Inspiration can be found in the most unlikely places. While most chefs turn to seasonal or unusual ingredients to devise a delectable dish, culinary creative Yuri Verbeek looks to his surroundings and everyday experiences to create extraordinary cuisine. As head chef and owner of Delft culinary studio De Kokkerie, Verbeek believes that simple things can lead to surprising dishes.
“I create dishes in a special way,” says the award-winning chef. “I look further than the dish to try to surprise people.” Whether it is an ingredient, utensil or personal encounter, there are no holds barred for Verbeek when it comes to finding inspiration. “When I create something, I walk by IKEA. I walk by garden centers and see what they have there. And I like to play with those kind of materials with my dishes.”
On one occasion, the chef stumbled upon a perfume bottle while browsing at IKEA and had the idea to fill it with lemon juice. The bottles were then used to spray the lemon on fish when served during catering events. Other times, Verbeek’s creativity is sparked by ordinary situations.
“I was in a front of a Turkish supermarket where three guys with scooters and a lot of ‘bling bling’ were eating pita gyros,” he says. “For me that was very interesting. So I thought, how could I make the most culinary pita gyros for my clients? Normally, in pita gyros, they use very bad meat. And so I made mine from confit of quail, fresh bread and garlic foam. I also used edible gold to make the dish beautiful.”
At the upcoming TEDxDelft event, Verbeek shares his unique approach to gastronomy and how he is inspired by the seemingly mundane. “I was surprised that I was asked to speak at TEDxDelft because I don’t consider myself to be so special,” he admits. “But people see it in a different way.”
While some are put off by culinary creativity, Verbeek maintains that his dishes are very well received. “Every year, we get busier and busier,” he claims. “Our clients know that something special happens when we come with our food. And for a lot of customers, it’s very interesting.”
Indeed, the most rewarding part of Verbeek’s gastronomic endeavours is the opportunity to surprise people and to think differently compared with other chefs. “For me, it’s not difficult to be creative,” he says. “I see something and I make a creation with it.” With Verbeek at the helm, the result is always a culinary experience like no other.