The Hague Online’s new weekly food and drink contributor, Nick Mosley, ‘The Hungry Englishman’ gives the lowdown on how he came to call The Hague home.
My journey in becoming a resident of The Hague has been a very winding road but I guess many of our expat stories are full of unexpected and unplanned twists and turns.
Professionally my background is most tidily summarised as ‘gastronomic tourism marketing and events’ – quite a mouthful, I know – and its through working in this rather specialised sector that I’ve found myself, somewhat out-of-the-blue, now happily living alongside a canal south of the city centre in a friendly and welcoming community of Dutch locals.
So how did I end up here? The story begins about four years ago when I was planning an international chef exchange for the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival, the south of England’s biggest annual celebration of cuisine and a not for profit organisation that I’ve been managing director of for seven years. We’d already completed a number of successful exchanges in the Netherlands – partnering two chefs from different countries and letting them take over each other’s kitchens for one night only – so the introduction to a possible lead in The Hague from an English wine producer was something we jumped on.
A one day whistlestop tour of the city with the tourist board followed but none of the suggestions felt a good fit for our UK chef, Michael Bremner of 64 Degrees in Brighton. Thankfully, the recommendation from our colleague at Ridgeview Wine Estate in Sussex came up trumps and we met with Bas and Loes Oonk at Restaurant Basaal on Bierkade, who’d been stocking Ridgeview’s award-winning sparkling wines for a number of years. Suffice to say we all got on like a house on fire and chef Bas has now participated in a number of exchanges in the UK, Sweden, Channel Islands and Gibraltar. But I’ll tell you more about those another time.
Through Bas and Loes at Basaal, I gained a wide breadth of knowledge of not only the restaurant scene in the city but also a depth of understanding about produce and processes that are specific to Zuid Holland. Fortuitously I also bumped into a local councillor who was looking to find ways of supporting the hospitality sector, and he invited me to put in a funding application to the Gemeente to replicate the food festival model that we’d developed in the UK.
So in January this year, with the support of City Hall, I started planning from scratch The Hague Food Festival. Nine days of food events and collaborations across the city, culminating in a weekend of food stalls, children’s activities and chef demos in Huijgenspark. Across the festival we engaged with over 70 food and drink businesses ranging from social enterprises to Michelin-starred restaurants. We spoke to many more, and hope to engage and work with them over the coming years.
In a nutshell, that’s why I’m here and why I’m inviting you to explore the culinary scene of our adopted home with me.
Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be giving you a weekly insiders guide to food and drink in the city and surrounding region. Join me in meeting the most inventive chefs, knowledgeable sommeliers and vintners, creative mixologists, talented producers and passionate growers. I’ll also be giving my perspective on key issues around the food and hospitality industries right now –from the debacle of Brexit and its continent-wide impact on the food chain and hospitality and farm employment through to how the industry locally is tackling issues of food surplus and waste.
Rest assured, we have a delicious journey through Den Haag ahead of us.
You can read Nick’s food column every Thursday on The Hague Online, and follow Nick on Twitter @BrightonNick and Instagram @BrightonN1ck
All Photos © Julia Claxton