Table Talk with Chef Marco Prins

Current Gig
Executive Chef at Restaurant Ukiyo

About the Chef
At the age of fifteen, Chef Marco got his first job as a dishwasher at a bistro namedt Hoekie in his hometown in The Netherlands. Whenever the restaurant became very busy, he assisted the chefs in preparing side dishes and desserts. That’s when he fell in love with cooking and the feeling of being in the kitchen. Chef Marco attended culinary school at Albeda Rosestraat in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  After graduating, he worked as Sous Chef at Oud Sluis in The Netherlands, ‘t Zilte in Belgium, and Martin Berasategui  in San Sebastian, Spain. Chef Marco moved to the United States in 2014 and became Chef de Partie at Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, where he remained until May 2018. He opened Restaurant Ukiyo in June 2018 next to Jewel Bako in the space that was formerly Degustation. Ukiyo means “floating world” in Japanese. Chef Marco’s menu, which changes seasonally, is based in French cuisine with Japanese and global influences.

Restaurant Ukiyo: 239 East 5th Street (between Second and Third Avenue)

ERHV6300Chef Marco Prins at Restaurant Ukiyo

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in The Netherlands in a small town called Maasdijk.  My parents were flower farmers and we lived on a farm. We had a small garden with our own fruits and vegetables. I loved picking apples and berries. I will never forget the taste of strawberries in the summer and the beans, white asparagus, and tomatoes in the spring.

What did you enjoy eating most as a kid?
In the Netherlands, especially in the region of ‘t Westland where I am from,  we have amazing produce, fruits, vegetables, etc. I enjoyed springtime the most because of all the young vegetables, red fruit, and rhubarb. My mom is a great cook and makes delicious baked potatoes. Also, her cauliflower is incredible with the baked potato and a steak!  Every day she made soups using our tomatoes, squash, and peas. It is simple food, but with made with amazing products.

At the moment, what is your favorite ingredient and what do you like to make with it?
There are too many! :-)  I usually prefer fish over meat, and I’m a big fan of citrus fruits.  The zest of the lime or juice of lemon really adds balance to a dish. I also really like ingredients such as yuzu, sudachi, or mandarin in a vinaigrette or sauce. They are light and aid in the digestion of your food.

What kitchen items are important for a home cook to own?
A good sharp knife is important because it makes cutting things easy. It’s safer and better for the product.  I also recommend a good frying pan that can be used for meat, vegetables, and potatoes.

If your food were music, what music style(s) would it be?
It would be techno music because it’s global — and my food is global! :-)  I am inspired and influenced by ingredients from all over the world.

Where are your favorite places to travel for the cuisine?
I enjoy traveling to Japan, especially Tokyo. The produce is so good. Also, the time, effort and honor that the chefs put into their food is amazing – it is from another world.  I am very impressed by it!

If you had not gone the culinary route, what would you have done instead?
I have always wanted to join the army. But instead, I am in the kitchen, which operates like the army. It’s very strict!

Which chef do you admire most right now?
Cesar Ramirez (Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare) and Sergio Herman (Oud Sluis, The Jane, Pure C)

When you get a chance to dine out, where do you like to go?
I love to go to Restaurant Central in Peru. In NYC, there are many good restaurants, from amazing pizza at Marta to delicious Thai food at Fish Cheeks.  I really like The NoMad Restaurant in the NoMad Hotel – the service and food are great. The best meal that I have had in New York was at Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare.

If you had to give up one of the five food groups (Bread & Potatoes; Milk & Dairy; Meat & Fish; Fat & Sugar; Fruits & Vegetables) and could not eat anything from that group for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
I can’t give any of these up! :-)

Table Talk with Chef Marco Prins