Mark Vaessen – Executive Chef
“I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around the world. Of all the different countries I’ve visited, Japan made one of the biggest impressions on me. I love the street food, flavors, beautiful produce, and the variety of textures and smells. I strive to incorporate these types of influences in everything I create.”
Born and raised in the small village of Elsloo, a Dutch province of Limburg in southern Holland, SUSHISAMBA Executive Chef Mark Vaessen developed an interest in cooking and baking at an early age.
A combination of Southern Holland’s Burgundy lifestyle and his parents’ homemade stews-among many other dishes-found Mark regularly lending a hand in his home kitchen. Sundays were always about baking and cooking in his family. Fresh produce was plentiful in Elsloo, and as a teenager he picked cherries, strawberries and all sorts of local produce, rushing home to use them for both sweet and savory dishes.
After graduating from SVH leerlingstelsel in the Netherlands, Mark started his career in the kitchen at an age of 17, working as commis chef in several French fine dining restaurants in southern Holland and Belgium.
At only 18, Mark moved to Amsterdam to work at the landmark Pulitzer Hotel as an apprentice alongside a huge crop of acclaimed young chefs. “The buzz of working with so many talented people, all with different levels and skills, gave me energy, drive and inspiration to squeeze everything I could from it,” says Mark.
After his apprenticeship, Mark moved on to the position of Chef de Partie at the Michelin starred De Swaen in Oisterwijk, working alongside renowned Dutch chefs Edwin Kats and Cas Spijkers, the latter of whom constantly challenged him as both mentor and source of creative inspiration.
Mark’s culinary career continued with stints at the Hotel Corona, Villa RozenRust and Wox and Kok en de bruin. In 2002 he added author to his resume with a publication of Spanish cookbook, Más Tapas, which he wrote while working at Restaurant Y Mucho Mas in Hague.
In 2003 Mark left the Netherlands to travel the world, learning about cultures and food in Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, Laos, Japan, Malaysia, Cambodia, Sweden, Norway, Lithuania, Ecuador, Caribbean, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Galapagos, Greenland, Latvia, Germany and Russia. His travels found him cooking at the highly acclaimed Point Albert Park restaurant in Melbourne.
Upon returning to Amsterdam, Mark joined international restaurant group The Harbour Club as a Corporate Chef. During that time, Mark honed his sushi-making skills and knowledge, working alongside acclaimed Chef Oshima creating sushi and maki rolls with inventive sauces and creative techniques.
Now, as Executive Chef of SUSHISAMBA Amsterdam, Mark’s own culinary interpretations are blended into myriad SUSHISAMBA dishes like the Tiradito of Herring, Short Rib Korokke, and the Pollo a la Brasa with huancaina. “I’m so excited to be a part of introducing Nikkei cuisine to the Dutch market,” he says of Nikkei, the art of cooking with Japanese techniques and Peruvian ingredients. ”The creative culinary opportunities are endless.”