So simple and so good
Double-star Hot Dog Chef
Now I can concentrate on what I truly have fun doing. » «
Faded jeans, casual sneakers, army jacket: dismounting from his bright orange retro Vespa in front of his hot dog restaurant The Fat Dog, Ron Blaauw cuts a rock star figure. The high-profile chef demonstrated a fitting rock star attitude in 2013 when he decided – seemingly overnight – to dispense with his two Michelin stars, just as the guide had held out to him the prospect of a third one.
But Ron Blaauw had lost interest – both in haute cuisine and in the rigid star-rating rules. “I was always looking left and right, turning to other top restaurants for inspiration,” he says. “And at some point it wasn’t coming from the heart – it wasn’t me anymore.” So he dared to take a leap. Ron Blaauw now operates several restaurants, including The Fat Dog. His speciality? Hot dogs with ingredients from around the world.
Trendy eatery The Fat Dog
The atmosphere in Amsterdam’s Ruysdaelkade in the city’s hip De Pijp neighbourhood is comfortable and warm. The sun is shining, a motor scooter clatters by in the distance, a boat makes its leisurely way up the canal. Ron Blaauw sits outside The Fat Dog, bites into his hot dog – the “Naughty Bangkok”, with ginger and lemon grass – and sips a beer. Guests are arriving, a good number of them from abroad.
What has changed for Ron Blaauw? A great deal, he explains. “When you’ve got two stars, you pay attention to every detail. A scrap of paper in the street, a gnat in the dining room, fingerprints on the windows.” Today he focuses on the essentials: tasty food in a good atmosphere at a reasonable price. The dishes are simpler, the concept is clearer: four or five basic high-quality ingredients brought together under a creative idea. So it seemed an obvious move to open a restaurant that specialised in a single dish in a range of variations.
The Fat Dog is outfitted in a laid-back style, with plain furnishings inside and beer tables outside, street art on doors and walls, complemented by a picture of the bulldog that gave the restaurant its name. Ron Blaauw hit on the idea of the hot dog, the snack culture classic, on a trip to New York. “We always had dinner in expensive restaurants,” he says. “And every evening on the way back to the hotel, my son asked the same question: ‘Dad, can I have a hot dog?’ To me, a hot dog is like a gift – a little something that makes you happy. And what chef doesn’t want to make his guests happy?”