Artist on a Plate | Jannis Brevet

15 Oct 2019
6 min read
Using produce unique to the Zeeland region in the west Netherlands, Dutch chef Jannis Brevet of three-Michelin-starred Inter Scaldes in Kruiningen creates dishes with purity of taste, masterful technique and unparalleled refinement at their core.

Both an artist and a chef, Jannis Brevet’s cuisine is the result of the fusion of art and cooking. Much like the first time Jannis picked up a paintbrush and took paint to canvas, his first time in a professional kitchen had him hooked.

“To earn some extra money as a 15-year-old boy, I ended up in a restaurant kitchen. Because there were too few kitchen staff, I soon had to do all kinds of work in the kitchen. At that moment the spark for cooking went over. I love the craft professions.”

Brevet’s love for the craft of painting and cooking is matched by his passion for the produce he uses. Sourcing locally is paramount for the chef, and with Inter Scaldes surrounded by the bountiful Zeeland inlets that are rich in uniquely diverse marine life, the location of Brevet’s kitchen is ideal. Here, the chef can take advantage of top-quality, fresh local produce and showcase its excellence using his transparent cooking approach.

“The inlets of Zeeland with their unique ecosystem are among the best cultivation areas for crustaceans and shellfish. We have a long coastline and fish-rich water inlets. The supply lines for the famous Oosterschelde (Zeeland) lobster and oysters are short and the control is optimal. But also the local cheeses, wines, salt meadow lamb and hare [make Inter Scaldes’ location ideal in terms of produce].”

The freshness and quality of the ingredient is key to the success of each of Brevet’s dishes, and so, every detail that may affect the taste of the end-product is vital to the chef.

“The basis of the success of the dish is the product. I want to know where the fish was caught, coastal fisherman or big boat and how long the fish has been on its way.”

“I always strive for the minimum. If you work very pure, then you can’t hide anything. The flavors must be completely perfect. Cooking is not high chemistry; you have to appreciate its simplicity.  Everything on the board must have a function, one must reinforce the other.”

Born and raised in the Zeeland area, the Chef’s connection to and in-depth knowledge of his native land’s produce is beyond compare. This, coupled with over 4 decades of experience in the kitchen, has streamlined his culinary approach to understanding that restraint is key.

“Less is more is my motto, but getting there is very difficult. You have to learn to leave out ingredients. Discover how to get the right balance in your dishes. I don’t create to create.”

“My style starts from a traditional basis, which stems from my education and the experience I have built up in 40 years. The product is central to this and then I look for three to four components that bring out the beauty of that basic product even better.”

Even with Inter Scaldes receiving 3 Michelin stars and Jannis being named The Netherlands’ Best Chef on multiple occasions, his fortitude in continuing to master the culinary craft is unhinged.

“Cooking for me is like a sacred must. There is always a drive to perform, ambition. I am still learning and want to keep learning.  I have an unremitting interest in food and products.”

“My kitchen is based on three pillars: product knowledge, cooking technique and dosage. It is a process of years of cooking and gaining experience and very hard work. All free time is spent in the company. Together with my wife Claudia we run the hotel and restaurant since 2001, almost for 18 years.”

The utmost care and attention to detail that Brevet injects into every one of his plates ensures that every dish is of equally exceptional quality. Thus, the chef sees no signature dishes in his repertoire, but rather each dish that he creates is a unique artwork forming part of the overall creative exhibition that is his menu, with regional produce as the golden-thread running through.

“I fully support all my dishes. I don’t think one is better than the other.  I do like to work with regional products; fish, shellfish and crustaceans, lamb from the salt marshes and game from the polder.”

Working with ethically sourced, regional products is what Brevet believes is the future of the fine-dining industry – an attitude that many chefs of Brevet’s caliber are beginning to foster too.

“We must work together to eat as healthily and sustainably as possible. Products with a quality mark, for example the ‘Fair Trade’ label, you can be sure that your product has not been subjected to exploitation or child labor. Of course, this applies especially to products from far away, such as coffee, chocolate and rice.”

