A Culinary Journey

A Culinary Journey

When you learn how to prepare a dish from Chef Sidney Schutte, you’ll do more than follow a recipe. You’ll be following the culinary journey of the 2-Michelin Star chef from his native Netherlands across the world, to Hong Kong and, ultimately, Los Cabos, Mexico, where he directs restaurant Cocina de Autor at The Grand Velas Los Cabos.

Images courtesy of Gastón Arellano Galicia.

As beautiful as Chef Schutte’s creations are in presentation, there’s an exquisite inner beauty that reflects the diversity of his international experience. Recently Chef Schutte shared his thoughts with Here & Beyond – on the culinary world and his unique place in it. To make our world even better, he shared one of his signature dishes.

H&B: Was there an epiphany moment when you knew you wanted to be a chef, or did the idea take some time to marinate?

Schutte: When I was 15 years old, my mother told me if I wanted to buy something for myself I needed to work for it. So, I started stewarding at a very busy restaurant. The moment I saw the chef cooking, I was immediately attracted to it and I wanted to do the same. At 15, I was already a “commis chef.” In Netherlands, this is the entry level position. I did simple jobs like washing salad, cutting strawberries and tomatoes – and I loved it.

H&B: You’ve traveled the world extensively in becoming a world-class chef. What were some of the key places and influences in your journey?

Schutte: When I was 30 years old I took a break for one year. I wanted to travel around the world to see different cultures, countries and, especially, taste different food. Everywhere you go you taste flavors that you never tasted before. Spices, vegetables, preparations. I landed in Hong Kong, which for me is one of the most exiting food cities in the world. Every country in the world is represented in its restaurant scene. The next amazing kitchen to discover was the Mexican kitchen. I heard a lot about it but wasn’t familiar with it. When the opportunity came to cook for Cocina de Autor at the beautiful Grand Velas Los Cabos, another dream came true – tasting a lot of Mexican food and discovering the Mexican culture and heritage.

H&B: Cocina de Autor translates to “signature cuisine.” What do you want your guests to take away from a dining experience signed by Chef Schutte?

Schutte: I like to surprise my guests with things they have never seen or eaten before. That means small, super tasty, powerful dishes with flavors I have discovered all over the world – all lined up in a big tasting menu.

H&B: Your bio says you’re inspired by every ingredient in your creations. Are there certain locally sourced ingredients that inspire your menu at Cocina de Autor?

Schutte: Yes, the ingredient I use a lot in Los Cabos that really makes me happy is almeja de chocolate (chocolate clam) and Lobina (sea bass), which is a very nice fish to work with.

H&B: Let’s say four Here & Beyond readers have been seated at Cocina de Autor for dinner and drinks. What do you personally recommend?  

Schutte: We start with a crispy Tuna Bubble. This is a crispy small sort of a balloon made from seaweed with mild spicy filet of American tuna and crème from toasted brioche bread (see photo gallery). Another favorite dish is a combination of Mexico and Holland. It’s the chocolate clam with Bouillon of Piccalilli (a typical Dutch food), savory ice cream of roasted bell peppers in BBQ’d Mangalitsa. For the main course, we will serve lamb that is roasted and cooked in hay and served with onion confit in hay butter with anchovy cream. The combination of lamb and anchovies is one of my most favorite combinations for lamb. These two things go very well together (see photo gallery).

H&B: You kindly shared one of your signature entrees with us. Please tell us about it, and what goes into creating a truly special meal.

Schutte: Baby mackerel with red beetroot, sesame seeds, bay leaves, smoked haddock liver and baked mustard seeds. This dish offers an unusual, yet well-balanced combination with a distinctive smoky note. And for a dessert, my personal favorite is the avocado sorbet. It looks just like a slice of avocado, but is a sliver of delicious sorbet, with the shell lovingly crafted from chocolate. It’s a combination that always leaves unsuspecting guests utterly amazed. The development of a new dish is a never-ending process. Sometimes it takes a week, and sometimes it takes a month to six months before a dish is exactly as you have always imagined it.