Editor’s Note: We are sad to report that Wanaka Goods has now closed.
Wanaka Goods on Jacob Obrechtstraat is making its mark on the Amsterdam map. Vogue Nederland recently profiled the restaurant/shop/activity centre, highlighting its fresh, living, natural gourmet foods, juices, smoothies, and kombucha. But just who is the raw chef behind all that tasty food? We met up with Chef Colette Nickerson to find out about her inspiration, her travels, and what she likes to eat for dinner.
I am originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, and have been living internationally for over ten years. I have a life-long passion for healthy food, nutrition, and using creativity to design and bring to the people delicious recipes. After graduating from the Living Light Culinary Institute in California as a gourmet raw food chef and instructor, I have been building my business via workshops, catering, producing and distributing foods, and also with consulting.
What brought you to the Netherlands?
My last consulting position at a health and detox/wellness retreat in Phuket, Thailand, brought me to Holland to develop a franchise model for to-go, take-out and delivery of healthy whole living foods. Together with Wanaka we are now launching the idea. We are very excited and grateful for the chance to empower and inspire people with convenient and healthy lifestyle options here in Amsterdam and Holland.
What does your dinner look like?
I like to have delicious wraps made out of peppers, spinach, tomatoes and coconut, filled with nut pâtés and fresh living sprouts, fruit, and marinated veggies. Sometimes I use cashew mayonnaise, nut pesto or a no-bean courgette hummus, or maybe even a Mexican flavor with guacamole, salsa, raw refried beans, sour cream, and mole. Wraps are very creative and so diverse with options.
How have your travels impacted the food you make?
Food is such a big factor ingrained in many cultures around the world. For many people it isn’t only about eating and satiety. I have observed food as a way of trying to understand the inner workings of the way people operate and I feel it can be strongly connected to the general mentality and belief systems in other cultures in ways I find to be different, or even lacking, in North America.
“Food can be quite ceremonial and sacred in many of the places that I have travelled to…”
Food can be quite ceremonial and sacred in many of the places that I have travelled to and the people seem to have a greater and more expansive spiritual connection and pride attached to the spices, ingredients and even medicinal folklore associated with the taste, colours, appearances, and textures.
I have learned about the importance of unique flavour balance ideas and the brilliance that is attached to fresh, local, and seasonal produce and presentation. For example, I studied food carving in Thailand which if I have time and a special event I may include a watermelon flower or beautiful centrepiece. In my experience, a time to eat in some cultures always means family, community, and togetherness and it is a very beautiful thing. I think that by partaking in this practice, together with exposure to exotic flavours, has impacted my food experience exponentially. I want to create a delicious life-giving food experience for others and provide an opportunity to connect and reflect and to be grateful. Ideally, it is my greatest wish to also share the love and memories from these cultures that are inherently present each and every time I reproduce a recipe that was shared with me during a very powerful and life-changing travel experience.
What is your life in Amsterdam like?
My life in Amsterdam is all about finding roots. I am passionate about learning the [Dutch] language, making connections, and happily creating and integrating into the culture. I love Dutch culture… and windmills. I am home and I am happy.
What are your top tips for someone visiting Nova Scotia?
If you go to Nova Scotia (which was once listed in Time Life’s top places to visit), it is important to visit the small villages for the freshest mom and pop restaurants, ice cream, and roadside food shacks.
“The Acadian French villages around the province have a very special rappie pie that is worth a try.”
I am from the South Shore, which is famous worldwide for its seafood. There is also the Cabot Trail in the North and again some famous crab, oysters, and other seafoods. There are also seasonal apple and cherry festivals inland in the Anapolis Valley region. The Acadian French villages around the province have a very special rappie pie that is worth a try. And our main city, Halifax, has a renowned culinary, cocktail, night-life, and summer patio scene.
I have been away for many years and perhaps things have changed. I’m hoping for more vegetarian options when I visit my friends and family there in the near future. But I can certainly count on the friendliness and exceptional hospitality of my home province to always be the same.