First Day I Got My Michelin Stars: Richard van Oostenbrugge of Bord’Eau Restaurant Gastronomique

We get the world's most celebrated chefs to spill what it was like when they got their first Michelin stars.
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It's a pretty picture that greets you when you step into two-Michelin-starred Bord’Eau Restaurant Gastronomique in luxury hotel De L’Europe. Here, ceiling-to-floor glass windows offer sparkling views of the charming city of Amsterdam.

Helming the restaurant is executive chef Richard van Oostenbrugge. The Dutchman's love for cooking started when he realised his day job as a dishwasher in the kitchen was more interesting than studying economics at night. He started his career in Gstaad in southwestern Switzerland, where he worked alongside several top chefs honing the exacting French techniques that he is known for today. Van Oostenbrugge arrived in Amstersam in 2008, where he became executive chef of De L'Europe two years later, overseeing the hotel's restaurants and bars. He led Bord'Eau to its first Michelin star just two years after.

Today, van Oostenbrugge continues to execute dishes with precision and beautiful plating. A dessert simply called Apple, for instance, is presented in the form of a crisp sugary granny smith apple tart with a core of apple sorbet encased in a fragile blown sugar bubble.

"I think it is very important for a chef to have a recognisable style when cooking food and to be original," he says. "What we must try to do is to create a dish we ourselves have not seen or tasted before, and I like it when the food provides a moment of surprise."
Green Apple dessert by Richard van Oostenbrugge
Green Apple dessert by Richard van Oostenbrugge
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My first encounter with the Michelin Guide was... when two (Michelin) inspectors had lunch in the restaurant and asked if they could see the kitchen. I was of course very nervous and curious of what they thought of the food. We had to wait for seven more months after that visit to hear that we received a star.

The first time my team and I earned a star was... in December 2012, when i was working for restaurant Bord’Eau. We got a second star the year after, something that for me was simply unbelievable!

The first thing I did when I realised we had won a star was... Call my girlfriend and the rest of the team. It was an unbelievable day and we got so many congratulations from chefs around the country. It was our dream to get awarded a star and we had a huge celebration when we found out that we did!
Langoustine poached in duck fat with ‘katsuobushi Albufeira’ and coffee
Langoustine poached in duck fat with ‘katsuobushi Albufeira’ and coffee
How much influence has the Michelin Guide had on your life and career? 
The influence the Michelin guide has had on my career is immense. Especially after being awarded with a second star, the amount of attention you get is very surprising. It meant the restaurant being more busy, and more young chefs want to come and work for you. It also gives you more self-confidence, which helps you create better dishes.

The guests are also more critical. They come with very high expectations, and because we want to meet those expectations, we become even more focussed on delivering. In a way, this makes our restaurant better, I feel.

My advice for young chefs aiming for Michelin stars is…
Create your own identity and style in the taste of your food. I think it is very important that chefs actually sit down, taste and be critical of their own food.

Recommended: View more stories in the First Day I Got My Stars series here.

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Richard van Oostenbrugge will be in town for to star as the guest chef in the second edition of Resort World Sentosa's Art at Curate dining series from 5 May to 13 May. Click here for more information.
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