BRUSSELS: Chef Nicholas Decloedt of Humus Hortense has been working together with Caroline Baerten on a roots to leaves and a zero-waste approach long before this became a trend.
Fresh from their new Green Michelin star, over the past weeks they have launched a project to help and support their farmer Dries Delanote of Monde des Mille Couleurs who lost all his restaurant clients due to the lockdown overnight.
“The consequence was an enormous amount of food that was lost in the fields which was heartbreaking to see,” Nicholas and Carolean said.
Nicholas and Caroline started the project Save The Harvest under the hashtag #savetheharvest to raise awareness on the matter. “We want to raise awareness among the general public that it is not just the restaurant business that is struggling but the whole food chain of artisanal producers and ingredients that has been broken because of the lockdowns.”
Belgian restaurants have been closed since the end of October with no date yet for the reopening.
Humus Hortense have bought as many vegetables as they possibly could from the farm and turned them into condiments such as pickles, chutneys and soup to support this precious farming community and other artisanal small-scale producers that would otherwise be at a complete loss.
“In these challenging times, we want to create a platform for positive actions where everybody can contribute.”
Among the condiments they produced there are herb infused kombuchas, botanical cocktails, herbal liqueurs, herbal oils, vegetable veloutes, pickles, piccalilly, sweet and sour chutneys and green tomato ketchups among others.
The acclaimed Brussels vegetable-based restaurant Humus Hortense earlier this month earned the sustainability star from Michelin.
Immediately and legitimately they replied that they were grateful to have been awarded a Michelin Green Star for their year-old sustainable efforts in gastronomy.
However, like Christian Puglisi, of restaurant Relae earlier, they also made the point that sustainability in gastronomy shouldn’t be a separate category. “Now it is the time to add a sixth criteria where every restaurant is screened on their best sustainable practices. An inspiring idea, dear inspectors?” they said.
Nicolas trained in some of the best fine dining restaurants in Europe (Mugaritz, In de Wulf and Bon Bon) before he developed his style of cooking which is guided by botanical research and foraged edibles. His eye for detail as an art photographer are reflected in his plating.
Caroline Baerten attended the renowned culinary institute Ter Duinen at Koksijde and additionally became a nutritionist and a WSET certified sommelière. As a former art historian , she displays her artistic skills in the interior design and the ceramic tableware at humus x hortense. She is the founding mother of the ‘Soilmates‘ movement and the ‘Heritage Bean Project’ where she works at the intersection of botanical gastronomy, health from the soil up and ecology.
Together with food scientist Maxime Willems and botanist/wild farmer Dries Delanote, the kitchen team and bartender run a food lab guided by a roots-to-leaves and zero-waste approach and where age-old fermentation techniques are tested.