“I believe that this is the future of haute cuisine, where quality on the plate goes hand-in-hand with a relaxed atmosphere” – these are the words of none other than the Netherlands’ top chef, Sergio Herman. And he would know, as he is in fact the proprietor of the Pure C restaurant and the brains behind this restaurant, in which the lightness of existence is celebrated in both the composition of the dishes and the clothing worn by the staff.
The fact that Herman chose a real whippersnapper of a chef for the Pure C restaurant, namely Syrco Bakker, was a real talking point in the industry in 2011, however Bakker delivered upon the trust placed in him in truly impres- sive style. Within a year and a half of opening, he had already cooked his way to a Michelin star, and the Pure C restaurant is currently rated 17 out of 20 by Gault Millau.
This is not recognition enough however, especially when you consider that the concept differs wildly from anything else found to this date in the Zeeland province, which is so highly regarded by food connoisseurs, and the neighbouring Belgian region of Flanders.
Syrco Bakker’s rise to stardom began when he was just a teenager displaying an extraordinary amount of ambition. He was constantly on the lookout for multi-award winning establishments in which he could complete intern- ships. That is how he ended up working at Jean-Georges Klein’s L’Arnsbourg restaurant in the Lorraine region of France and Jonnie Boer’s restaurant De Librije in Zwolle, to name but two. In 2007, Bakker took part in the Dutch championships for young chefs, where he promptly claimed the top prize.
Following that, he joined forces with Dutch star chef Sergio Herman. In the kitchen of the three-star Oud Sluis restaurant, Bakker worked his way up through every department, impressing the chef with his passion and crystal clear understanding of the flavours of seasonal and regional produce, while also demonstrating that he had what it takes to successfully implement his concept of relaxed haute cuisine dining on the North Sea coast, in spite of the fact that he was still only in his mid-twenties.
At Pure C, Bakker impresses with his dishes that strike a balance between playfulness and complexity and which highlight the atmosphere and environment of the establishment with their easygoing appearance. He creates these dishes primarily using fish and seafood that his suppliers catch from the North Sea, right outside the restaurant’s front door, as well as large quantities of locally-grown herbs and vegetables. He combines these products with flavours from all over the world, with Indonesian being his favourite. This is not just a random personal preference by Bakker. His mother is originally from Indonesia and it is thanks to her that he came to love and appreciate the authentic taste and unique flavours of Indonesian cuisine while still a child.
As you would expect, an evening spent at Pure C begins with a glass of “Hierbas de las dunas”, a delicious digestive liqueur that combines sweet and salty elements and incorporates no fewer than 18 different types of fresh herbs, plants and flowers growing in the dunes at Cadzand-Bad, before you glide through Syrco Bakker’s multi-course menu as if riding on a gentle North Sea wave. Flanked by a combination of seaweed and oysters from Zeeland, served with crisp rocket and sea buckthorn, the wave begins to swell with exquisitely seasoned white fish, Zeeland mussels, exotic bulgur wheat and powdered gold before reaching its peak with the main course – shoulder of Holstein beef seasoned with garlic and served with regional vegetables, sesame vinaigrette and Thai Beárnaise sauce.
If you want to experience the Pure C feeling in this country, the “Pure C Cookbook” provides recipes from Syrco Bakker and Sergio Herman, a large number of photos of the restaurant and its surrounding area and, most impor- tantly of all, a CD containing classy electro music. Or you could come to Salzburg in September 2016, where Syrco Bakker will be spending a month as guest chef at the Restaurant Ikarus, bringing the absolute lightness of existence to Hangar-7.
Photography byHelge Kirchberger Photography / Red BullHangar-7