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THE FLEMISH REVOLUTION-BELGIUM CHEFS: MICHAËL VRIJMOED

I am interested for four years by the emergence of some Flemish chefs. Initially I saw it as some “Électrons libres” in the Kingdom of Belgium, but after my first (2-3) interviews with Filip Claeys, Kobe Desramaults, Gert De Mangeleer, I understood that it was much more … Beyond the media trend to always seek “the Next Big Thing”, there are actually in Flanders a lot of creativity, an uniqueness and a willingness by the chefs to highlight an often overlooked “terroir”.

Many of these chefs have done an internship at Oud Sluis restaurant (chef Sergio Herman) but the chef Michael Vrijmoed comes rather from the other school, that of great chef Peter Goossens (Hof Van Cleve). It is after eight years as Sous chef at Hof Van Cleve that this young chef (33 years old) decided to open his own restaurant, Vrijmoed in Ghent. Besides his talent and his creativity, it is this longevity that struck me, it is rare to see in 2013 a young chef stay as long in a restaurant!

Vrijmoed loves its “terroir” and it is perceived in its plates. The dishes are originals, technical, complex and simple in same time. This simplicity in appearance rather reflects a harmonic complexity that finds its influences everywhere. There are a few things of Pascal Barbot in his “cuisine”, just a feeling!

There is another school in Flanders equally talented and dedicated to the unique “terroir”! Try Vrijmoed and Ghent before this city became a must in June 2013!

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Q+A WITH MICHAËL VRIJMOED (www.vrijmoed.be):

1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics?

MVrijmoed– A pure “cuisine” where we follow the seasons. We start with the search of a good (honest) product and we create a dish without overloading it with to many ingredients.

2-(Scoffier) You worked almost 8 years as sous chef for one of the most important restaurants in Belgium, Hof van Cleve. What have you learned with the chef Peter Goossens?

MVrijmoed– That was as 8 years of exploring and learning about the products, techniques. I learned to know Peter Goossens himself and myself…

3-(Scoffier) Why did you decide to open your own restaurant now (2013)?

MVrijmoed– It was a dream for a long time to open one day my own restaurant and to do “my things” but I waited for the good moment, when I would be ready in all aspects.

4-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

MVrijmoed– The smell or taste of a fresh baked bread is something that I adore, we make our own bread in the restaurant and will keep doing that for the future for that reason.

5-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?

MVrijmoed– I like acidity or the use of citrus in my dishes.

6-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires in your career?

MVrijmoed– For sure Peter Goossens was one of these persons. But also Guy Van Cauteren who closed his restaurant this year (after almost 40 years) where I really learned “what’s cooking”.

There are other chefs that touched me with their “cuisine” including Michel Bras, Pascal Barbot and of course many others!

7-(Scoffier) How do you develop (process) your recipes? What are your source(s) of inspiration?

MVrijmoed– I start with the “main ingredient” of a dish and I think to how I would love to eat it. Next step is thinking what are the seasonal products who would improve the dish.

8-(Scoffier) I had the chance to interview some talented young Flemish chefs, the restaurant scene looks very original and singular in Flanders (I think at Bruges, Ghent…). How do you explain that?

MVrijmoed– I think it’s true that we have some really talented young chefs in Belgium, who (may be the most important) do their own “cuisine” and give a 100% in their work all the time.

9-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or one that you like now) that is characterized the cuisine of Michaël Vrijmoed?

MVrijmoedRecipe: Confits of pork cheeks, goose liver, roasted spring onions and “saltcrustbaked” cevenne onions.

10-(Scoffier) What are your goals (ambitions) as chef and for Restaurant Vrijmoed?

MVrijmoed– Keep on going as we do now, two (2) months after the opening: make the people happy with “la cuisine” we do!

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RECIPE: Confits of Pork Cheeks, Goose Liver, Roasted Spring Onions & “Saltcrustbaked” Cevenne Onions.

No Instruction. A little secret even as the restaurant has just opened!

FURTHER INFORMATION

RESTAURANT VRIJMOED/Chef Michaël Vrijmoed
Vlaanderenstraat 22
9000 Ghent
Belgium
info@vrijmoed.be
www.vrijmoed.be

PRESS

1. Alle Dagen Honger site (Review in Flemish), May 5, 2013

2. Le Figaro “Gand Gourmand”, March 16, 2013

3. Flanders Today (Review), March 20, 2013

© Credits for photos at Restaurant Vrijmoed.

Tous Droits Réservés. Copyright Scoffier © 2008-2013

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THE FLEMISH REVOLUTION-BELGIUM CHEFS: DAVY SCHELLEMANS

The Électrons Libres, is a group of chefs that are as individual or a leaders of a group have taken a unique route that goes beyond the learning process. Their philosophy transforms the cuisine of the present time as well as the cuisine of the future in a specific area (place) or country. Sometimes they are the leaders of a culinary movement but often, they are alone in their search.

