March of the Chefs
The Dutch foodie heroes on a bizarre year
Saturday 05 June 2021
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Based out in the west of Amsterdam, Two Chefs is a bona-fide brewing powerhouse, whose food-friendly, flavour-curious approach has seen it brew some of The Netherlands’ favourite craft beers. And, despite being hit hard by the country’s lockdown, co-founder Sanne Slijper (one of the two eponymous chefs) says the brewery is raring to bounce back with a wider range of experimental beers and a significant expansion of its bar and restaurant business.
Like so many breweries, Two Chefs started out with two friends at a career crossroads, developing a passion for home brewing. Both Sanne and his co-founder Martijn Disseldorp had previously worked in the kitchen of a high-end restaurant, before going on to other professions, but had never lost their interest in flavour and constructing recipes. Starting with tiny brews, before scaling up to cuckoo brewing and eventually building their own very cool brewery, Two Chefs’ story has been a more-or-less straight line of growth and success.
Food remains a very important part of not only Two Chefs’ brewing philosophy, but also of the business itself. In 2018, the pair opened Bar Alt, a high-end dining experience which put beer firmly at its heart. This was set to be joined by a second bar, under the Two Chefs brand, when the pandemic hit.
“We wanted to have a new bar and had just taken over a site and were in the middle of renovation when Corona came,” says Sanne. “We opened the moment we were allowed to on 1 June 2020. And then four months later, we had to shut it down again until last week, and we now have the ability to at least do outdoor terraces again.
“While we had that time over the summer, we agreed that by summer 2021 it would be great to have another bar. So now we’ve turned over the original Bar Alt to a Two Chefs bar; it made sense, because the focus there is very much on the terraces, which aren’t a great match for fine dining. So now we’re looking for the perfect location for Bar Alt to continue, with less space outside and more focus on the service level. And then on top of that, we’re planning to open another Two Chefs bar in Utrecht, Rotterdam or The Hague.”
Things have also been moving apace on the beer front. Like many breweries with a heavy reliance on pubs and bars, Two Chefs quickly realised the importance of enticing customers back to its web shop to keep sales up over the long year of lockdown. This has resulted in a flurry of interesting new beers, and Sanne says the pace of new releases will only increase as restrictions lift.
“The last year, we did one special each month, and we’re now hoping that we can grow towards at least two. Our core range is widely available and has a big group of very loyal fans. Funky Falcon still makes up around 40% of our volume and we’re very proud of it. So we like to cater for everyone from the macro pilsener drinker who’s just looking around, to the hop-heads who are always on Untappd.”
IN THE BOX: Wetland Haze DDH Hazy IPA
Co-founder Sanne Slijper
“This is a big, juicy, double dry hopped IPA, hazy because of the yeast. We really wanted to highlight the Dutch provenance of this beer, so on the label you’ll find everything from a windmill to a bike – everything that is typically Dutch. And then if that’s too subtle, the label is also bright orange. Then ‘wetland’ is also a reference to the lowlands that we have here, the amount of water and the constant struggle to fight against the water in the Netherlands. And, of course ‘haze’ has a double meaning, right? Yeah, it’s cloudy, but it also refers to the green goodies from the coffee shop!
“So it’s super aromatic. We dry hop with Nelson Sauvin, Citra and Mosaic. So we got a good contract on the flagship American hops, and also we’re the one and only importer of Nelson from New Zealand. So we really get the pick of the bunch and wanted to showcase how good they can be.”
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