Chef Evelien de Bot came to Binghamton University from the Netherlands this fall as part of Sodexo’s Global Chef program. This international chef residency program provides an opportunity for Sodexo chefs to travel worldwide to share their cuisine and culture.
On Thursday Oct. 5, de Bot worked with the Binghamton University Dining Services (BUDS) team at Hinman Dining Hall, showcasing a menu featuring kibbling — a Dutch snack consisting of battered chunks of fish — with ravigote sauce, wintery pea soup, chicory salad and more. In addition to these dishes, students won prizes and learned about Dutch culture with trivia games. BUDS employees and Baxter Bearcat also engaged in the fun, wearing orange shirts to represent the national color of the Netherlands. Dutch flags and decorations surrounded the kitchen and traditional music was provided.
Two Dutch students who are currently studying abroad at Binghamton, Maud Stoffer and Moore Slager, tabled at the event with the Office of International Education and Global Initiatives. Stoffer and Slager’s home college is Utrecht University, located in the Netherlands. They spoke with de Bot and their peers about their experience at Binghamton, Dutch culture and the education abroad program.
“It was nice speaking our language with the chef since we only really speak Dutch with each other,” said Stoffer. “The music really brings back memories and it’s fun to see people here trying the Dutch cuisine.”
On Oct. 6, de Bot held two cooking demos at the Culinary MakerSpace, a commercial-grade kitchen located on the ground floor of the Hinman Dining Center that provides a professional environment for students who want to explore their culinary interests. Culinary Institute of America student externs assisted de Bot as she prepared loaded fries and Dutch beef stew. After the cooking demo, attendees sampled the fries and stew, along with hutspot (mashed potatoes, carrots and onions), cheesecake with a spiced shortcrust biscuit crust known as speculaas, mulled grape cider and pumpkin salad.
During lunch, students and staff had an opportunity to speak with de Bot further, asking her questions about her recipes and herself.
De Bot grew up on her parents’ barge in the Netherlands. From a young age, she knew she loved cooking. Initially, she pursued a teaching degree until she decided to follow her passion and become a professional chef. This led to Sodexo offering her a chance to share her knowledge with the world. De Bot’s culinary mission is to “make vegetables taste as delicious as possible.” She advised students to find out what works best for them through exploration and, most importantly, education.
“Before cooking vegetables, learn more about the vegetables by going to a farmer’s market, trying new things and learning how they are grown,” said de Bot. “Go on social media, find your favorite influencer and see how they prepare vegetables. Even I try new things to enrich my life — you never stop learning.”