockdown, Van Raab van Canstein makes a main course and dessert for 25 euros every Saturday, which can be collected between 4 and 6 pm. There are also some matching wines on the bar to take away, at purchase price plus 15 euros storage. Consider, for example: Cassoulet Toulousain, with sausage, lamb, pork knuckle and duck confit. ‘Dessert surprise!’ App to book: 0654717726.
Le Hollandais | Amsteldijk 41 | Amsterdam


September 29, 2020 / Le Hollandais

What seemed impossible to me for a long time is now about to happen; the end of Le Hollandais. The restaurant where my Hammond organ is, my Victory refrigerator, and some other stuff that I am attached to. I will hand it over to someone who, in turn, wants to start for himself (I will bring the organ with me of course) and will see what else there is to do in life. Although I already know that I will miss it enormously. The daily worries and routine involved in running a restaurant. From the consultation with the fishmonger at the beginning of the week to clearing the fridge at the end, and everything in between. I will also get sentimental when the time comes, because there is so much to remember. It was the place where my mother loved to visit to arrange the flowers, but mainly to socialize all day with the people in the kitchen and waiters. And the place where my father proudly came to dinner with all his friends and family until his end. The restaurant where I worked with so many people, where I trained so many people. Left my kids on crates to cut chips and bake pies. Where so many regulars have come and gone and come back again. The place where I found my girlfriend without even knowing it, because on Sundays she always jogged by to see if I was there. But I was always closed on Sundays so I couldn’t know. Until after a year she came back to eat and the spark broke.

For years I thought it would go on forever. That I would become an icon like Sluizer or Oesterbar. I stood for a timeless case, where the classics would be performed by me and my successors. Breton fish soup, terrine with “confit de porc”, bouchées and vol-au-vents with various fillings, and of course my sausages, where I could put just about anything that bothered me. Everything would be served by expert service for ages. No cutting knives, but also no dick stories at the table, or wine advice in a squat position. I have to consider (in memoriam) Ruud, who understood and supported all this for years. God how we laughed at our guests and colleagues, and the hospitality industry in general.

But it will not happen. Despite all the dear, loyal guests, in my opinion there is not enough soil in Amsterdam for a fertile classic restaurant. One where you get to choose what to eat and return what is not good. I think the niche is getting too small, so I leave. Without resentment, by the way, because I find the idea of ​​a (new) future very attractive. In this way, at 57 years old, I even feel a bit young again instead of an indefinable age. The question remains what I can still do for you. I’m going to think about it, is all I promise now. We will be open for at least another three months, including Christmas, and the handover is January 1, 2021.
(AvRvC, chef Le Hollandais)


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