CTExclusive: Michelin Star Chef Jacob Jan Boerma Revealed His Journey From De Leest To India’s Taj Mahal Hotels

Chef Boerma's culinary philosophy, inspirations, and his vision for the future of fine dining.

by Mallika Khurana
CTExclusive: Michelin Star Chef Jacob Jan Boerma Revealed His Journey From De Leest To India’s Taj Mahal Hotels

Imagine being transported into a world where every bite tells a story of culinary excellence and innovation. Recently, Mumbaikars and Delhiites had the distinct pleasure of experiencing just that, courtesy of Michelin-starred chef Jacob Jan Boerma. Hosted by The Chambers at the iconic Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai and Taj Mahal in New Delhi, this exclusive event, Rendezvous by The Chambers – The Culinary Chronicles, showcased Chef Boerma’s masterful creations, celebrating the richness of Indian produce in a truly unforgettable way. But the experience didn’t end with the feast alone. We were privileged to delve deeper into Chef Boerma’s culinary world, engaging in a conversation that illuminated his inspirations, techniques, and future aspirations. 

Chef Jacob Jan Boerma Redefined Fine Dining In India

Chef Jacob Jan Boerma, hailing from the Netherlands, is a culinary virtuoso renowned for his sophisticated approach to gastronomy. With a career steeped in accolades, including three Michelin stars for his celebrated restaurant, De Leest, Chef Boerma’s journey embodies a dedication to quality and a profound respect for ingredients. His cuisine, characterised by cosmopolitan flair and meticulous attention to detail, seamlessly blends global influences with locally sourced elements, creating dishes that are as visually stunning as they are gastronomically delightful.

At Rendezvous by The Chambers, Chef Boerma delighted guests with an array of dishes that exemplified his culinary ethos. From the Various Textures of Tomatoes to the Indian Curry Flan, each plate was a testament to his commitment to excellence and innovation. The menu also featured delights like Crispy Shrimp, Open Ravioli of Eggplant, and Tempura of Shiso Green and Shiitake, each dish expertly crafted to harmonise with the vibrant diversity of Indian flavours.

We had the exclusive opportunity to delve deeper into Chef Boerma’s culinary world.

1. What Initially Inspired You To Pursue A Career In Culinary Arts?

From a young age, I discovered my passion for cooking. My parents often brought me to Michelin-starred restaurants across Italy, France, and Spain, sparking my love for gastronomy. They always kept the French Michelin guide in the car, which further fueled my interest. This early exposure to the finest culinary experiences ignited a deep fascination within me for the art of cooking.

This is my first visit to India and the Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai and the Taj Mahal, New Delhi. I have already met so many talented chefs; their stories and their love for cuisine are so inspiring. We are from different places but we share the same passion.

2. How Did Your Experiences Working With Renowned Chefs Like Dieter Müller And Roger Souvereyns Influence Your Culinary Style?

Chef Jacob
Photo Credits: Press Release

Chef Jacob Jan Boerma: Dieter Müller and Roger Souvereyns, imparted invaluable lessons that go beyond just cooking techniques. They taught me the essence of running a restaurant with excellence. It’s not only about the quality of food on the plate but also about attention to detail in every aspect of restaurant management. From the clarity of the water and the presence of flowers on the table to the precise closing rituals at the end of service, they instilled in me the importance of these seemingly small details.

3. Your Cuisine Is Known For Its Cosmopolitan Flair And Meticulous Attention To Detail. How Do You Balance Innovation With Tradition In Your Dishes?

While I cherish creating dishes with a cosmopolitan flair, I deeply respect traditional techniques and flavours. It’s about finding harmony between pushing boundaries and honouring culinary heritage. For instance, my adaptation of Indian influences into dishes like the Bombay toastie reflects my exploration of new flavours while paying homage to the rich culinary traditions of India.

