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Vanja van der Leeden

Vanja van der Leeden - foto Remko Kraaijeveld
Vanja van der Leeden - foto Remko Kraaijeveld

(The Netherlands, 1976) is a cookbook and culinary writer with a background as a professional chef. Her favourite themes are Indonesian, Italian and healthy. She has cooked for various restaurants in The Hague and Amsterdam. She is a columnist for Dutch TV culinary and talk shows, and can regularly be seen on the food-nerd channel Foodtube and as TV chef on a Flemish channel. Together with her husband, the food photographer Remko Kraaijeveld, she created the cookbooks Indorock (2019, which won the Golden Cookbook prize), Indostok (2020, focused on saté), Insane: gekmakend lekker en best gezond (Insane: Maddeningly Delicious and Quite Healthy, 2022) en Italopop: Italiaans, maar dan anders (Italopop: Italian, but Different, 2023).


Archive available for: Vanja van der Leeden

  • Writers Unlimited 2024

    You Are What You Eat - Table tales from cookbook authors about taste and culture

    With: Hassnae Bouazza, Judith Cyrus, Sun Li, Vanja van der Leeden

    In You Are What You Eat, we dived into the tasty world of culinary tales with chefs and cookbook authors. Because experiences and memories are shared through tastes and dishes, just as through books. A specific flavour can call up powerful emotions, just like a carefully chosen word.

    Together with Vanja van der Leeden (Indorock; Insane), Judith Cyrus (Paramaribo; Toespijs), Sun Li (Chin. Ind. Rest. Kookboek) and Hassnae Bouazza (Spicy Chef; Spicy Chef: Streetfood; Een koffer vol citroenen), we moved from the secret corners of grandmother's kitchen -- handed down from generation to generation, often orally -- to contemporary kitchens where dishes are sometimes given a surpising twist. And of course we dream a bit about the future: how do we make sure that coming generations keep sharing these tasty stories?

    Chef, food stylist and author Vanja van der Leeden, Dutch with Indonesian roots, has become a name in Dutch cuisine thanks to her cookbook Indorock, the saté book Indostok, and her latest recipe- and storybook Insane ("easily delicious and quite healthy").

    Judith Cyrus is a chef, runs Amsterdam-based lunchroom De Buitenvrouw and writes about cooking and food. She grew up in a Surinamese family in The Netherlands, where her mother brought her up with classic Surinamese dishes but also with oysters, asparagus and a glass of wine. In 2021 she publishes her first cookbook: Paramaribo, een culinaire smeltkroes (Paramaribo: A culinary melting pot) and in 2023 her second: Toespijs, Creools-Caribische gerechten (Toespijs, Creole-Caribbean dishes).

    Sun Li debuted in 2016 with De zoetzure smaak van dromen: het familieverhaal achter een Chinees restaurant (The Bittersweet Taste of Dreams: the family story behind a Chinese Restaurant). In 2023, Chin. Ind. Rest. kookboek appeared, which Li wrote with Danny Lee, Ka Fai Lee and Yan Ting Yuen. Besides classics like babi pangang, bami, foe yong hai and koe loe kai, it includes dishes eaten by the staff themselves, and looks back on the history of these restaurants in The Netherlands.

    November 2023, Chin. Ind. Rest. Kookbook was awarded the expert jury prize Food and Friends Golden Cookbook 2023. From the jury report: 'The book is of great cultural, gastronomic and historical value and deals with a cuisine that belongs to the heart of the culinary heritage of the Low Countries. It convincingly shows why Chinese-Indonesian restaurant culture was added to the list of Dutch intangible cultural heritage in 2020. With a fine introduction on the history of this cuisine, personal portraits of entrepreneurs and chefs as well as a wealth of dishes (inviting every home cook to get into the kitchen) this is the undisputed winner. Truly all the classics of the takeaway menu pass the review. "What happens behind the pusher, stays behind the pusher" no longer holds true.'

    The moderator was author Hassnae Bouazza, who wrote Spicy Chef (2020) and Spicy Chef: Streetfood (2022) together with Michelin-starred chef Soenil Bahadoer -- two culinary books with stories and Surinamese-Indian recipes. In 2022 she also published her "life's work" Een koffer vol citroenen (A Suitcase Full of Lemons), a requiem for and portrait of her mother.