Acknowledged to be one of the best in the world, the steady rise of French cuisine reached its zenith during the old regime (ancien régime, French), when Paris used to be the seat of European culture, in all its glory. Cooks from all over the world found there a place to practice their craft, and contributed greatly to the French cooking art, leaving behind recipes, skilled students and whole guides of their expertise.
Now the times have changed, as talented cooks can prove their mastery almost everywhere. While walking along the multicultural streets of cities like Amsterdam, you can often feel the gastronomical touch of so many cultures and French culture is no exception. There are several spots from where you can introduce yourself to the traditional dishes of France, where you can actually feel the true whiff of the many centuries of French culinary experience.
As culinary connoisseurs ourselves, we from Amsterdo would like to tell you about such a place. It is called A La Ferme (at the Farm), located on the typical, quaint Dutch street at Govert Flinckstraat, 251.
The atmosphere of the place is felt at the very beginning, as you enter though the doors, hospitably wide open. Then the tired visitor immediately feels the ambient comfort radiating from the interior. The soft lights, earthy brown wooden floors, velvet fabrics in soft colors create a truly cozy mood, while the remarkable pictures on the walls, with motifs related to farms, conveys the message in a simple, yet stylish and effective interior. On your way, you have a good chance of coming across the cheerful owner, Mr.Ben van Geelen who, in spite of being the busy executive chef, is always happy to meet his guests.
In the warm ambience of the restaurant we realized that, apart from being a master chef, the proprietor is also an excellent speaker who shared some of the experiences of his life. He told us of how he happened to chose the profession of a chef at a very young age, a long time ago. Hearing the call of a culinary career, he did not waste any time and started practicing his chosen profession at the tender age of fourteen. In the process, he got a chance to work and learn from some of the most experienced chefs of the time.
And as free spirits like him often do at some point or other in their lives, he decided to travel, and made it to the distant Mozambique with his wife, where he had a chance to hone his culinary skills and begin a new and exciting way of life.
After gaining some more valuable experience, and the satisfaction of having come across a new culture, Ben returned to his native land and to Amsterdam. It was then that he was struck by the important realization, that he had to do something more than that he was doing then. His simple philosophy of striving to achieve what brings him pleasure, along with what he could do in practice, led him to choose the right goal for all his expertise, the chance of doing something positive for him and his family, in short the establishing of his very own restaurant, his life’s dream.
Now, after four and a half years in business, and as the proprietor with twenty-six years of rich culinary experience behind him, A La Farme has became a reality, and had earned the reputation of being one of the finest French restaurants in Amsterdam. And what is the secret of this reputation, apart from the renowned mastery of his cooks? Just one secret! Well, not entirely a secret, as Ben proudly shared it with us and his other guests an extremely remarkable fact: every single dish at La Ferme remains homemade. Everything, from the piquant, complex sauces made from the right ingredients, to the warm loaves of freshly baked bread, everything is created within the confines of the famed restaurant, on the spot. He visits the surrounding farms, from where he get his supplies of cheese and other dairy products, to ensure that his clientele has nothing but the best, fresh from the farm.
However, as they say on TV, there was more. Ben explained something rather extraordinary about the meat he serves. It comes in the form of the actual animal, with he himself entering the role of a butcher in order to choose the choicest parts to be cooked for his customers. So, if you are visiting the restaurant and start wondering how come your meal is so fresh and succulent, remember that the watchful eye of the owner has chosen the very best.
After we heard all this, we asked Mr. Van Geelen whether he had plans to expand his business at which he smiled genially and said no. For he himself is the restaurant and how could he split himself into so many new restaurants? He attends to even to the most trivial tasks, and always tries to get in touch with the clients, to let them bask in the culinary atmosphere he has so thoughtfully created for them, and the simple satisfaction of doing things by means of his labor. As he said, people expect him to be there always, with a welcoming smile, ready to recommend what would best suit their palates.
Restaurant A La Ferme
Govert Flinckstraat 251
1073 BX Amsterdam
T. +31 (0)20 6798240