Werner Loens, director of the Michelin Belgium and Luxembourg guide had announced in an interview in the local Belgian press that this would not be a vintage year for the guide given a number of issues which he highlighted including the cost of personnel and also regulations.
In the end, there was one new 2 Michelin star restaurant when the guide was announced in Gent this afternoon.
The new two-star restaurant is the Cuchara restaurant in Lommel that is run by chef Jan T`ournier. “Jan Tournier is extremely good in his kitchen, focusing on the basics. His creativity and technical mastery translate today through impressive creations. By concentrating on a few ingredients, he manages to create real taste explosions,” he said.
Restaurant Hof van Cleve retains its three stars this year thanks to the talent and expertise of chef Peter Goossens. Today the chef, is the only chef to run a three Michelin star restaurant in Belgium.
Seven restaurants in the new Michelin guide were awarded one Michelin star with the French guide spotting young talent. At L.E.S.S. In. Bruges, the young chef Ruige Vermeire takes his guests on a taste adventure inspired by Asian creations. His mentors of course are Gert de Mangeleer and Joachim Boudins who decided to close their restaurant Hertog Jan to concentrate on new projects like L.E.S.S.
The other restaurants to clinch a star are OGST in Hasselt, Sir Kwinten in Lennik, Souvenir in Gent, Essenciel in Leuven, Canne en Ville in Brussels, Le Gastronome in Paliseul.
The Belgian young chef of the year 2020 went to the duo Jean Vrijdaghs & Sébastien Hankard of Le Gastronome who have been working together on this project for the past 10 months.
Two restaurants have lost their two Michelin Stars. These are La Villa in the Sky in Brussels which goes to one and Bartholomeus which lost its two stars.
On this 2020 edition, Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the MICHELIN Guides comments: “This selection reflects the richness of the culinary scene in Belgium and Luxembourg, which, in addition to the great diversity of the types of cuisine that compose it, is also marked by a whole generation of chefs who, thanks to their creativity and talent, reach a subtle balance where respect for products and greed go hand in hand.
The day before, Werner Loens, the director of the Michelin guide in Benelux told Nieuwsblad that Belgium has a problem. “Belgium is the crown jewel of gastronomy and a country we have always been proud of. But it is shrinking because of all kinds of rules and expensive staff. With the money you pay in Belgium to recruit 5 people you can pay seven people in the Netherlands and 10 in France,” he said.
“That’s if you find staff because young trainees are barely allowed to work at night or work on Sunday.”
He said that in this manner you cannot prepare the young for real life because the day they start working they of course will not crave to work long hours. “The result is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for chefs with ambition to have profitable restaurants and to find people. They are forced to work with smaller menus and to use less products, to do less seatings. While sometimes this is good, they need to grow to improve. The government has to intervene urgently because the peak of 15 new Michelin stars in Belgium is behind us,” he said.