Vicky Hampton is a writer and runs food blog www.amsterdamfoodie.nl
Where do you live?
What made you come to Amsterdam?
Originally I studied here. I was at Edinburgh University studying English literature and I had the opportunity to spend my third year aboard under the Erasmus exchange programme. It was a bit of a lucky dip as there were seven cities to choose from and I had not been to any of them before. Helsinki sounded a bit cold; Zurich sounded a bit boring, and so on. It was a very unscientific process of elimination that I ended up in Amsterdam. I know it does not make a lot of sense to study English literature in the Netherlands, but the experience was fantastic and I fell in love with Amsterdam as soon as I got here.
How long have you been here?
I arrived in 2001 for my exchange year and then briefly moved back to the UK, returning permanently in 2006.
Can you speak Dutch?
I do speak Dutch. I can say everything I need to say from a functional perspective. But as a British person, I think that sense of humour is so much a part of your personality, and it frustrates me that I can’t quite express that humour in Dutch.
Where are you from in the UK?
Pangbourne – it’s a little village between Reading and Oxford.
What do you do now?
I’m a writer, but my activities are much broader than that. I do freelance translation, social media and content marketing as well.
I think that most people know you from your Amsterdam Foodie Blog; how did that come about?
I have always been into food; my dad was an hotelier and restaurateur. I spent quite a bit of time in and out of his restaurants while I was growing up, and we also did “market research”, which was a euphemism for going out and having nice dinners. I’ve always loved cooking; I cooked at home in my parents’ house from a very young age. I then cooked a bit professionally as a student, having catering jobs on the side of my studies. So I was always into food, but loved writing as well. It was a bit of toss up whether I would be a chef or a writer. In the end, writing about food seemed to be the logical conclusion.
The book was inspired by my experiences of working in an office. I used to work just off Leidseplein – you’d think there would be dozens of lunch options around there, but in reality there were mostly only sit-down cafes. As you know with Dutch customer service being what it is, you wouldn’t get out of there within an hour – lunch becomes a whole event rather than just a 20-minute break from your desk. There were not the same range of sandwich shops, salad bars and jacket potato stalls that you would find in London.
We had a small kitchen at work, which was relatively well kitted-out for an office. I was taking ingredients into work and just making lunch there. My colleagues were very curious and I started making lunches for them, including monthly team lunches.
On the suggestion of one my colleagues I decided to write all these things down – to encourage people to eat something different and healthy at lunchtime. Healthiness was not the primary objective, but in general I think cooking from scratch is healthier than buying processed food. But my primary goal was to get people out of the rut of Ham-Kaas Broodjes for lunch. There is nothing wrong with them, but it’s worth mixing things up a bit now and again.
Vicky Hampton’s Working Lunch is available at bol.com
So the logical question after that is what is your opinion of the EU referendum result?
To be perfectly honest, I am quite gutted about it. From a purely personal point of view, I identify myself as European. I used to live in France and Italy for brief periods before I moved to the Netherlands. My brother lives in Belgium with his wife and three kids. My whole family has always had a very international outlook.
From a broader perspective, the huge impact that it will have on people’s jobs is quite heart-breaking. Hopefully, it will get better with time. The media at the moment is very doom and gloom. There is nothing else to talk about – I think I’m addicted to reading news about it. I’m so angry about the whole thing.
Are there any particular favourite restaurants at the moment?
On my website I have a revolving restaurant of the month: each month I choose a place I liked that I have been to quite recently.
Surely that can only be Moon?
Ha, ha. I have recently reviewed Moon on my website. It’s not cheap, but the view is amazing.
Pendergast is one restaurant I am excited about at the moment – it’s just south of Westerpark. It is a Kansas City-style BBQ restaurant that has some of the best BBQ-ed meat I have tasted outside the US. It is an independent restaurant set up by a guy from that neck of the woods in the US. They are smoking brisket, ribs, pork cheeks and all that good stuff. I’m quite into BBQ at the moment – I’d also give a mention to the guys at Bulelani pop-up who are currently in search of a permanent location. They do amazing ribs.
Are there any food trends which are appearing?
So you have on the one hand the meat eaters (as evidenced by the BBQ scene) but you also see a resurgence in vegetables taking centre stage. In that vein, I like Choux a lot. They are cooking up some excellent modern Dutch cuisine using local vegetables.
Dutch food has not enjoyed a great reputation in the past. However, there are some really creative chefs doing some great things with what is available locally at the moment.
Do you have any tips for people to find a good restaurant in Amsterdam?
Yes, of course! Simply go to my website and use the restaurant finder. You can search for restaurant recommendations by price, location and type of cuisine. You can also book a lot of restaurants directly from my site (look for the “book now” buttons!).
What do you most miss from the UK?
Not a lot, and even the less since the Brexit result. After 10 years, I am totally past the point of missing food items; I never think about Marmite or marmalade or Yorkshire tea. I’m not very English in that respect. I guess that one thing I sort of miss is the humorous banter. You know if you pop into a pub or bar or café in London, you can often strike up that instant rapport with the person behind the bar. I’m not sure if it’s my Dutch skills or just cultural differences, but I find it hard to have that same banter over here. But honestly, I miss very little. The Netherlands is my home now, and I may soon be trading in my British nationality for a Dutch passport!