Daan Van Duijnhoven

I’ve been a chef for five years, specializing in vegan cuisine. After being a newspaper designer for 17 years, I made a significant career shift, and today, I am a sous chef Boonbon, leading a team of four chefs. Before training in the kitchen, I did a short vegetarian course in the Netherlands.

I believe I was called to this profession; the act of cooking itself and being vegan became integral to my mission. Before becoming a chef, I embraced veganism to contribute to a better world. I sought something more uplifting and in tune with my soul. While I secretly dreamed of becoming a chef, the transition seemed challenging.

As a youngster, I was into punk and hardcore music, and it led me down a conscious path. I’ve been a vegetarian since around 1994. Transitioning to veganism took time, especially while raising a family. I was like everyone, indoctrinated, but we took small steps. Working as a vegan chef, I showcase the possibilities of plant-based cuisine, contributing to the growing vegan scene in Amsterdam without pushing others into veganism. It’s about creating good taste and demonstrating that vegan food can be inventive yet delicious.

While our restaurant at the hotel caters to a variety of guests, the vegan options attract a niche audience seeking fine dining experiences. Ayatya, is the creative designer of our diverse menu, incorporating various ingredients to make it our own. Working with vegan food demands openness to experimentation, and currently, we’re infusing vegetables into desserts, such as churros with mushrooms.

As the culinary industry evolves, there’s a growing demand for well-trained chefs who can meet the unique challenges of vegan cuisine. I do think culinary education is essential for aspiring chefs, providing a foundation in basic skills. While self-taught chefs from the vegan scene bring purpose, formal education offers a structured approach and exposure to different kitchen dynamics. Looking to the future, I hope for more organic practices in the industry and increased recognition for vegan culinary schools, paving the way for a more sustainable future.
Interviewed & 📸by @delphine.cookk