4. Having Worked In Various Countries, How Do International Culinary Traditions Influence Your Cooking?

Michelin star chef
Photo Credits: Press Release

Chef Jacob Jan Boerma: International culinary traditions are a treasure trove of inspiration. Each country I’ve worked in has left an indelible mark on my culinary repertoire. The bold spices of Asia, the rich, earthy flavours of European cuisine, and the vibrant, fresh elements of Mediterranean cooking all converge in my kitchen. They remind me that food is a universal language, one that I continually learn and reinterpret.

Also Read: From Naruto’s Ramen To Totoro’s Onigiri, A Beginner’s Guide To Popular Japanese Anime Dishes & How To Make Them

5. How Do You See The Future Of Fine Dining Evolving, Especially In Terms Of Sustainability And Local Sourcing?

The future of fine dining is intrinsically tied to sustainability and local sourcing. I believe fine dining will increasingly focus on celebrating local produce, reducing waste, and adopting practices that respect our planet. This shift not only enhances the dining experience but also fosters a deeper connection between diners and their food.

6. Can You Share A Memorable Piece Of Advice You Received From Your Mentors That Still Guides You Today?

Jacob Jan Boerma
Photo Credits: Press Release

A memorable piece of advice from my mentors that resonates deeply with me is to “let the ingredients speak.” This guiding principle emphasises the importance of respecting and showcasing the natural flavours and textures of each ingredient.

7. Do You Have A Favourite Dish Or Ingredient That You Love To Cook With, And Why?

Chef Jacob Jan Boerma: One of my most beloved dishes is Tuintje, which translates to ‘vegetable garden on the plate’. Tuintje features over 40 different seasonal vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers, all carefully crafted to highlight their natural essence. It’s a dish that evolves with the seasons, celebrating the bounty of our gardens in the summer months when young vegetables are at their peak.

8. When You’re Not Cooking Professionally, What Type Of Food Do You Enjoy Eating At Home?

michelin food India
Photo Credits: Press Release

When I’m not cooking, I still find myself immersed in culinary activities, so I often have others cook for me. Given my background in fine dining, I particularly enjoy street food for its simplicity, comfort, and quick preparation. A favourite of mine is the Indian toastie.

9. Are There Any New Projects Or Restaurants You’re Currently Working On That You’re Particularly Excited About?

I’ll hopefully open my new restaurant at the end of this year in the north of Italy and I will also open a new restaurant in Belgium.

10. How Do You Tailor Your Menus For Different Audiences, Such As The Guests At The Chambers Events?

taj mahal hotel
Photo Credits: Press Release

Chef Jacob Jan Boerma: Adapting menus for different audiences, like the guests at The Chambers events, is about respecting local flavours and ingredients while incorporating my own culinary style. I draw inspiration from local ingredients and collaborate closely with the talented chefs there. For instance, incorporating local sweet potatoes and creating a sauce infused with saffron and Indian spices showcases my interpretation of Indian flavours in a unique way. This helps me to deliver a memorable dining experience that resonates with guests and celebrates the richness of Indian cuisine. I am also eager to experiment with local and seasonal ingredients in my cooking at The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai and the Taj Mahal, New Delhi, for the Culinary Chronicles – Rendezvous by The Chambers.

11. If You Could Cook A Meal For Anyone, Living Or Historical, Who Would It Be And Why?

If I could cook for anyone, it would be the Pope. His dedication to caring for so many people around the world, with a deep sense of identity and compassion, is truly inspiring. Cooking for someone like him would be a profound honour.

Chef Jacob Jan Boerma’s visit to India and his collaboration with The Chambers were not just about creating exceptional dishes. It was also about crafting memorable experiences that celebrate the artistry of food. 

His culinary legacy continues to inspire, setting new standards for gastronomy worldwide.

Cover Image Courtesy: Press Release

For more such snackable content, interesting discoveries and the latest updates on food, travel and experiences in your city, download the Curly Tales App. Download HERE.