Anthony Joseph is joint chef-proprietor of Restaurant Fraîche, which he launched in Amsterdam two years ago. He tells Janet Harmer how he enjoys the city for its slow pace and high quality of life
What do you like about living and working in Amsterdam? I spend a lot more time with my family here as the pace of life is not high-energy. I travel everywhere by bike, including going to and from work and especially when doing the day-to-day shopping for the restaurant. It is a perfect setting.
What do you not like? It was very difficult to learn the language as everyone here speaks fluent English. When you try to converse with the locals in their language, they quickly realise you are not Dutch and immediately speak English. Also, the weather is the same as in the UK.
How easy was it for you to set up your own restaurant in Amsterdam? Starting a business here was very easy, in fact easier than buying a house. After we saw the property, we made an offer, which was accepted straightaway. We exchanged documents and opened within four weeks.
What is the style and setting of the restaurant?
Can you provide a flavour of your menu? We change the menu weekly. Some of the stand-out dishes include braised octopus with roasted scallops and oyster, white radish and tobiko aioli dressing; roasted sea bass, almond purée, smoked heirloom tomato broth, fine herbs; and bitter chocolate fondant, avocado and white chocolate ganache.
What is the key vibe of the restaurant scene in Amsterdam? There is a strong focus on bistro-style restaurants as no one wants to pay premium prices for food any more. The owner of a two-star restaurant I know has given his stars back and changed the concept of the business into a bistro.
As chef-proprietor, how much time do you spend in the kitchen? I still put in a good 10 hours a day.
Is it easy to recruit staff in Amsterdam? It is very difficult to recruit good staff in Holland because it's getting more and more difficult for chefs or front-of-house staff to want to put in the hours. We employ one Dutch person front of house.
Are there many British people working in the hospitality industry in Amsterdam? There is a big group of expats in Amsterdam, but as I am always working, it is difficult to get time out to liaise with them unless they come in and eat at the restaurant.
Is there a financial advantage to running a restaurant in the Netherlands, compared with the UK? I would not say there is a financial advantage to owning a business here because the taxes are a lot higher. However, the standard of life in the Netherlands is better. People want more and want to â¨spend less.
Do you think your career has flourished more overseas than it would have done in the UK? I think my career actually flourished more in the UK. I chose to be here for a better way of life, while bringing up my children and opening up a business.
Is there anywhere else in the world you would rather work? If I could choose another location in the world to work, it would be Thailand. I love the people and the food culture; we go there every year for a holiday.
Do you intend to work in the UK? I do not see myself coming back to work in the UK in the foreseeable future. I am only 40 minutes away by plane, so I can easily get home often.
CV Anthony Joseph
â- 2011-present Chef-proprietor, Restaurant FraÁ®che, Amsterdam
â- 2005-2010 Head chef in consecutive positions at four restaurants and hotels in Amsterdam
â- 2003-2004 Head chef, Restaurant 1880, Bentley hotel, London
â- 2001-2003 Head chef, Restaurant 1837, Brown's hotel, London
â- 1998-2001 Senior sous chef in consecutive roles for Marco Pierre White at the Oak Room, the Mirabelle, and the Belvedere in Holland Park, London
â- 1995-1998 Head chef, Berkeley hotel, London
â- 1993-1994 Junior sous chef, the Grand hotel, Amsterdam
â- 1992-1993 Commis chef, the Canteen, London