POR­TRAIT OF A CHEF

Mint ST - - FIRST -

Chef Michaël Vri­j­moed, 38, can be de­scribed as a man be­long­ing to a new gen­er­a­tion of rebel chefs. His two Miche­lin-starred restau­rant Vri­j­moed, sit­u­ated in the city of Ghent in Bel­gium, of­fers con­tem­po­rary cui­sine in his sig­na­ture style. Eight months af­ter its open­ing in 2013, the restau­rant ob­tained its first Miche­lin star and in 2017, it re­ceived the Gault-mil­lau award for the best vege­tar­ian menu in Bel­gium, Nether­lands and Lux­em­bourg.

Vri­j­moed is where the chef cre­ates dishes that evoke “taste mem­o­ries”, and are based on his own thoughts and ex­pe­ri­ences in ac­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion with his guests. Here, there are no distinctions be­tween the so-called noble and hum­ble ev­ery­day in­gre­di­ents. Vri­j­moed en­cour­ages his team to pre­pare de­li­cious food with prod­uct residues, so that as lit­tle as

MICHAËL VRI­J­MOED

VRI­J­MOED, GHENT, BEL­GIUM

pos­si­ble is wasted. It is Vri­j­moed’s fo­cus on nat­u­ral prod­ucts and their es­sen­tial flavours that has led to his rather rad­i­cal sig­na­ture dish, a spinach and white choco­late dessert.

How I ar­rived at my sig­na­ture dish

For me, the most im­por­tant value of a good dish is taste in com­bi­na­tion with a con­trast in tex­tures, tem­per­a­ture and a bal­ance of acid­ity and sweet­ness, bit­ter­ness and salt. A lot of peo­ple ask me be­fore they eat this dish as to why would you cre­ate a dessert with spinach? There’s only one an­swer, “why would you not do it?” The com­bi­na­tion of the foam of ap­ple, crème of white choco­late and frozen grated spinach with matcha tea turn it into some­thing that would cre­ate an ex­plo­sion in the mouth. The best meal you have ever eaten

I still re­mem­ber the first time that I ate in a Ja­panese restau­rant 20 years ago. The pu­rity, the umami and the com­plex­ity in its sim­plic­ity of that meal opened my eyes to not be­ing con­ser­va­tive in the kitchen.

The next big food trend is…

Bel­gian gas­tron­omy. An­other fu­ture food trend will be a kitchen of pure prod­ucts.

Your favourite in­gre­di­ent to work with Ap­ple, I love it’s taste and tex­ture.

Most ad­ven­tur­ous thing you’ve eaten When I was in the Philip­pines, I ate ba­lut ,an egg with a cooked em­bryo…it was “spe­cial”.

Most un­der­rated culi­nary des­ti­na­tion

Bel­gium

What’s your com­fort food

Sliced ripe toma­toes with olive oil, tar­ragonvine­gar, salt flakes and fresh tar­ragon.

What’s the most re­ward­ing part of be­ing a chef?

The hap­pi­ness of our cus­tomers at the end of their meal in my restau­rant.

Your dream din­ner guest

Pas­cal Bar­bot, the chef of restau­rant l’as­trance in Paris.

This is the first of pho­tog­ra­pher Ro­hit Chawla’s spe­cial se­ries on cel­e­brated chefs from around the world.

Cu­rated by Diya Kohli

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