Ode to 't Kalkoentje

Ode to 't Kalkoentje

The taste of classic French cuisine, we love it. Chef Nico Klaver combines it with new techniques, and reckon a lot of them have come along in 35 years of playing restaurant. WINELIFE was allowed to sit in on the anniversary lunch of his 'Turkey' which was all about mastery. A retrospective in text and pictures.
Text: Marjolein Schuman

Ode to 't Kalkoentje

Rhenen is rich in restaurants: Het Oude Gemeentehuis, Sal do Mar, De Koning van Denemarken, 't Kalkoentje and we haven't even mentioned half of them. The wooded surroundings of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug, the Betuwe on the other side of the Rhine and the Veluwe further afield attract many visitors to the historic and culinary town. We are here today because 't Kalkoentje is 35 years old and a celebratory lunch is being prepared. The guests of honour are gastronomy icon and former star chef Paul Fagel and Arjan Speelman, executive chef of two-star restaurant Ciel Bleu in Amsterdam.

What are turkeys?

The term 'Kalkoeners' will fall frequently this afternoon: they are the people who belong and have belonged to Nico's team, for long or short periods of time. That they ended up at other top restaurants after their apprenticeship, he is only proud of that. We speak to Nico prior to lunch on the terrace overlooking the Lower Rhine, where guests gather with a glass of champagne in hand.
Nico: 'Great to have you here. I wanted to celebrate this anniversary intimately, I invited many old employees, because without them I wouldn't have made it. Their children used to play in this garden, they are here now. Once a Turkey, always a Turkey!'

Is it very different here from 35 years ago?

Nico: 'Today's turkey, of course, is nothing like the turkey of old. But I too have changed. I was 26 when I took over the business and I'm 61 now. The interior has changed and the kitchen. But first of all our guests: 35 years ago it was 80 per cent business guests and 20 per cent private, that is now reversed.'

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