COLUMN HENK

Traditions

Sometimes, you encounter people, who keep to their traditions and habits at all times, and stick to it, no matter what. As such, we have some friends, who insist on drinking a gin and tonic, and a large beer before a flight, no matter what the time of departure is. Is it a tradition or a superstition? Another bunch of friends always go to the same beach in Zandvoort, when the weather is nice; they like the same beds and always order the same drinks. Another friend, who hates shopping, once a year goes to Amsterdam shopping with his little niece (who is in the meantime already 35 years old), always in the same month, and they take a photo standing somewhere on a bridge in the center. All amazingly sweet and nice, but as for myself, I am not a person of fixed habits, I like to do and discover something new, different things. It happens daily at my work too, but in my private life I also want to see new things all the time. There is more excitement to it, but new things are also less safe, and sometimes it can present some difficulties. We have a house on Ibiza, and we always like to search around there for a new beach or a new restaurant, and so far we’ve been quite successful at it every single time for 15 years already. In the cities that we visit to achieve inspiration, we always look for the latest concepts, new restaurants, etc. At my work, we push our partners to go make that one extra step, or to develop a new technique, so that we can keep making and enhancing our products.

For me, discovering new things must occur at times other than the Christmas Holidays, because Christmas for me is pure tradition. Every year, from mid-November on, my car is full of blasting sounds of Chris Rea’s Driving Home for Christmas and me singing it. Every year around Christmastime, the whole family comes together to watch movies, the tearjerkers Love Actually and The Holiday. We’ve already seen it 10 or 12 times, but that doesn’t take away from the fun, it’s actually adding to it, but don’t ask me why or how. On Christmas Eve, we always have a cold dish with shrimps, salmon and eel served in front of the fireplace, while unpacking the presents from under the Christmas tree, with our grandma there as well. For that matter, we also always add some fake presents there too, because it seems the higher the presents pile up, the more fun it is.

Somewhere end-of-summer, we start talking about the follo-wing Christmas dinner, and what we are going to have then, because really, the Christmas dinner constitutes the high point of the year for the Teunissen family. Subsequently, every year we come up with more or less the same main dishes, namely Chateaubriand and a piece of wild for me, because it just belongs like that to the Christmas tradition. Actually, the Chateaubriand preparation is a thing in itself, because we want it medium rare, and that’s a tricky thing to do. The meat should be roasted first, and then spend some time in the oven, using a thermometer to monitor the inside temperature. It’s all precision work, because if the meat stays a bit too long in the oven, it gets all cooked through and ruined, and that’s a pity. When the meat comes out of the oven, it has to rest, wrapped in foil, for a couple of minutes to get just right. I am not talking about myself here, my cooking skills include frying an egg, or putting pre-baked breads in the oven, and even that I manage to burn quite often, and frying small Parisienne potatoes.


For that legendary Christmas dinner, we push two long tables together into an L-shape in our kitchen, so there’s enough place for about thirty people there. My Saskia is the chef, but everyone prepares something to bring along, so that Saskia doesn’t end up completely exhausted at Christmas time. I can’t describe how much I love to set and decorate the Christmas table together with my youngest daughter Bess and my daughter-in-law Vicky. Our Puck makes sure everything goes smoothly. Don’t make too much mess, because Puck doesn’t like it when it’s a mess. I prefer an over-the-top table, therefore there is an abundance of gold and bling and lots of burning candles. Images of our Christmas dinner will be shared on Instagram (@HenkRM), so that whoever wants to can follow and enjoy our stylish get-together. Home is where you can be you. Our entire house is full of burning candles, because Christmas is all about creating a special atmosphere. Our charming tomcat George thinks the candles are amusing, but it always costs him a couple of whiskers.


Christmas has come to our house, and the tradition reigns. Every year, we decorate the trees. We always have two real Nordmann firs, one in the kitchen and one in the living room by the fireplace, arranged slightly different from the previous year. Recently, I’ve thought up to decorate one of the Christmas trees with decorations made of rattan. I like it so much. Nature is a hot trend nowadays, but we’ve been selling rattan products already for about 25 years ... there was even a time, when we were the only company offering it. In the nineties, all large suppliers awoke to the opportunity to buy much cheaper willow tissue from China for processing. Willow is really a reed plant growing along water channels, with the color of its tissue resembling rattan cane. It is really much lighter, and some time after drying it tends to break by itself. Rattan is a kind of a creeper climbing up from the base of tree trunks, it grows only in Indonesia. A great video about rattan can be found on our website and on YouTube: ‘Unique & Handmade’, as we call it.


This time, for this Christmas, we made some amazing and original designs for rattan Christmas decorations. Among other designs, we also made a mini-plane, a car carrying a Christmas tree, and a rocking horse, all woven from rattan tissue. It took us almost a full year to develop the designs, this is 100% artisan work, no machinery is used, and not every weaver can do this. Primarily women are engaged in this kind of work. Two or three times a year we fly out to Java, Indonesia, to work together with weavers in the village Majalengka, just outside of Cirebon. Everything starts with an idea, then a sketch, and following that - a plan. Afterwards, we start looking for the right people who can do the job, and then the circus starts. The production process sees quite a lot of blunders, and then everything has to be started anew, there is no machine to fix it. That’s why you got to have patience, and be able to keep your breath, hurrying doesn’t get you anywhere. Once it is finished: wow, such a beauty!


This year, therefore, the large tree in the living room is decorated extensively with rattan Christmas ornaments, the only thing left to do is to convince Saskia to keep the silver ball decorations in the basement ...


Merry Christmas,

Henk Teunissen

CEO/Founder Rivièra Maison