Chef Aron Epp: Transforming Traditional Dutch Dishes at Amsterdam Tea Room

Despite the unpredictability that 2020 brought, chef Aron Epp discovered a silver lining when he was given an opportunity to lead the kitchen at Amsterdam Tea Room. He signed on without hesitation, and has since created an exquisitely contemporary menu that is rife with Dutch influences.

As Aron Epp, chef of Amsterdam Tea Room, talks to us about his craft over a Zoom interview, we can’t help but notice a bookcase behind him that is packed with old cookbooks and personal notebooks from past lives. “This is just a small sampling of the collection that inspires my creative process.”

Aron is a self-taught chef who has mastered cooking through years of practical experience, including working under classically trained chefs and spending several years experimenting with new flavours across the sea. “My parents worked for an overseas aid organization when I was in middle school and I spent years traveling throughout the Middle East.” A young Aron was quickly introduced to a variety of flavourful dishes that he had never tried in Canada. “Since then, I’ve always been open to eating and trying anything new.”

Prior to COVID, Aron was working independently as a chef for catering gigs and intimate pop-ups. But when heavy restrictions came into play, he knew that he would likely have to shift his focus. So when the owner of Amsterdam Tea Room called him with a job offer, Aron knew that he had found his answer.

“It was all about being in the right place at the right time.”

Aron has settled in comfortably at the small plate, Dutch-inspired restaurant that is Amsterdam Tea Room. Though he originally acquired an already impressive menu, Aron has worked hard to re-write the menu in order to make it his own. “I aim to take inspiration from Dutch home cooking and elevate those dishes in order to contemporize them and make them a little more fun.”

One of Aron’s savory creations will be given a much-deserved spotlight in the coming days as Amsterdam Tea Room is set to host a Cooking Club session on February 7th. Aron will be teaching attendees how to make his vegan hutspot dumplings which are inspired by a traditional Dutch side dish.

Complete with a decadent cashew cream, garlic chili oil, sauerkraut, kale and crispy onions, Aron is confident that the gnocchi-style dumplings are bound to change one’s perception of a vegan dish.

Despite the fact that he spends a large portion of his time making exquisite meals that are almost too beautiful to consume, Aron reminds us that he really is just like us when he isn’t working. “My favourite comfort meal is pizza – without a doubt.” Truly a man after our own hearts.

Tickets for the Amsterdam Tea Room edition of the Exchange District Cooking Club are only available for purchase until this Saturday, February 7th. Click here to get them while you still can!