Den Hoorn, the southern most village on Texel, the largest Wadden Island off the coast of the Netherlands, is one of those ‘blink and you miss it’ type of places. While its white tower church is a stop for almost every photographer visiting the island and its traditional buildings remind visitors of the days when sailors and whale hunters called the village home, its miniature size still makes it an unusual location to find a Michelin star restaurant.
Just down the road from the centrally located Spar grocery store is Bij Jef – a restaurant clad in chic white floors and walls, large windows that let the light flood in and stylish lighting. Relaxing jazz music competes with the fireplace and the open view of the kitchen.
This is the masterpiece of Chef Jef Schuur, who received a Michelin star for the first time in 2009. Jef’s childhood dream was to be the chef in his own restaurant and he ensured that dream happened, working his way up from dishwasher to chef. All while keeping the phrase “if you do something, do it well,” firmly in mind.
“It’s the most beautiful product in the world.”
On an island filled with fresh ingredients and local specialties, it is the lamb that is a favourite of Jef’s. “It is the most beautiful product in the world,” he explains. Texel lamb is a unique product. The sheep and lambs endure wind, rain and salt throughout the year and the salty sea air combined with the brackish soil gives the Texel lamb its special ‘pré-salé’ taste.
Apart from the lamb, I asked Jef why he had chosen the small island of Texel over somewhere bigger, like nearby Amsterdam for example. “Those places are too busy. Here I have the woods and the beach. I can be inspired and have a fresh mind.”
Inside the kitchen are youthful voices. A reflection of the fact that Jef regularly takes on younger staff to help train them and to keep dishes and ideas at Bij Jef new and different. “Pleasure in our work – that’s what we want to do – [so] that’s what we do.”
Where – Bij Jef, Herenstraat 34, 1797 AJ, Den Hoorn – Texel, The Netherlands
When – Wednesday to Sunday, 18:00 – late (Saturday from 19:00); closed Monday and Tuesday, lunch by reservation
Web – www.bijjef.nl