Van Dam was born in Amsterdam in a Jewish family. His father had a business in diapers. At the age of sixteen, in the winter, he lost his farther in a car accident while saving his sister. A horrible accident that happened because a bicyclist ran in their way.
Van Dam studied at the University of Amsterdam, at first medicines latter on psychology. He didn't pursue graduation on either one of these studies. He had several jobs, most of them related to hospitality and food.
At a certain point in his career he owned his own bookshop the 'Amsterdamse Kookboekhandel' which he ran for seven years. After that he concentrated himself on writing about food which he does with great pleasure. His reviews about restaurants has been published in 'Elsevier', 'Het Parool' and 'De Morgen'.
In November 2005 he presented 'De Dikke van Dam', where in Holland 'De Dikke van Dalen' is the leading dictionary. His book is a huge book about food and dinning, 735 page thick.
Van Dam has personal interests in fraud prevention and the prevention of deception. Next to this he was very active against copyright violations. In 1990 he became very depressed and used Prozac for a while. At first he was optimistic about this medicine, latter on he disguised it and felt ashamed. Nowadays he doesn't use it anymore.