GENT: That this would be an important year for Kobe Desramaults was a given. He turned 40 earlier this week and as he himself posted on social media, the fun begins now. But this year is also important because it will bring to an end a relatively new chapter, the closure of Chambre Séparée, the restaurant he opened in Gent just over three years ago. The restaurant will make way for a new construction development that has been in the pipeline for many years. He knew from the start that the lifespan of this highly acclaimed restaurant in the Belgian city of Gent would be short.
The time when the restaurant closes is fast approaching. But the talented Belgian chef is not new to closures and fresh starts. He made a name for himself in In de Wulf, a place in Dranouter on the border between Belgium and France in what was the middle of no where. His distinct style made him one of the most sought after Belgian and international chefs.
But come December, Kobe Desramaults does not know what his new project will look like. He doesn’t even know whether it will happen in Belgium or elsewhere. He had a few ideas including heading to Tuscany or the South of France but then COVID-19 happened and the scouting plans were postponed abruptly. At least for the time being. He even took to social media to ask for ideas.
When I visited Chambre Separee just before the summer break, Kobe Desramaults was in his element. Cooking with fire, cooking without pressure knowing he has nothing to prove to anyone, knowing that in less than 6 months the restaurant which may be described as a ‘theatre’ would be no more.
He had just reopened after a lockdown which kept all restaurants in Belgium closed for nearly three months but the place was full and brining with activity.
His cuisine at Chambre Séparée has always centred around fire, you could say that he has mastered the technique to perfection and brought a touch of the countryside to the city.
There is a succession of small dishes, one after the other which showcase what he can do with fire. There are no frills. The essence is in the taste and in the ingredients. Dishes so clean the only decoration came through from the ceramic plates.
It is the perfect prelude to a succession of dishes which would culminate with the GELINAZ’s dish of the year to date, snails with spring onion on a sourdough, so good that we had to ask for a second helping.
I’m dining there with Andrea Petrini, one of the most influential food writers in the world and also the founder of the Gelinaz! collective of which Kobe Desramaults is one of the early members.
GELINAZ! represents the rock and roll element of the cooking world organising avant-garde events that have always pushed boundaries and been forward-looking. They may be even more forward-thinking than Andrea could ever have imagined. Take the last event organised in December called the stay at home shuffle. Who would have thought that come a few months later, most restaurants would be closed and chefs would be constrained to stay at home because of COVID-19.
This is Andrea’s first trip after the ‘lockdown’ and we both agree that sitting down at table for a long stretch to eat a succession of perfectly executed dishes is by no means easy. Kobe, however, delivers and not just on the food front. He is proudly collecting vinyls which he plays in the restaurant.
Gent will be a different place without Kobe Desramaults in three months time. Of course, the food scene there is still worth discovering but if the pandemic and COVID-19 permits it, now would be the time to enjoy Kobe’s final days of ‘rock and roll’ in the Flemish city.
Who knows where the wind and the pandemic will take him after December. What’s for sure is that the Belgian chef is not resting on his laurels. He might take some time off like he did when he closed In de Wulf. But he will be back, starting from fresh somewhere else and what’s for sure, he will be having fun playing his records and cooking with fire.