RAI Amsterdam chefs serve more than event visitors alone
Free three-course lunch at Salvation Army on Thursdays
RAI Amsterdam has entered into a partnership with the Salvation Army to prepare a free weekly three-course lunch for a neighbourhood centre. Creatively composed of leftover products that are still very usable, the lunch serves two purposes: serving tasty meals to Salvation Army clients and preventing food waste.
“This is a great initiative from the RAI,” says Yvonne van Lambalgen, captain of the Salvation Army goodwill centres in Amsterdam. “In addition to filling empty stomachs, the way that people come together to enjoy a good meal leads to valuable friendships too. Around fifty people come to eat here, often including isolated individuals on a tight budget who would otherwise not meet. In this respect the lunch helps combat loneliness and benefits society as a whole.” The chefs recently organised an actual summer barbecue at the Bij Bosshardt neighbourhood centre in Amsterdam North.
The social side of the activities of the RAI Amsterdam chefs, who normally work in the basements underneath the event complex, reaches even further. Ready and able to cook enough food to feed an average Dutch village, the underground kitchens are one of the best-kept secrets of Amsterdam. At the initiative of Rientz Mulder, executive chef of the basement chefs, the partnership with local Amsterdam suppliers has been expanded to include an even more organic and social focus.
Under the banner of their ‘Heartwarming Amsterdam’ concept, the chefs use an increasing amount of fresh produce from local suppliers. The concept involves cooking with more organic and local produce to give the many international visitors to the RAI a ‘taste of Amsterdam’. It also saves a lot on transport due to the short supply lines.
Fresh and local
“The idea had its origins in my personal interests,” says Mulder. “As an Amsterdammer myself I know there are many fine fresh ingredients to be found in the region. The best products are available right here in the city or in the direct surroundings. We mainly focus on local and vulnerable producers who really need clients such as the RAI.”
Mulder and his colleagues have already developed a significant network of local suppliers, varying from goat’s cheese from the Ridammerhoeve farm in Amsterdam Forest and organic eggs from nearby Muiden to veal from Waterlant's Weelde in Purmerend, just north of the city, Amsterdam sausage from local butcher Hesseling and home-made ketchup with tomatoes from the Stadskwekerij Osdorp city farm.