SUITSUIT Inspired by | Food Stylist KirKookt

As a recipe developer and food stylist, Kirsten left her roots in the Brabant countryside for the bustling city of Amsterdam a decade ago. Despite attending art school, she quickly discovered that her true calling was in the kitchen. In this blog, we will explore Kirsten's adventures, from her culinary delights to her sources of inspiration. She also shares more about her talent for hosting fantastic dinner parties, featuring hand-painted menu cards and impeccable table styling. Kirsten knows how to transform every evening into an unforgettable celebration. 

A Hobby that Got Out of Hand 

What started as a hobby spiralled into a project filled with passion. Kirsten has been sharing her culinary adventures on social media for quite some time, emphasizing more than just the joy and relaxation in cooking: "I've always expressed how much I'd love to share recipes, tips, and styling ideas on social media to inspire others". Her love for cooking became a source of strength after a challenging burnout, eventually motivating her to take her dream seriously. As she puts it, "At some point, it felt like now or never to pursue my dream, and that's when I went all in", giving rise to her food styling and catering company, KirKookt. 

Feeling Passion for Art and Cooking 

"My passion for cooking began during the nursing classes at school", shares Kirsten. She not only learned how to cook there, but also how to set the table and do grocery shopping. At 13-14 years old, she started recreating school recipes at home because she found them so delicious. Kirsten's relationship at 15 brought frequent visits to her in-laws, where her mother-in-law collected recipes from various magazines. "This is how I actually taught myself to cook". 24Kitchen and Jaimie Oliver were sources of inspiration for Kirsten to refine her culinary skills. 

On the art academy, Kirsten found a platform to express her creativity: "I've always been involved with beautiful imagery, which you often see reflected in well-presented dishes". Art and cooking are inseparable for Kirsten, owing to "the power of imagery but also the story it tells". She even creates her own food illustrations for menu cards and exclusively cooks using local ingredients, gladly sharing the stories behind them: "Art is an experience, and sharing a meal is equally so". 

→ Discover all Kirsten's creations on her Instagram! 

Her Own E-Book 

Driven by her love for cooking and sharing inspiration, Kirsten decided to translate her passion into her own e-book. Drawing inspiration from various sources, including her own world map of recipes, cookbooks from others, travels, and dining at different restaurants, Kirsten shares, "Many chefs love to share their approach. I would never copy and paste a recipe; I always give it a completely unique twist". 

Her e-book, themed around Christmas, reflects her love for the festive season and offers dishes that leave an impression all year round. "For example, the Dutch ‘speculaas’ cake is a real hit from the e-book, and I show how to combine it with winter fruits like pear, apple, and blackberries. But in the summer, you can replace these with seasonal fruits like strawberries, watermelons, and raspberries". Kirsten's ultimate dream is to publish a hard copy cookbook, with an e-book in magazine form being a step in the right direction. 

→ Curious about Kirsten's e-book? View it here! 

Supporting Locals 

For Kirsten, cooking is not just a creative outlet but also a way to support the local community. On Saturday mornings, she loves to explore the market for fresh ingredients and spends a lot of time in shops on the Zeedijk in Amsterdam. By shopping at local businesses, she builds valuable connections and inspires others to do the same. Kirsten shares a delightful experience with the local fishmonger: "For the cover of my e-book, the fishmonger had pre-opened the oysters for me. I call them fifteen minutes beforehand and hear the fishmonger say, 'Are you coming?' I love that". 

Global Flavors 

For Kirsten, eating is a way to explore the world. She shares more about her travels: "I spent six weeks in Vietnam and the Philippines, where I fell in love with the fresh dishes with lots of lime juice and spice". Here, she discovered one of her current favourite dishes: "My favourite dish during this trip was Phó, a noodle soup with beef, which I always had in the mornings". Kirsten also shares her culinary bucket list: "I would like to experience the authentic Omakase experience in Japan, savour delicious fried chicken and sushi. I would also love to go to America to try out street food from various food trucks". There's also a trip she'd like to redo: "I went to South Africa with my parents, but they are not big wine enthusiasts. This is something I only discovered later. Now, I would like to explore the wine route in South Africa with my partner". 

Inspiration and Inner Strength 

For Kirsten, Karsu from the 'Turkish Kitchen' cooking programme is one of the women who inspires her the most. She says, "How she took action after the earthquakes in Turkey and donated most of the profits from her cookbook to this cause, I found so remarkably beautiful". Additionally, Karsu is a stage animal, and Kirsten loves entertaining just as much! Kirsten also sees her own mother as an inspiring figure, primarily due to the love shared in the family and the attention given to relatives. "Because she does so much for my grandparents, she inspires me", says Kirsten. 

She draws her inner strength from taking care of others, where creating meaningful moments, like organising dinner parties, takes centre stage. She recharges by meditating, getting a massage, lying in a bath, or taking a walk: "During my walk, I like to surround myself in nature, like in the park or a forest. This is where I draw a lot of energy". 

New Year's Resolutions 

Due to the harsh lesson Kirsten learned from her burnout, she sees it as a priority to take good care of herself: "I would like to give as a tip to others to listen to your body and follow what feels good for you". Additionally, in the new year, Kirsten would like to dance more, take even more ice baths, and start volunteering: "It would be a meaningful cause for me to cook for the elderly in a care home". Making New Year's resolutions is something Kirsten didn't overlook this past year: "At the end of each year, I write down my goals and dreams. Looking back on this, I've actually realised most dreams in 2023". This, of course, doesn't happen without regular reflection: "Every quarter, I check everything I've written down in my journal to see where I can focus more and where I'm already making good progress". However, Kirsten does want to pause and celebrate successes more often: "This is something I should do more for myself, to truly enjoy the moment". 

Sharing is Multiplying 

Kirsten's advice for others? In her own words: "Sharing is multiplying". She believes that shared experiences, both in love and at a career and success level, propel us all forward. Her own e-book is a great example, created with the help of other passionate women. A message Kirsten would like to share with other women is "Share the challenges you face, but also share your successes. I tend to move on from them too quickly, but sometimes it's good to take a moment to pause!".