Interview with the owner of Vorst

By Sara Schneemann

As the ice cream of Vorst is quite obviously beloved by every UCU student, I decided to visit the owner, Jan Rudolf Westerveld, for a quick interview.

What were your childhood dreams?

“I always wanted to sail across the world. Honestly, that is still a big dream of mine. I have a small sailing yacht in Lelystad and I love sailing.”

What did you do before running Vorst? How did you end up here?

“I studied to become an economics teacher. After that, I worked at Rabobank for 14 years until the bank started to cut back on staff in 2010. Then, my wife and I decided that we were ready for an adventure. We moved to Rouen, France, to open an ice cream parlour. We love ice cream and for this job we did not need to be native speakers. It did not work out as we initially hoped it would. French people do not eat much ice cream. After three years we moved back to the Netherlands, where I opened Vorst in 2014, near the wonderful Wilhelminapark.”

How do you spend your time when Vorst is closed in the winter?

“That is a great advantage of my job: I work for seven or eight months and then I can spend my time on whatever I like. I call it self-development! It includes reading books, snuggling with my cat, cooking for my wife and travelling. This suits me a lot more than my lifestyle in France, where we had to work longer hours to keep the business running. It is hard work here as well, especially during the summer season, but every year we’re gradually doing better. My favourite book is Beyond Sleep by W.F. Hermans, I cannot remember how often I have read it. Although, I would rather say that now that I am old and wise I do not have a favourite book anymore.”

What is your favourite ice cream flavour? Are there any flavours you dislike? How much ice cream do you eat?

“My favourite flavour is definitely vanilla. I always eat ice cream multidimensionally, 2 flavours at a time. Even though I eat it everyday, it never bores me! I do not care whether it is winter or summer, it is always good. I usually eat one or two scoops a day, mostly sorbet because chocolate and nuts flavours are fatter and heavier on the stomach. Though sometimes I eat more, it depends on the day. While suggestions for flavours are always welcome, I would never make licorice or white chocolate ice cream.”

How would you characterize Vorst in comparison to other ice cream parlours?

“I use a lot of real fruit  and less sugar for my sorbets, which makes them less sweet than others. When customers start getting used to mine, they start to think that other ice cream is too sweet. That is what they tell me. Some of my flavours are absolutely unique. Cookie butterscotch is definitely the most popular. What really distinguishes my ice cream is that it contains organic milk, which I get from a dairy farmer, and organic vanilla, which gets more expensive every year. To me, respect for the environment is important, but it is necessary to take economic considerations into account as well. So it is not a dogma, but rather what I strive for.”

You must encounter many UCU students. How do you experience that?

“UCU students are nice customers, I often chat with them. I have developed a kind of radar for UCU students. I can recognize them very easily!“

Do you have a life motto or a take-home message?

“Years ago, I decided to stop regretting things. All you can do is make choices based on the information you have at the time. If things turn out differently, it is not something that could have been predicted. Regret is a useless emotion. Therefore my motto would be: “Water under the bridge”. It works for me.”

 

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