Marente van der Valk is a UK/NL based culinary artist and chef. She graduated in 2012 from a MA Design and Environment at Goldsmiths University of London and has since then been focusing on projects and events with an emphasis on environmental awareness, community mindedness and the social importance of food as well as the ephemeral and poetic qualities of food and the act of cooking and eating together. Her work is often a multi-sensory experience where a love for bringing people together results in a wealth of flavours and colours and a feel-good atmosphere.
Marente’s professional career started in sustainable Product Design, but a love for food and cooking persuaded her to explore the culinary world. In the past decade Marente has worked between London, Scotland and The Netherlands during which she has found inspiring communities who aim to connect people through food and the most brilliant ingredients available. The food and food-experiences Marente creates reflect the eclectic diversity of the sheer range of people she has worked and collaborated with, from The Guardian’s FOOD team to migrant women from culinary social enterprise – Mazi Mas and from the Tabulatopia Collective to The Design Museum in Ghent (BE).
Currently, Marente coordinates the Food Lab at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht (NL). The Food Lab has been created to offer a multidisciplinary platform to chefs and artists with an interest in food. Its primary function is to enable these individuals to collaborate and explore new techniques, sciences, sensory and artistic interpretations and responses so that they may delve deeper into the topic of food as a global phenomenon. Food has a unique position as a point of intersection for culture, identity, politics, physical and mental health, terroir, community, individuality and poetry. It exists in spaces of contradiction and duality, at times intensely polarizing. It functions both as an artistic expression and as a bare necessity. Establishing a Food lab at Jan van Eyck Academie and advising the academy on a day-to-day basis has enabled Marente to collaborate with other artists and chefs on a more conceptual level. This artistic dialogue cultivates new approaches and brings forth originality to her cooking processes and work as culinary artist.
The elements at the very heart of Marente’s work are well sourced, good quality, seasonal and organic products from local growers and producers that are invested in making a difference. In line with this way of thinking comes an urge to explore new experimental approaches to traditional (outdoor) cooking methods, a love for foraging and maintaining her rare vegetable and medicinal herb gardens enhance and influence new and exciting recipes. By focusing on the wealth of the edible plant world and the use of the whole vegetable where possible, as well as considering meat and fish to be a treat, Marente strives to have a minimal impact on the environment herself and to inspire others.