Davy Schellemans is another hyper talented young chefs native of Flanders. Just in his early thirties, he opened his own restaurant last year (26 seats) in Antwerp after have been (among others) the Sous chef of Kobe Desramaults (In de Wulf), one of the leaders of this movement flemish (Flemish Foodies). Indeed, it is created in this corner of Belgium, a cuisine intense, personalized and highly creative.

Schellemans have a unique menu of five courses (just 45 euros) which change weekly or biweekly depending on the product and seasons. This “menu” will allow him to focus on the finish and the essence of the products and the flavors. The first time we see “sa cuisine”, we understand immediately that this chef has a unique vision and creativity in the kitchen without blinkers and without limit.

A singular chef with an environmental conscience to follow in the coming years!

Q+A WITH DAVY SCHELLEMANS:

1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your “cuisine” at Veranda?

DSchellemans– I don’t have a philosophy, just want to serve good food and let people have a nice evening. For me “good food” is not too complicated, neither technical but made with love.

2-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

DSchellemans– A flavour not really, more a smell.The smell of fresh tomatoes is something I will never forget.

3-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?

DSchellemans– For me, acidity and texture are really important. These are two (2) things you will find always in my dishes.

4-(Scoffier) You worked as Sous chef of chef Kobe Desramaults, what you learned at the restaurant In de Wulf? Is there any other people who inspired you in the kitchen?

DSchellemans– Kobe gave me the drive and many other chefs are inspiring me but at the end, it is really important to do your own things.

5-(Scoffier) Seen from outside, there is real effervescence in Flanders and several creative young chefs. Do you perceive this movement and the energy?

DSchellemans– Many young chefs are opening restaurants with a very personal approach where food is always the most important, something that I really like! Every person is unique and that should reflect in the dishes and the atmosphere.

6-(Scoffier) How do you develop (process) your recipes for your menu? What are your source(s) of inspiration?

DSchellemans– My most important sources are my suppliers. They reach me the products and I have to bring them together. I don’t think too long about new dishes, I just start cooking, taste, and then fine tune…

7-(Scoffier) In the book of Kobe (Desramaults), he talks a lot of regional producers, is it easy for you to find “all” locally?

DSchellemans– Herbs, vegetables and fish from the north sea is quite easy to find but my meat still comes from France. The hype right now is “local”, before it was “molecular” and therefore “fusion”. My point is that every chef has to do what he has to do.

8-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Veranda (& Davy Schellemans)?

DSchellemansRecipe: Chinese Broccoli with pickled Onions, cream of Lemon, Chioggia Beets and fresh Herbs.

9-(Scoffier) What are your goals (ambitions) as chef and for your restaurant?

DSchellemans– My goal is to give people a nice evening every single day and to develop my style of cooking but most of all to enjoy what I am doing!

RECIPE: Chinese Broccoli with pickled Onions, cream of Lemon, Chioggia Beets and fresh Herbs

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INSTRUCTIONS & PROGRESSION RECIPE

Ingredients (4 pers)

-12 chinese broccoli
-30 cl soy sauce
-10 cl Yuzu juice
-4 lemon peel
-10 cl lemon juice
-10 cl sugar water
-1 beetroot sliced
-Olive oil
-Red wine vinegar
-4 young onions
-40 g alcohol vinegar
-200 g sugar water

To finish (to taste)*:

-Spinach – Amaranth – Citrus tagetes (branch + leaf) – Nasturtium – Roasted sunflower seeds.

Preparation

1. Cook the broccoli and let cool immediately in ice water. Warm before serving in soy sauce with yuzu juice.

2. Cook the sauce for the lemon peel 3 times after each other, change the water every time. Mix with lemon juice and sugar water.

3. Marinate the beetroot in a mixture of olive oil and red wine vinegar.

4. Cook the onions in a mixture of sugar water and alcohol vinegar.

5. Divide the broccoli and beet slices on a plate and garnish with the sauce and spinach, amaranth, citrus tagetes, nasturtium and sunflower seeds.

FURTHER INFORMATION

VERANDA/Chef-owner Davy Schellemans
Guidenvliesstraat 60
2600 Anvers (Belgium)
Phone: +32 (0) 3 218 55 95

PRESS

1. Video about Davy Schellemans by FrenchfoodTV, March 2011
2. Review by Gilles Pudlowski, December 2011
3. Interview, A Point Magazine #16, Printemps 2012
4. To taste the cuisine of Davy Schellemans in North America, it will be the guest of chef Dominique Crenn, November 9th (Omnivore Food Festival San Francisco).

NOTE: Credit for the photos: Charlie De Keersmaecker (Portrait), Roos Mest Dagh (Food)

Tous Droits Réservés. Copyright Scoffier © 2008-2012

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