Samuel DeMarco – better known as Chef SammyD – may have only touched down in Amsterdam in August 2016, but he’s already getting his feet firmly under the (dinner) table when it comes to the Netherlands’ culinary scene. Before he came to Europe, the 52-year old chef and restaurant developer had a global career, involving his own TV show, “Chow Masters,” restaurants in Las Vegas, and consulting gigs in Asia. But, he says, “it all started in Brooklyn, NYC,” where he grew up in an Italian family and was taught to cook by his great grandparents.
SammyD is now Executive Chef at Kimpton De Witt’s house restaurant, Wyers Bar & Restaurant. So we caught up with Chef to ask what motivated him to start cooking in the first place, how his philosophy shines through in the food at Wyers, and to get his tips about his favorite restaurants and bars in Amsterdam.
“American comfort food is essentially global – because America is a melting pot of different cultures. I want to pay homage to all those cultures’ cuisines, and present them in new ways.” Wyers promises to do just that. People can drop in for a beer and a snack, or spend the whole evening having cocktails and dinner with a group of friends.
Here’s Chef SammyD’s Amsterdam shortlist:
- For seafood, Brut de Mer in de Pijp – Chef can’t get enough of Brut de Mer’s honest, local, simple presentations of fantastic food.
- For steaks, Salmuera on the Rozengracht – SammyD waxes lyrical about their family-recipe empanadas, coal-fired cooking, and awesome selection of tequila and mezcal.
- For pizza, La Perla in the Jordaan – try the Calabrese Di Spilinga pizza with a glass of Barolo!
- For fine dining, La Rive at the Amstel Hotel and Bord’Eau near Rembrandtplein – SammyD says that Rogér Rassin (La Rive) and Richard van Oostenbrugge (Bord’Eau) are amazing chefs.
- For brunch, Dignita in Oud Zuid – Chef’s favorites are the Benny Boy (with perfectly poached eggs) and the hash-brown pie – all washed down with a killer Bloody Mary, of course.
- For beer, De Prael in the Red Light District and Houthavens – not only a quality brew, but also a social project that supports the local community.
- For beer and bar food, Gollem on the Overtoom – a great selection of local and international beers, as well as top-quality food from Chef Bas.
- For cocktails, Tales & Spirits – fun comfort food, damn good drinks, and SammyD loves their customer service too.
- For markets, the Noordermarkt (Saturdays), Westerstraat Markt (Monday mornings) and ZuiderMRKT (Saturdays) – while wandering through the produce stalls of the Noordermarkt, why not stop at Winkel43 for a slice of apple pie and a fresh mint tea?
SammyD is most excited about establishing a neighborhood eatery: “I’m thrilled with this opportunity to earn my culinary stripes in the Netherlands. Wyers isn’t just a hotel restaurant – I’m really excited about serving the locals too!”
– Vicky Hampton