“With fish, it is important to pay attention to the MSC ecolabel, which indicates that the fish is sustainably caught and that there is no overfishing. Animal-friendliness and traditional slaughter are also important considerations.”

Brevet’s devotion both to the environment and his cuisine is venerable. His ability to create stellar dishes whilst respecting the origins of the produce is a testament to the chef’s skill and talent. Perhaps it is this connection to the produce which allows him to so successfully highlight and intensify the purity of nature’s harmonious flavors.

“I stand for a pure kitchen, full of technique and refinement. Above all, it is a kitchen that revolves around taste and balance. Anyone who eats at my restaurant will feel the gastronomic experience in the simplicity and honesty of my cooking style. I always look for perfection and everything on the plate must have a function.”

The creative journey of Brevet’s perfect plates start with inspiration from historic artworks, and from here, his gastronomic masterpieces take form.

“I’m a huge fan of Modernism, the refined, minimalism art created after 1950, the post-war art, with a preference for geometric abstract works. I’m fascinated by the synesthesia between art and cooking; the connection between observations and impressions from the different senses.”

“The idea is that colors, lines, shapes and structure are inspiring for cooking. I don’t copy the images in my cooking, but they inspire me in a certain way. They influence my choice of ingredients, the way that I arrange the food on the plate or the dinnerware that I use.”

Brevet’s artwork is not only displayed on his plates, but also lines the walls of the Inter Scaldes Restaurant and the Inter Scaldes Manoir. Located alongside the main restaurant building, the Inter Scaldes Manoir boasts a dozen elegantly decorated rooms, and is run by Jannis’ wife, Claudia.

“Restaurant Inter Scaldes is a sturdy thatched roofed villa in the middle of the polder with next to it the Manoir with 12 luxury hotel rooms, surrounded by terraces and the lush English garden. Its location is unique. The building is large and stately, but inside it feels intimate and homely.”

“The hotel and restaurant are classy with granite floors, spacious, luxurious rooms and a series of unique works of art. The style is powerful and at the same time minimalist. Extra special is the fact that the artworks are made by chef Jannis Brevet. His vision, esthetical power and creativity are not only reflected in the dishes in the restaurant, but are also clearly present in the hotel. The interior design works with soft colors, wood and warm elements.”

The warm, convivial ambience exuded by Inter Scaldes is one of the key elements of its success in Jannis’ opinion, evident by the fact that many of their guests return on multiple occasions to experience this unsurpassed combination of haute cuisine and authentic Dutch hospitality.

“Hospitality is an important pillar within our company. Together with our team we give the guests a wonderful laid back (Zen) feeling. It is an environment that relaxes.”

“In the restaurant there is much attention for the guests and lots of fun. Guests do not come to us to be seen, but to enjoy food and wine. The result is 60% regular guests, who have been visiting Inter Scaldes for years.”

The fine-dining scene according to Brevet, is all about the guests’ experience, and to maintain at the top of diners’ bucket lists, he works tirelessly alongside his wife to create a one-of-a-kind Dutch gastronomic experience filled with excitement, surprise and splendor.

“There is a lot of interest in fine dining worldwide. Healthy food and quality have become a certain standard. The experience in Michelin star restaurants has become very important. Guests are spoiled and want to be surprised and spoiled by the service team and get to know new wines and flavors.”

This level of excellence does not come easily, however, and for Brevet, hard work, dedication and failure are all part of the arduous journey to success.

“Accepting that you sometimes have to take two steps back to get one forward [is a key element that leads to success]. Do not make concessions, and believe in yourself. It is important to gather the right people around you, to be on the same page. Disappointments have to be collected in order to become mentally strong.”

As for what 2019 has install for Inter Scaldes, Jannis admits, “I don’t have much time to look far ahead and don’t have many wishes. I live by the day and hope to be able to do my job for a long time to come. We live our dream.”


Images © and Inter Scaldes