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Star chef Tim Golsteijn: 'For me he is really the Johan Cruijff among star chefs'

Luxury boutique hotel TwentySeven is located on Dam Square in the heart of Amsterdam, housing the Michelin star restaurant Bougainville. Tim Golsteijn*, chef from the very beginning and born and raised in Amsterdam, together with kitchen chef Dorus Floris and restaurant manager – wine director Lendl Mijnhijmer 'the triptych' of Bougainville. Golsteijn is responsible for all food and beverage in the hotel and also provides breakfast, lunch and room service for hotel guests at a high level. Royals and celebrities often stay in the six-star resort and so does Tim. The chef largely put himself on the 'menu' himself, but who gave him the starter? Who was his wheelbarrow?Text: Mical Joseph
Image: Restaurant Bougainville

What was your very first job?

“I was already busy making money at a young age. Around the age of ten, I was at a campsite just outside Amsterdam in the Gooi with a slightly older friend. He had a cargo bike that we used to collect the garbage bags for 50 cents, in guilders, per bag. Through that same friend I ended up at a restaurant in Weesp as a dishwasher. That part-time job made me want to become a chef when I grew up. The ins and outs in the kitchen really appealed to me.”

What appealed to you?

“The kitchens in restaurants always have a certain vibe and as a young boy I wanted to belong to the men in the kitchen. I can best describe this vibe by quoting Anthony Bourdain: 'We are a kind of subculture. Actually, we are all a bit 'crazy'. Chefs naturally work twelve to sixteen hours a day and see each other more than their own family and friends. We are always striving for the highest possible results.” 

How did you end up in your current job?

“As a teenager I decided to train as a chef at the Hubertus & Berkhoff in Amsterdam. After a few years, in 2008, my training mentor asked me to come and work at La Rive in the Amstel Hotel. This was of course a golden opportunity for me, because this became the first Michelin-starred business where I came to work. At that time there were about thirty to forty chefs in one kitchen with the real classic distribution. You don't see that anymore in the Netherlands these days, the teams have become much smaller. I was the pastry chef of the restaurant. After La Rive I cooked in the Vinkeles kitchen at Hotel The Dylan, Chef's Table restaurant, The College Hotel and Rosarium. As a sous chef, I always danced between the pastry shop and the kitchen and at one point became chef at Rosarium.

At a lunch, provided by my old sous chef at Lute Maarten Hoogeveen, I met star chef Pascal Jalhay. For me, Pascal has always been the 'Johan Cruijff of the star chefs'. As it turned out; He secretly ate in the Rosarium a number of times to observe me, as Pascal was busy forming the team for Restaurant Bougainville... And that's how I ended up at Bougainville as chef.”

Restaurant Bougainville has now been open for three years with one Michelin star. You already won this star in the first year. Tell!

“Of course I had already had a wonderful education ten years earlier, but who was I? I had never been a star chef and didn't have my own restaurant. Our team consisted of passionate, young chefs and... wine director Lendl, but no one knew us in the Netherlands. And then suddenly one Michelin star at the end of 2018. That was surreal.”

Who was your wheelbarrow?

“Throughout my career, my mentors have been all the chefs I worked for. Each chef taught me something different from the profession. At the Rosarium I taught myself certain facets outside of cooking, such as organization, leadership and developing my own vision.”

What is your signature dishes?

“From the moment Restaurant Bougainville opened, we have... signature dishes pork belly. This dish is no longer on the menu, but is always available. We cook the pork belly with vadouvan spices, adding structures of pumpkin, mustard seeds and green apple. The vinaigrette consists of pumpkin seeds and pomegranate. The Thai red curry with a raw papaya salad and the Indian Butterchicken as an intermediate dish are also available signature. As you read, I really like international cuisine. We do not have French classic cuisine or Dutch cuisine, as you have at many Michelin restaurants. You have the fusion kitchen, we have the 'confusion' cuisine: no boundaries and crazy, exciting combinations.”

What are the further ambitions of Restaurant Bougainville?

“As a team we want to continue with the restaurant. Reservations are going extremely well and are full every day. Now that we have obtained one Michelin star, it secretly beckons to go for a second star. For us it is a goal, but not the drive.”

What is your greatest drive in your profession?

“I get up every day for the guests and to make the most delicious and beautiful creations. If I walk around the restaurant at the end of the evening and the guests indicate that they had a wonderful evening, that is why I do it.”

What has been the biggest turning point in your career?

“Receiving the Michelin star has been a big moment in my career so far. It was so unexpected, but of course so welcome. It's the icing on the cake and gave me the title of 'star chef'. A confirmation that I am actually quite good at what I do and that we have already achieved a lot as a team.”

What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?

“I would advise young Tim that there is more than just work. Over the past fifteen years I have been very absorbed in my work, which has caused certain relationships to end. Mine inner circle is quite small and the focus is just very kitchen based. I probably could have taken up social life and other hobbies more consciously.”

Have you been a wheelbarrow for someone?

“My right hand Dorus Floris and I train a boy I worked with at The College Hotel. He has been working with us for two years now and has become a good protégé. I see him as a potential sous chef, after which he will probably want to start his own business. I hope to be a good wheelbarrow for him.”

Restaurant M* – MASTERS EXPO

Tim Golsteijn will hold the culinary sway in MASTERS EXPO's star restaurant M* on Saturday, November 20, together with Michelin chefs Dennis Kuipers*, Chris Naylor* and Onno Kokmeijer & Arjan Speelman**. There is still limited availability. Are you eating with us? Click quickly for the options and to make a reservation.