This affinity with cooking was developed at a young age. “As a teenager I wanted to be a chef working in long-haul shipping. Wouldn't it be great, I thought, to prepare food for so many people while getting to see so much of the world.” He even went along to an open day at the Hospitality Business School in The Hague, but he was put off by the fact that from day one you had to live in, and eventually he choose to study linguistics in Tilburg.
His wife is also a good cook, and their daughters Roos (18) and Maria (16) have been known to roll up their sleeves and pitch in - but usually it's Jim who does the cooking in the Bergmans household. A meal might involve hours of preparation, as it does when he makes his own pasta, but sometimes it's just a matter of quickly throwing a meal together. Either way, when the family sits down to dinner they always take their time. “We can easily sit at the dining table for an hour in the evening, discussing at length how the day went. It's time we really enjoy.”
The catch of the day at the coast in a country like Italy. I admit I do sometimes miss that in the Netherlands
While he will drink a glass of wine with dinner now and again, as a rule beer is his drink of choice. In his leisure time he can often be found working behind the bar at De Roos brewery in Hilvarenbeek.
This policy officer is happy to draw inspiration from Jamie Oliver's culinary artistry. “I'm a big fan. What especially appeals to me is the idea that it needn't be all that complicated. That's exactly how I prefer to prepare my own food.”
Bergmans says he will eat anything; there are plenty of foods that will delight him. But if he has to choose a favorite, it would have to be "delicious fresh fish. The catch of the day at the coast in a country like Italy. I admit I do sometimes miss that in the Netherlands".
Read more about Jim below the recipe.
Jim's zucchini soup - available all this week in the canteen in MetaForum, and elsewhere too on some days of the week.
For about six bowls of soup
Preparation time: 30 minutes
You will need
- 2 zucchini
- 2 onions
- half a pack of Boursin soft cheese
- 1 liter of vegetable stock
- salt and pepper
- optional: fried bacon bits of snippets of salmon
Cut both the zucchini into cubes and dice the onions. Heat up a little oil in a soup pan and add the onions, browning them over a low heat for five minutes. Add the zucchini cubes and cook for ten minutes over a medium heat until the zucchini are well done. Add the stock and allow to simmer for another fifteen minutes. Puree the mixture using a hand blender until the soup is smooth. Stir in two tablespoons of Boursin soft cheese and let it dissolve in the soup. Add salt and pepper and voilà! This soup is delicious with bread and butter.
For the non-vegetarians among us: crisply fried bacon bits or snippets of salmon make a tasty addition.
Finally, three provocative personal questions for Jim from Cursor's glass storage jar, while the chef dots the i's and crosses the culinary t's.
Which course would you like to teach and why?
“When I was about sixteen, I wanted to study astronomy. But when I heard that you hardly look at the stars at all in the first three years of the program, it lost its appeal. Whenever I'm in a city with an observatory, I like to pop in. I thought the discovery of various exoplanets was very interesting.
I have never taught but I enjoy working with students. That's another thing I find so enjoyable about working at TU/e. Your university years are such a decisive phase in your life.”
Who do you most admire?
(Thinks for a moment). “Yes, Stephen Hawking. He showed such perseverance and he achieved so much. He wasn't easily daunted. I'm also someone who perseveres, but I wonder if I could ever be as dogged as he was. Whenever something happens to me, I need time to switch gears. Being able to not lose heart is a gift I can appreciate.”
What's the greatest heroic deed you've ever performed?
I can't say I've ever performed a truly heroic deed, but if you were to ask me what I'm proud of, then I'd say my daughters and how we have raised them. They can stand on their own two feet, they make their own decisions and have their own personalities. We have always let them make their own choices. By which I mean about friends, their sporting interests and education. And with food too; they had to taste everything once but they were never made to eat anything they didn't want to. My own father used to be stricter with me, but I think I needed that; I needed his guidance. I was more rebellious in those days than my children are now.”
Every three weeks we interview a TU/e student or employee in the kitchen; about food, about their motivations and (pre-)occupations, and any other topic that comes up. The interviewee shares their favorite soup, and in the week that the interview appears, the soup is on sale on our campus in one or more of the canteens run by caterer VITAM. You will find all the interviews and recipes here.