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“I regularly catch myself thinking about new GZG ideas and ways to improve what we are doing, plus I got more skilled at cooking for a large number of people”

‘I moved to Rotterdam in January 2021 and joined the Vegan Rotterdam group on Facebook. There was a post about GZG and how they were looking for chefs and since I love cooking, totally support the cause and was looking to meet new people in this new city, GZG seemed like the perfect addition to my life.

I’m originally from Raalte, Overijssel, and have been living in Amsterdam for the past 12 years. I’m a cultural historian by day and a musician at night. I’ve been a vegan for 4/5 years approximately? When I was 9, I quit eating meat because of the animals. Going vegan was the logical next step. We don’t need animal products anymore; there’s more than enough tasty alternatives that are healthier and better for the planet that doesn’t include animal harm.’

Vegan cooking

‘For me, cooking is a bit like magic. I really like being creative with different techniques and combinations. Vegan cooking in particular requires you to get extra creative; baking without eggs is a good example.

I joined thinking I would mainly be a chef (and I have been), but I also really enjoy the harvesting at Wilgenplantsoen. I have been recently added to the GZG “instigators” because I wanted to get more involved in the organisation and the new Mengelmoes concept. I’ve got some ideas for reorganising the kitchen as well, to allow for more creativity and learning amongst the chefs.’

“A GZG cookbook would be awesome, wouldn’t it?”

GZG’s developments and plans

‘The kitchen reorganization… it’s gonna be a chance for us to get more experimental in the kitchen! We’ll be cooking for 20-25 people instead of the 40-50 people we cooked for during the take-out period. This means we’ve got more time to think about what we want to cook and take our preparation seriously, instead of peeling and slicing vegetables like maniacs from the moment we walk into the kitchen. As far as the kitchen reorganization goes, I don’t want to give away too much without having tried these new ideas out first, but they’re all aimed at having more fun and learning more about vegan cooking in the GZG kitchen.

The Mengelmoes concept is a new covid-proof version of the group dinners, which aims to emphasize the social dimension of GZG, rather than just a place to get a free meal. We try to mix up the volunteers and visitors as much as possible every week and start the night with a fun challenge to inspire conversation. Theme nights are a part of the concept as well. The aim of the concept is to engage more with our guests and to focus more on the quality (rather than quantity) of the food/visitors/dinner itself.’

The value and future of GZG

‘GZG has brought me a lot. I met a lot of great new people at GZG and continue to meet new people there every week. It has given me a creative boost as well: I regularly catch myself thinking about new GZG ideas and ways to improve what we are doing, plus I got more skilled at cooking for a large number of people. To me, it’s all about the people you meet and the exchange of experience, knowledge and skill.

I hope GZG will keep growing and extend to other cities. My efforts will mainly be focused on improving our cooking – as I’m thinking about it right now, a GZG cookbook would be awesome, wouldn’t it?’