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RAI Amsterdam is in the ketchup business

Initiative against food waste creates own food line

RAI Amsterdam is launching its own food product line this summer featuring ketchup, basil olive oil and red apple vinegar. The story of how the Amsterdam exhibition company, which caters for over 1.5 million visitors a year, decided to embark on this new venture is an interesting one...

It all started a few months ago when the Dutch V&D department store chain was declared bankrupt. Large quantities of fresh ingredients for the V&D’s catering arm La Place (a partner of the RAI) suddenly lost their purpose, including a large batch of tomatoes from the Stadskwekerij Osdorp city farm in Amsterdam. As part of its ‘Heartwarming Amsterdam’ catering concept, RAI Amsterdam has a partnership with organic (dairy) farmers from the region who produce fresh, animal-friendly and tasty products. “This spring we received a phone call from our local partner Stadskwekerij Osdorp asking whether we would be interested in helping prevent all these Rooie Sientomatoes going to waste,” says Executive Chef of RAI Amsterdam, Rientz Mulder. “We were pleased to explore the options and this brought us into contact with Walter Abma.”

Joining forces
Abma is a well-known figure in the Dutch culinary world and advisor to the Stadskwekerij Osdorp city farm, which employs young people in addiction care and unemployed youths. He welcomed the chance to join forces with the culinary experts at RAI Amsterdam. “They call themselves the Basement Chefs with good reason,” says Abma. “They have a no-nonsense attitude and give everything their own spin. The RAI’s chefs have used the batch of eco-label tomatoes in a unique way with a very tasty recipe.

“We ended up developing our own product line together with Abma that also includes basil olive oil and red apple vinegar,” continues Mulder. “All have been made with local ingredients and using recipes that reflect the RAI’s Dutch roots. They are products which will appeal to everyone – after all, who doesn’t like ketchup?”

Basement Chefs
Basement Chefs is the name given to the culinary team at RAI Amsterdam, originally conceived in order to make their colleagues enthusiastic about everything that happens in and around the kitchens at the RAI. As the name suggests, the chefs operate at the heart of an area of tunnels and cellars beneath the RAI complex. From gala dinners to conferences and exhibitions, the catering department offers a wealth of options, excellent logistic skills and the flexibility to make any event a culinary success. During major events there are a couple of hundred cooks busy in the kitchens.

No secret recipe
The Basement Chefs embraced the initiative to develop a food line using fresh products that would have otherwise gone to waste. The ketchup, basil olive oil and red apple vinegar feature contemporary packaging and the recipes are available to the public. The products can now be sampled in the catering facilities of RAI Amsterdam and purchased during event days in RAI’s Grand Café or online.

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