Xavier Giesen and chef Luc Kusters run Bolenius restaurant, which opened its doors in 2010 and has a Michelin star since 2016. Xavier received the GaultMillau Host of the Year Award 2016. He writes a column, reporting from their kitchen at the Zuidas.

Xavier van Bolenius

Xavier Giesen

From the moment we opened Bolenius restaurant at the Zuidas seven years ago, we garnered a lot of attention. Apart from receiving excellent reviews in the press and winning the Amsterdam Sustainability Award, our name figures in the list of the world’s 25 best vegetable restaurants. And Michelin decided to include us in their famous red guide and award us a star in 2016.

When our chef put the first pot on the stove in our kitchen at the ground floor of the Symphony Résidence building, the Zuidas was mainly a place to work, with very few people actually living here. In the meantime, more than 2,000 new residents moved into their apartments and that number will only increase.

Vegetable garden of Bolenius

Our dream to grow vegetables and herbs in the immediate vicinity of our restaurant became reality when we started using a piece of land measuring 5,000 m2 (54,000 ft2). During harvest time, we needed to outsmart the rabbits. Well, we managed to do that but we couldn’t keep the project developers at bay. After three years, we had to find a different location and the Intermezzo residential tower was built right where our vegetable garden used to be.

Fortunately, we found a new spot: the rooftop garden of our neighbours, Kindergarden Zuidas. It’s only 120 m2 (1,300 ft2) so it is tiny but a lot more manageable. And there are no rabbits!

Moestuin van de zuidas

Vegetable garden of the Zuidas

Kale from own garden

Gardener Anton Meesters, a familiar face at the Zuidas, comes in every week to work our field. This how we enable our chefs to get their daily harvest of vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and fruit. We grow things year round; in winter, we harvest veggies like kale and miner’s lettuce.

Of course, we’re not 100% self-sufficient but our chefs really like working hands-on with these vegetables. In fact, it is the signature of our restaurant.

Vegetable garden of the Zuidas

And the garden was the inspiration behind our chef’s signature dish, ‘The Zuidas vegetable garden’, which is now a fixture on our menu. This ‘edible garden’ consists of more than twenty different seasonal vegetables, all prepared in a special way.