Who cooks and eats here: Wendelien Sluis
Where: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Rent or Own? Own
Wendelien is one of the lucky 2,400 inhabitants who get to live in a houseboat permanently moored on the 17th century canal system that Amsterdam is so well known for. A passionate cook, her kitchen is functional and well-equipped, with full-length windows that create a bright, airy atmosphere for cooking — and with a gorgeous view of the water at all times!
When we first arrive at Wendelien's houseboat, we wait on the deck out back and admire the homegrown gherkins and the old anchor propped up against the side of the canal. Soon Wendelien cycles up to the water on her elegant red bike, the same bike she regularly takes to the nearby market to collect her fresh ingredients.
The first thing you notice when you enter her houseboat is how the open space is completely flooded with light, even on this typical gray Amsterdam day. Windows that run the length of the house and along the ceiling let in tons of light. Minimal, modern furniture and fittings are well balanced with antique market finds and family heirlooms that bring a sense of warmth and care.
Cooking is Wendelien's great love. (The bookshelves in the living area that contain cookbooks and cookbooks alone attest to this, as do the trophy stains on the rustic, concrete countertop.) But after a recent body transformation, Wendelien has found a new love in raw food, and now her kitchen toys and cupboards overflow with individually labeled jars of raw ingredients that reflect her newfound passion. We eat home-dried apple slices whilst chatting and sorting through her late grandmother's collection of old Dutch recipes. Wendelien picks out a couple of classics, so it looks like that stove is going to see some action again soon enough!
10 Questions for Wendelien (and Her Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
Food has always been an integral part of my family and social life. My family always loved cooking and dining together. My grandfather had great taste in food and would always take us to good restaurants; I think that’s where my love of food started and this continues to inspire my cooking style.
I like kitchen materials that looked lived-in; I appreciate the marks that come with use and time, like my concrete countertop.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
I love my grater and I’m starting to get to know my new dehydrator, but my favorite element is my grandmother's old collection of recipes.
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
I did a pop-up for 30 people with the theme of 'floating.' The menu included floating cloud soup made with wontons, chicory boats with butterbeans and Japanese chicken sails, prawns in life jackets and stranded filo boats on a pineapple island.
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
I never have enough space – houseboats are quite small! Since I've changed my cooking style to include more raw food preparation, I feel that I need much more space.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
If I could create more space I would, but I've done the best with the space I have.
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
I'm about to buy the new model Vitamix. It's not yet available in Europe so I'm having it shipped from the States.
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
Besides the Vitamix, I also want a dishwasher upgrade and I constantly keep an eye out for additions to my vintage tea collection. I also like to pick up interesting kitchen items when I’m traveling.
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
Messy and experimental! I like to use pure ingredients, lots of herbs, and I love a spicy kick.
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
I've done many cooking courses – in Japan, Thailand, Holland and the States, but I can't think of one specific tip. Maybe I don't really listen to tips or advice!
10. What are you cooking this week?
A raw lemon pie. I also want to make something with the zucchinis that need harvesting from the garden, so maybe a zucchini soup.
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(Images: Mara Pellizzari)