Chef Jonathan Zandbergen: one of the greatest Dutch culinary talents

  • Dutch 1 star chef
  • Gault&Millau most talented chef award 2017
  • The Best Chef Awards 2019 top300 (nr.175)
  • Jury MasterChef & DJ for parties

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Jonathan Zandbergen is one of the greatest Dutch culinary talents and is a chef at Michelin-star restaurant Merlet in Schoorl. He has won several awards such as the ‘Prix Culinary Le Taittinger’ in 2014 and has been voted by Gault & Millau as the Talentful Chef of 2017. The Dutch public got acquainted with Jonathan Zandbergen by several media appearances, most recently as a jury member in the RTL program Topchef Academy.

About chef Jonathan Zandbergen

When I was fourteen, I got a job through my stepfather behind the bar in a busy restaurant at the Oudegracht in Utrecht. After that I had a few other jobs and ended up in the kitchen.

Fourteen years ago, I started working at Het Polman’s Huis, a well-regarded brasserie in Utrecht, where classic cooking was done. When I heard that my girlfriend was pregnant, I had to make a choice. At that time, I also made music and sometimes also organized parties, but I did not see a secure future at that time; I wanted to have a future.

Cooking and inspiration of Jonathan Zandbergen

I then chose to go to the chefsacademy in Nieuwegein: the Gildevaart. With that choice, a goal was immediately determined: one day to belong to the top of chefs. I was fascinated by the book by Escoffier, the book about Restaurant Parkheuvel by Cees Helder from 2003 and the television series by Alain Ducasse (Working at the top chef) from 2005, in which his three star restaurant Plaza Athénée was central. I also bought his French edition of the Grand Livre de Cuisine, which I still look at; it is a Bible for me. These are the chefs who inspired me the most. The beautiful, ‘rich’ kitchens in which real food is prepared, food with taste: the classic French cuisine. I went into a process where I followed one after another study for six years. From basic cook to specialized cook – to finally successfully follow the Cees Helder Academy as a gourmet entrepreneur (management). In that period, I followed several short internships – ‘weeks’ – at star restaurants, including De Librije***. Literally a look in the kitchen to watch the art. So, I never worked for a big chef myself. I soon became a sous chef and then a chef in Het Polmans Huis, where I have been able to develop in various disciplines. The Polmans House had a restaurant, two banqueting halls, a café, the Ottone church (external location for banqueting) and De Zuylenspiegel (external location) with a total turnover of 2,000,000 euro. A very challenging environment, where I have worked with pleasure for a long time. Between 2011 and 2015, I worked as an Executive chef at restaurant Het Veerhuys in Almere. A company that has been undergoing a positive development since my start. In 2014, Jonathan Zandbergen got a listing on spot 80 in the restaurant guide Lekker500 and several times I was mentioned in this magazine and in other publications as talent or promise.

Merlet for Jonathan Zandbergen

In July 2015, Jonathan Zandbergen started as an executive chef at Restaurant Hotel Merlet* in Schoorl. A company that has been competing for years in the culinary top and where I have managed to continue one Michelin star successfully. It really is like a train at Merlet, although it requires 200% focus and a lot of effort. To stay on top, you must keep developing and constantly improving. The pressure is high and I work 90 hours a week to manage everything. In the meantime, I have managed to build a new team of 15 chefs, spread over two restaurants (Merlet *, and Grand Café Bourgonje). Working for top quality together! Something you can always count on.

Michelin and Gault & Millau

Since July 2015 I am responsible for the product in Restaurant Merlet. To date I have managed to maintain the level of 1 Michelin star. On 7 November 2016, I was voted the most talented chef 2017 by the Gault & Millau restaurant guide. The kitchen has been rated with 17.5 / 20 points. In restaurant guide Lekker500 we will rise to spot 44 in the top100 this year. Website In 2014, I made a website in which I share culinary inspiration. That is also the concept! I believe in sharing. That is, as far as I am concerned, the new business. By working together, you become stronger and better. In addition, I want to enthuse people for real food made from real products. Products with a story. All this I share through videos, photos.

Main awards and competitions:

-De Golden chefshat national final 2019, Amsterdam (1e place)
-The Best Chef Awards 2019 top300 (nr.175)
-Gault&Millau 2019 guide 17,5/20 points
-LXRYList Most Promising chefs of the world 2018 (29/50)
-The Best Chef Awards 2018 top300 (nr.282)
-Lekker500 restaurantguide, (45/500 Best Dutch restaurants)
-Gault&Millau most talented chef award 2017 (16,5/20 points sinds 2017)
-One Michelinstar since 2015
-Prix culinaire Taittinger Finale International 2014, Paris (Winner, 1e place)

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