BRUGES: Without a shadow of doubt, LESS Eatery in Bruges was among Belgium’s most exciting restaurant openings last year.
The restaurant of Gert de Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens has been designed in a way that gives the restaurant a certain buzz that could fit well with a metropolitan city such as New York or Tokyo. They decided to open it in Gert’s hometown.
After clinching a star within less than a year under the helm of young Ruige Vermeire, Gert de Mangeleer is inviting chef friends from around the world to cook at the restaurant and allow his young team to learn new techniques.
The first such event called Chef’s Invitation took place last week in Bruges on Wednesday 29 and January 30.
The first two chefs to cook were Hiroyasu Kawate of Florilege (not his first time cooking in Belgium) and Susumu Shimizu of Anis, both restaurants in Tokyo.
Florilege has 2 Michelin stars and is no. 5 in Asia’s 50 Best
Gert was very satisfied after the first event. “We had lots of fun which is the most important thing,” he told Food and Wine Gazette at the end of the two day cooking experience. And Ruige Vermiere said that they had learnt a lot of new techniques which they are impatient to use at the restaurant.
Gert has cooked often at their restaurants in the Japanese capital and this time they gave the possibility to the Belgian public to savour their cooking.
Since closing their flagship restaurant Hertog Jan which held 3 Michelin stars, the Belgian chef together with Joachim Boudens are responsible for the business development of their restaurant group but he was obviously in his element enjoying the cooking and delivering one stunning dish after another.
LESS Eatery is a restaurant that has been created with the idea of sharing and that is how the dinner was conceived.
It started off with bites, a caviar explosion by LESS Eatery, a cherry wood smoked ratte potatoes with cheese (Anis) and a tea smoked sweet potato (Kawate).
The starters to share were served in three intervals. First came an excellent scallops dish with kombu, ponzu and lime vinaigrette (LESS) which was served together with squid, fresh cheese, turnip and caviar (Florilege). Kawate also served a squid beignet on the side.
The next set of starters were razor clams served with chicory and lemon grass (ANIS) and a slow cooked lacquered Hamachi collar (LESS) which was spectacular.
The last set of starters were dim sum with iberico pork and black truffle (LESS) and work on spinach (Florilege). Kawate served three textures of spinach from the spinach leave to spinach powder and a cream of spinach which resulted in an explosion of flavours, a case of a vegetable being greater than the sum of its parts.
Chef Susumu Shimizu worked with Marc Veyrat and Alain Passard, at the latter he was the first Japanese chef to head the meat section. For the dinner at LESS, Susumu took pork from the English breed Duke of Berkshire (though grown in Belgium) and slowly cooked it on the Robata grill. Cooked gently on fire since noon, the pork belly and pork fillet were perfectly tender and they were accompanied by fried rice, jews ears (mushrooms) and a thai vinaigrette prepared by the LESS team.
For dessert, the LESS team prepared mango mexican style which was served with a mint and coconut ice-cream and a classic from Hertog Jan with rice, litchis matcha and rose.
The two dinners bringing these chefs together were instantly sold out. The next event takes place on 6 and 7 May at Less Eatery, with chef Jordy Navarra of restaurant Toyo Eatery (n°43 in the Asian 50 Best) in Manila, Philippines.
A lot is happening in Belgium this year. Apart from these events at LESS Eatery and other four hands dinners around the country, there will be the World’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony in Antwerp in June this year.
Bites to start
Mini caviar explosion I LESS Eatery
Cherry wood smoked ratte potatoes I Anis
Tea smoked sweet potato I Florilège
Starters to share
Kombu I scallops I ponzu I finger lime vinaigrette I LESS Eatery
Squid I fresh cheese I turnip I caviar + squid beignet I Florilège
Razor clams I chircory I lemongrass I Anis
Laquered hamachi collar I LESS Eatery
Dim sum I iberico I black truffle I LESS Eatery
Spinach I Florilège
Main to share
Robata grilled Duke of Berkshire I Anis & Florilège
Thai vinaigrette I Jews ear I fried rice I Less Eatery
Mango the Mexican way I LESS Eatery
Rice I litchi I matcha I rose I LESS Eatery