Interviews

Q&A with Sanne Huisman, founder TEDS

Tender pancakes, runny eggs, and endless rounds of mimosa’s abound. TEDS All Day Brunch is all about feel good food and a striking, Instagram-worthy appearance. Having worked as a cocktail shaker, bartender and hostess for award-winning catering companies for many years, after which she went on to Disaronno as an account manager Hospitality and Trade marketer, Sanne Huisman felt she needed to break the curve and started a new tradition: Dutch style of course, with a hint of NYC cool.

 

“Personally, I was really missing a place where I could eat french-fries in the morning or a fried egg late in the afternoon.”

 

You have restaurants at four different locations in the Netherlands. Tell us more! How did you get started?

Yes, we are actually celebrating our 5th anniversary of opening our first restaurant in Amsterdam next month! The concept of TEDS is based on my ‘frustration’ that many restaurants in the Netherlands were still thinking in boxes. At that time there were no restaurants here that had an all-day menu. For example, they only serve breakfast until noon, lunch until 3 pm and then there is an option for snacks before they would change to a separate dinner menu at five o’clock. Personally, I was really missing a place where I could eat french-fries in the morning or a fried egg late in the afternoon. That’s how the concept was born; based on a personal desire to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. The international vibe of cities like NYC and London really appealed to me, mostly because this concept had been existing there for quite a few years already. It’s also where the inspiration for the brunch menu in combination with the mimosa came from.

Have you always been a real ‘foodie’ yourself?

I’ve always loved good food, that’s for sure. But it’s not like I’m spending hours in the kitchen endlessly cooking new recipes, or constantly photographing my food when I eat out. In fact, unlike most of my friends, I never take pictures of my food. Unless I get inspiration from it, then I might grab my phone for a quick snap.

What is the power behind your concept? What makes TEDS unique?

We respond to the needs of the individual. This may sound a bit floaty, but take a look at the freelancers for example. Their weekend is not necessarily set on Saturday and Sunday. And in general, we want to offer that weekend vibe every single day of the week and the experience at any time throughout the day.

Where do you find inspiration for the menu?

I do my best to keep up with new trends. To be honest, I mainly follow what happens in NYC, as that is the big frontrunner when it comes to brunch. Whenever I see something that I think might work for us as well, we give it a twist and create a unique dish. For example, if I want a new sandwich on the menu, I ask my head chef for his opinion. Then, I call all my chefs together and we hold a cook-off, where everyone gets the change to bring some amazing flavours together. We taste all different options and when we have something we are completely satisfied with, it gets a spot on the menu. Basically, what happens is that I pitch the idea and my team can give their input and fine-tune the dish.

The plant-based market is expanding rapidly. How do you feel about the “vegan trend”?

I think it’s great that people are becoming more aware of the impact that their choices have on the environment and consciously choosing local products and less meat. To be honest, I do enjoy a good quality steak myself, but I think it is extremely important that it is of high quality, that the cow has had a good life and has been able to graze. This actually goes without saying for me. Of course we only serve meat that comes from the farmer. Do I really want to go along with the vegan trend? I think that if the whole world would only eat plants and avocados, within a few years we would go to another extreme and I can’t say I would entirely support that. In my opinion, there should be a good balance and animal welfare should come first in any case.

We receive a lot of questions about where our products are coming from, not so much in the restaurant itself, but via Instagram or email. We notice that people are much more involved with it nowadays. For me it is the obvious choice, but we notice that there is an increasing need from consumers to know what they’re consuming and that it fits their lifestyle. That is why we are going to specify the ingredients and origin of the products on our new menu as well.

2020 will be the year of zero-waste kitchens, with restaurants aiming to produce as little (preferably no) waste as possible. Do you think this is realistic?

I don’t think it is 100% achievable, but we are committed to make sure that as little food as possible ends up in the container. We have been approached quite a few times by organisations who collect leftover food from restaurants to donate to the food bank. A fantastic initiative of course! But because we are open seven days a week and we are already very conscious about the amount of stock we have in our kitchen, we rarely have anything left. If there is anything left over, it is generally consumed during the staff lunch.

