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Steinbesser Experimental Gastronomy

When was invited to join Martin Kullik of Steinbesser for a surprise meal at the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam, we could hardly decline. A menu of locally-produced, vegan courses was served and made to eat with cutlery by Maki Okamoto.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 06-06-2013

Walking into room 222 of the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam was always going to be exciting. The room, designed by Joep van Lieshout features a eight-person bed that can be transformed into a stage, soundproofed walls ensure other guests won’t be kept from their sleep and a green bathroom is completely waterproof. This time, however, the room has been transformed into a restaurant courtesy of Steinbesser Experimental Gastronomy. 


Initiated by German-born, Amsterdam-based Martin Kullik, Steinbesser works together with the Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy on interdisciplinary projects ranging from contemporary dance, design, experimental gastronomy, fashion, jewellery, performance to theater and counting.


The menu for this Spring edition included only pant-based ingredients, each of which were sourced locally, or at least in the Netherlands. A huge challenge for our Russian-born chef who told the guests finding oil and salt was difficult and ensuring no sugar, honey or other sweeteners were used in any of the dishes. 


A first course came in the form of nettle tea, served in a beautiful flask by Maarten Baptist. With glass walls and an outer shell made of cork, tea, soup or whichever hot drink will stay warm for hours. “And it also serves as a cooking pot,” explains Martin Kullik, the brain behind Steinbesser. 


He continues: “The idea for Experimental Gastronomy came as our eating habits were shifting. We started to notice that the diversity of plant-based ingredients available in stores and used by restaurants gave a limited understanding of the cultural complexity and variety of species really cultivated in the Netherlands.”


A little anxious of what’s to come our nerves are quickly tempered as the chef stands at our table and begins serving out the soup, complete with a garnish of edible flowers. Cutlery by Maki Okamoto and glasses by Maarten Baptist make the entire experience fun and social, diners giggling with each other as they struggle to keep a spoonful of soup from falling in their lap. 


Ingredients such as barley, celeriac and asparagus allow for surprising taste combinations and new discoveries. Imagining all these vegetables and fruits growing in the Netherlands brings a sense of joy. 


Each Steinbesser event (there are about four a year) Kullik collaborates with different chefs and designers which he finds by word of mouth.


“The intensive research process we were and still are going through had to be balanced by making the evenings an intensive experience. We start to develop a menu based on the vegetables, fruits and plants available depending of the season and the bio-dynamic farmers we are working with. Then combining them with a variety of grains, beans, nuts and seeds and adding natural sweeteners, salt and other plant-based ingredients to the dish.”


Seems challenging, especially during the colder months. “The beginning and the end of each project, it is as challenging as to understand where one season starts and where it comes to an end. To be able to initiate a working circle and let it come to an end, changing the constellation of the different elements.”


But enjoyable nonetheless as Kullik tells how he likes the research, and slowly growing to understand the beauty of diversity. 


After a desert sweetened with nothing more than fruit concentrate, our vegan meal has come to an end. A gastronomic experience it certainly was and one worth repeating. We leave the Lloyd hotel with full bellies and satisfied minds, learning more about the bio-dynamic farming industry has made us hungry for more.  

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