Executive Chef Kelt Hugo Maat is happiest when he can utilize fresh ingredients as he exercises his unique culinary expertise. But what’s a chef to do when there are very few local farms? This is the case in Aruba, where local agricultural efforts are few and far between. In spite of this challenge, Chef Kelt still prioritizes fresh ingredients, including local and organic whenever possible. Below we’ll say more about this. But first, we have a confession to make: The featured image for this blog post probably made you think we are growing some of our own ingredients. That happens to be true, but the picture is actually showing one of our first creative desserts! It’s a special chocolate mousse recipe served up in a little terracotta planter with a sprig of fresh borage cress!
Sourcing Ingredients: Growing Our Own
We are excited to be growing some of what we use, and we do it right inside the restaurant. How is that possible? It is thanks to the high-tech equipment we obtained from Urban Cultivator. What we grow in-house depends on our current menu, and we’ll be changing our menu every two months. Right now, what we’re growing in the cultivator includes the following:
- Affilla Cress: This microgreen is related to the sugar pea and is valued for its unusual decorative shape as well as its sweet flavor.
- Borage Cress: This is a cucumber-flavored herb that originated around the Mediterranean. It has a lovely clean, refreshing taste with somewhat salty notes.
- Fennel: This herb is a flowering plant in the carrot family. It has yellow flowers and feathery leaves reminiscent of dill. Its flavor and aroma is similar to anise.
- Dill: Most people are familiar with this aromatic herb and its delicate, feathery leaves. It is in the parsley family
- Nasturtium: This is another flowering plant many are familiar with growing in flower gardens, but its tangy, peppery taste comes in handy in all kinds of dishes.
- Chives: Closely related to garlic, shallots, leeks and scallions, chives have an oniony flavor with hints of garlic.
- Lemon Basil: When it’s fresh, this herb has a distinctly lemon fragrance with a lot of sweetness in the background.
You’ll love how we use these microgreens in each and every dish you savor during your SENSES Fine Dining experience, and you’ll know we grew them in-house organically! In addition to unbeatable freshness, growing some of our microgreens means a smaller environmental impact since they don’t have to be shipped or delivered by vehicles – fewer carbon dioxide emissions is always a good thing!
Sourcing Ingredients: Cultivating Relationships with Suppliers
While growing some of our own microgreens is immensely satisfying, there are lots of other ingredients we have to source from places near and far, including the following:
- PUURgroenten: We get many of our other microgreens and mini vegetables from this Dutch company. Its products are top-quality and grown in a sustainable fashion indoors, with most of the power needed for its greenhouses coming from solar panels.
- Petite Greens Aruba: We’re also beginning to get some of our other microgreens from this local supplier right here in Aruba.
- Rungis Market: For our other vegetable needs, we currently rely on the world’s largest fresh produce market located in France.
Some of our fruits are coming from Colombia, most of our meats from the Netherlands, and seafood from Norway. We’re constantly looking to cultivate relationships with more local suppliers whenever possible, but it’s a real challenge in Aruba! So, in many cases we go with what we know best from our previous restaurant experience as we continue to look for new suppliers closer to One Happy Island!