In addition, I believe it is extremely important to use as little plastic as possible and we consciously choose to order everything from one supplier, so that we don’t need several trucks to get what we need. And if people want a doggie bag at the end of their visit at TEDS, they can certainly take anything left on their plate home with them. Something that is not very common in the Netherlands.

Let’s talk cocktails! Because what’s a brunch without a Mimosa or Espresso Martini, right? Which cocktails are most sought after?

Bloody Mary, Mimosa and Espresso Martini are by far the most popular choices! And yes, also at 9 o’clock in the morning. It is very satisfying to see people enjoy the full the brunch experience. It brings us joy too.

Is there a suitable cocktail recommended for each dish? (Like a sommelier does with wine)

Not specifically. We do give advice on what works best if customers ask for it and we have a few recommendations on our menu; such as the espresso martini brunch or a champagne brunch that comes with accomplishing food and drinks. But in general, our customers like to choose for themselves. They usually start with a coffee though. Especially Dutch people are often a bit more cautious when it comes to day-drinking.

Nowadays it’s all about “experience”. In general, what makes or breaks having a great afternoon in your opinion?

Service is by far the most important factor. Any restaurant experience stands or falls with good service. You want to feel comfortable, you want to feel at home and moreover, you want to be seen. I believe it’s the complete package where service, food and getting value for money is all in balance. You can have the best meal you’ve ever had, but if the service is not okay, you will not have an optimal experience and probably won’t go back to that restaurant in the future.

“The avocado is often associated with a healthy lifestyle. However, I think many people underestimate the impact the huge demand for this product has on the environment.”

Where have you been surprised lately (or in the past) when it comes to dining experience?

I am a huge fan of Asian street food! There are quite a few good places in Amsterdam where they offer amazing Asian cuisine, but if I have to mention one in particular, I have to say Rons Gastro Bar Oriental. But also, Sinne, which is a small French Mediterranean Michelin star awarded restaurant located on the Ceintuurbaan in Amsterdam. This place has the complete package and that is exactly what makes it so attractive. It has some sort of mystery to it as well.

In your opinion, which countries should we visit for the ultimate dining experience?

South Africa! The restaurant scene in Cape Town is fantastic, both for brunch and dinner, but also street food. I honeymooned there a few years back and I had consciously opted for it, because I knew the food is absolutely amazing. Stellenbosch nearby Cape Town also offers a number of beautiful wineries, which you really can’t miss if you’re looking for that ultimate fine dining experience. I would really recommend going there for a culinary trip at least once!

Which food blogger(s) do you find inspiring and why?

I follow a number of foodies in NYC, such as the Brunch Boys, who specifically focus on the brunch scene. Brunch is a big deal in NYC, you can find so many great places there; it is one of my favourite cities. But we are also well represented in the Netherlands. For example, Rens Kroes is doing very well. Not only because of her recipes, but also the way she values and encourages a sustainable lifestyle.

What food trend do you hope will disappear rather sooner than later?

I’m quite done with the avocado trend to be honest. The avocado is often associated with a healthy lifestyle which is understandable, because there are many benefits in eating avocados. However, I think many people underestimate the impact the huge demand for this product has on the environment, BECAUSE of this trend. Avocados slurp the necessary gallons of water, especially if they come from Mexico or California and the west coast of North America already is very dry because of the low rainfall. So, continuing to consume the amount of avocado’s as we have done over the last few years, certainly does not contribute to a sustainable lifestyle.

What is the best compliment you have ever received from a customer?

It has happened several times that people come to Amsterdam for a city trip and come to us by chance on their very first day in the city. There is no bigger compliment than that visitors that literally just stumbled through your door by accident, come back every single day during their entire stay, simply because they had such an amazing experience the first time. It’s truly heart-warming and the main reason why I love doing what I do.

 

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, TEDS branches are temporarily closed. However, the team is happy to serve you with some amazing takeaway options! Check www.teds-place.nl for more info.

 

Credits: Photography by Louiza Mei King, exclusively for AV-mag

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