Monday, July 13

Dines Out: Aloha Rotterdam

- October 1, 2018


I’m staying with my mood of reflecting on the work of the Brighton & Hove Food & Drink Festival this week. This time another venture for International Chef Exchange, the project we started over five years ago and that became a TV series that can now be seen on Amazon Prime.

It is perhaps the work I am most proud of, and the principal of introducing chefs from around the world to other chefs and seeing them share their ideas and talents has been so rewarding.

This week we were joined by Michael van Belle and his sous chef Barry from Aloha Rotterdam, and this was the first leg of an exchange which in the new year will see Isaac Bartlett-Copeland travel to Rotterdam and cook there.

The dinner here was spectacular and once again we saw chefs sharing, and as I always describe it “playing nicely together”.

We started with Michael’s incredible asian style dumplings in a kimchi stock and filled with kohlrabi. I love dumplings and these were amongst the very best I have ever tasted.

This was followed by a celebration of pumpkin, lifting the pretty gourd to new heights of both taste and textures. Isaac’s hyper local ethics never fail to use ingredients close to hand to the very best effect, and again I was blown away by the incredible bread that they make in their tiny kitchen.

A wonderfully balanced combination

Michael was next with some amazing home smoked haddock served with a sea buckthorn sauce and pumpkin gnocchi. Yes more pumpkin, but in a guise that was unlike the previous dish and equally as exciting. This was a wonderfully balanced combination of cured fish, softy gnocchi and a vibrant sauce – both in colour and flavour.

Isaac and team parries with roasted pollock served on a puree of caramelised artichoke and dressed with parsley oil and sea aster. Each element of this elegant dish deserved to be on that plate, nothing there for no good reason, everything working in harmony – a lesson a lot of chefs should learn!


The next dish was the most extraordinary, scallops of celeriac, brown bean miso, celeriac toffee, potato espuma, fermented pear and sorrel leaf. Are you sure Michael? Oh yes – not just sure but assured. This was magic, quite brilliant.

To finish: Isaac’s walnut ice-cream with sloe puree and local honey. Now that’s what I call a dessert and the whole evening matched with fine wines by the very bouncy Alex. Power cuts throughout didn’t throw these talented people and I went home glowing from the whole experience.

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