A new tomorrow
Dear beloved guests from all around the world,
There we are. Closed for our guests, ever closer to our nature.
We stand, stare and contemplate our future. Strangely at ease. Although the streets and screens give us an uncanny outlook on the coming months, here, looking out on our empty terrace, it feels like stepping into an impressionist painting. Docked sailing boats shaking their masts with an echoing whistle. Sculptures in the garden settling in a deep meditative pose. With a good ear you might hear the young eels playing and jumping in their new lake habitat. Life reappears from unexpected places.
Yet behind this serenity lingers the most challenging puzzle of our time. Apart from health, climate, macro-economic and geopolitical impact and uncertainty, every business on the planet, however big or small, is suddenly leaped into a wicked version of reality. Physical and economical survival is squeezed together in a day-to day match. Every day new players, new playcourts and new rules, all coming straight from the rabbit hole.
For now, our focus at Smit-Bokkum is to stay calm and creative, to keep smiling, and to treat our healthy bodies and our environment with the utmost care and respect. We -and everybody- knows that we can only get through this storm together and in peace. Certain is that for all, new routes will be explored, and new clothes will be worn.
As for us, we will find our place in this new world of tomorrow. Stronger (and hopefully wiser ?). Smoking our fish, with dedication and love.
Meanwhile, before and after total lockdown, we still do shipping of our homesmoked fish, to enjoy safe at home with family and close friends. Order now and your fish will be shipped the same day, fresh smoked and vacuum sealed, full of healthy omega 3. Check our special fish shippingwebsite for the possibilities: www.smitbokkumvisgeschenken.nl
Within the local Edam-Volendam community, we do home meal delivery of our fish specialties. Check herefore our regular website: www.smitbokkum.nl.
Take good care everybody. Hope to see you all in happy smiling health this coming season!
All the best on behalf of the Smit-Bokkum family,
As old as new
Somewhere during the warm summer of 2019 the final call was made: another high season working from our outdated kitchen and bar would blow out the last bit of energy from our team. Too small, too inefficient, too much choked airflow; for the last years it was -especially for the chefs- sometimes a battle in a desert storm. Another round of small changes and adaptations this winter would be just sticking our last set of fingers in the dyke.
We needed a renovation. Big time.
And so we faced a big time challenge. How to preserve the quality, soul and atmosphere of a 164-year old family business while creating the optimal restaurant design and routing for the future? And how to tame all the family interests, opinions and emotions when you are materially changing the unchangeable?
So we hired a referred top level kitchen designer that would guide us through this odyssey. The first two meetings with the designer were also joined by a few family members, in my idle hope of creating a shared spirit for the project. Together the meetings lasted no longer than 20 minutes ?
Designer: ‘Perhaps here we can create…
Designer: ‘But then perhaps we can…’
Designer: ‘This is…impossible’
However, no less than heroic, the designer kept believing in my vision for the project. We kept in touch during the fall, strengthened our fellowship with an interior designer and constructor, and gradually the sketch turned into what would become our biggest project since we added the restaurant to our historic smokery in 2003.
I will spare you the emotional eruptions this seismic shift triggered within our more than strong-opinioned and outspoken family. Let me save that for later records ? What matters is that now, after a year-long preparation and a two-week (!) stealth execution, we jointly and proudly are able to present you our renovated kitchen, store and restaurant, with just the same timeless feel that we grew up with, one that kept and keeps us going for so many generations. And one that is now once again able to shine bright, fresh and strong into the future.
And fortunately, all of us are still on board of the ship ?
With a stronger than ever focus on preserving our quality and culture.
Come and taste!
Tales from the Eel lab
Six years ago two Volendam entrepreneurs decided to write eel history by opening an advanced eel research lab in Volendam: Glasaal Volendam. Their aim was to present to the world the unraveling of the most mysterious of all fish mysteries: the reproduction of European glass eel.
As many know, the European eel, ‘Anguila Anguila’ (would make for a nice band name), is a mysterious fish, which only spawns and hatches eggs in the vast waters of the Sargasso Sea. This sea is located near Bermuda (!). They only reaches European waters after an impressive 6000 km migration across the Atlantic ocean, after which they seek an European fresh water habitat to settle and relax for a few years. Once fully mature, they gather all their courage for an heroic remigration to the Sargasso sea, where each eel produces up to a million eggs. After this last major effort, it dies.
Up to today, no man, computer or alien has been able to copy this wonder of nature. Lab reproduction is simply impossible. Therefore, all eel farms worldwide working with Anguila Anguila rely on small wild baby eels that have just reached European shores.
This has led to a gold rush for these baby eels. Asian market prices for a kilo of imported European glass eel can rise up to € 3000,- (!). And because of these prices, the European wild eel population is hugely affected each year by mass -mostly illegal- glass eel fishing in southern Europe.
Enter Glasaal Volendam. They develop a technique that could make their lab the first in the world (commercially) reproducing European eels in waters outside the Sargasso sea. Hereby the eel farms would no longer rely on the wild eels, which could create a great boost for the wild European eel population.
A very challenging, innovative and brave project! As of this year, I have become board member of Glasaal Volendam, being responsible for HR. An exciting opportunity, as the research is currently fast developing and reaching a critical stage. Volendam could very well be on the verge of once again making its mark in Dutch eel history!
Although there might still be a lot more mystery to eel than meets the eye ?
Eels are back on track
3-3-19 This week a Dutch lottery and influential charity sponsor, De Postcodeloterij, awarded the (Dutch) Good Fish Foundation a staggering amount of € 2 mln to stimulate the recovery of the eel population in the Netherlands. A moment of celebration for all eel lovers!
And an important signal that the Netherlands is currently very positively in the lead in European eel sustainability projects. In the past years, the European SEG (Sustainable Eel Group) has developed and successfully introduced a sustainability program to save the European eel population (and therewith eel trade and consumption). Their program is for a large part co-developed and carried by their Dutch partner DUPAN. Together, they created a so-called ‘chain of custody’ for eels, for which the obtained a crucial EU sustainability label, called ESF (Eel Stewardship Fund, comparable to MSC). A major achievement, as the successful DUPAN sustainability model is currently copied in other EU Member States that have a strong eel culture.
Their projects have created a very positive energy and momentum in the world of eels, and a stable rise in the number of baby eels entering our waters.
This positive momentum is reflected in the donation from the lottery. As such a donation also implies a trust in the organizations involved in eel sustainability projects.
As a DUPAN member and ESF certificate holder, Smit-Bokkum is very happy with this development!!
In the coming weeks I will go more into detail (and less into abbreviations ?) on how we try to save the eel in the Netherlands.