Life after graduation

Foto van Mari Pitkänen en Jesse Boeve
Image: Robin Alysha Clemens

I want to see the impact of my work

When Jesse Boeve first started university, he dreamed of becoming CEO of a major company. Seven years, two Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree down the road, he started his first job as a policy officer at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and realised the work was too abstract for him. He now dreams of starting a vegan butcher shop. That ambition has led him to pursue an apprenticeship at Mari Pitkänen’s Kasvio* restaurant, which serves 100 per cent plant-based meals.

You just graduated as an economist, so why did you choose to work in a restaurant?
I was working at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, monitoring spending under the Sickness Benefits Act, but I never actually spoke to anyone on sickness benefits. I felt removed from the real world. I realised it’s important to me to see how my work affects people. I spent a lot of time reflecting while I was figuring out my next step. I realised I was driven by the idea of sustainability and decided to start a vegan butcher shop. I wanted to learn more about vegan food and cooking first, though. I found out about Kasvio restaurant through Google, and now I work on Mari’s team. She also studied at Utrecht University.

So which aspects of sustainability are you most interested in?
For me, it started with an awareness of climate change and food’s role in that process. I’ve been eating less meat for about five years now, and my diet’s been almost entirely plant-based since last summer. Changing our diet immediately leads to lower CO2 emissions. If everyone were vegan, we’d only need a quarter of the surface area we currently use to grow food. That would free up a lot of land, which we could use for things like renewable energy, and solve lots of existential problems overnight. The way we treat animals is also a big factor.

People with a plant-based diet don’t need to miss out on anything

What do you enjoy most about your work?
My job is all about making sure people have a special evening. Still, the concept behind it goes a bit deeper than great food. If we can surprise guests with delicious plantbased dishes, they’ll remember that when they go home. I think that can have a real impact. Ideally, we’d love it if lots of people started eating a plant-based diet because they realise it tastes good.

What's next ...

I want to find new ways of making plantbased food appealing to a wider audience. I want to discover amazing new things and work with great people like the ones in my team. And who knows, maybe I’ll open my own vegan butcher shop soon.

Foto van Jesse Boeve

Jesse Boeve (28) obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Law and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business Economics at Utrecht University. He also completed his Research Master’s in Multidisciplinary Economics at Utrecht University in 2020. He spent a year working as a policy officer at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and has headed the waitstaff at Kasvio restaurant since 2021.

Foto van Mari Pitkänen

Mari Pitkänen (38) studied Philosophy at Finland’s University of Turku, where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in 2009. She completed her Master’s in Gender Studies at Utrecht University in 2012. Mari spent years working as a chef in various restaurants across the Netherlands and ran her own catering company for six years. She developed the concept for Kasvio, her own, fully plant-based fine dining restaurant in 2020.

* Kasvio is located in the Metaalkathedraal on Rijksstraatweg.

A longer version of this article has been published on DUB, Utrecht University’s independent news site, featuring an interview with Mari Pitkänen. Visit their website for all the latest news and background information on our academic community.