BRUSSELS: The Bois de la Cambre is the green lung of the city. It is also a major traffic throughfare that connects the south of the city to the centre. It is the local’s best kept secret, few tourists who venture to Europe’s capital know that the city is full of parks, woods and even forests and fewer venture to this part of Brussels.
The closure of the Bois de la Cambre to traffic last year caused an uproar. While, it gave much needed respite to locals in the days of lockdown, once restrictions were relaxed, drivers were angry with its closure that led to huge traffic jams. The issue was partially resolved through politics and court cases and a compromise was found which opened a part of the park to cars but which made another part of the park car-free permanently.
This summer, the founders of Le Kiosque, a space opened last year, are working on a project to make the Bois de la Cambre more well known. Together with René Sepul, a food writer and book publisher, they will organise six bespoke dinners called Dinner in the Woods with six local chefs.
A first test dinner was organised on 13 June. St Kilda were in charge of the food with natural wines provided by one of the leading Brussels importers Titulus.
It’s a magical space in the middle of nature, a haven of peace away from it all. Damien Bouchery from Restaurant Bouchery will kick off the series of events on 28 June with the first dinner at Le Kiosque.
It will be followed by Nicholas Decloedt and Caroline Baerten of Humus x Hortense on 20 July, Isabelle Arpin of Restaurant Isabelle Arpin in the first part of August, Milan La Roche and Antonio Jaumaux of St Kilda on 23 August. Richard Schaffer and Mathilde Hasse of Le 203 will be hosting their dinner on 11 September and the event ends with Hendrix Dierendonck, the renowned butcher who last year opened a butcher shop in a street not far away from the Bois.
René Sepul told Food and Wine Gazette that he selected these names because they have a connection to the place. “Most of them are within walking distance of the Bois and their cuisine also reflects the place which is all about enjoying nature,” he said.
Le Kiosque was opened last year by Charlie Gordower, joint owner of the two franchises Schievelavabo, Samuel Urbain who hails from Paris and has a number of concepts in Paris including Bistrot Urbain and Lisa Kajita who has a communication agency in Paris that focuses on gastronomy.
With Le Kiosque, they want to turn the space into a cultural centre. On the menu, they have snacks and dishes that are either bio or come from producers that are close by. In the past months, they’ve also introduced Jazz nights on Wednesday evening, stand-up comedy on Tuesday and a DJ on Friday. An open-air cinema is also in their plans.
Dinner in the Woods is another part of their project. With a basic kitchen, the invited chefs will be creating a dinner that keeps with the spirit of the place.
One of the dishes of each menu will be incorporated into the menu of Le Kiosque throughout the year (or the season depending on the ingredients of the dish). Every chef also has the possibility to create a picnic basket that costs EUR 25 per person. It can be ordered online to be consumed in the Bois.
René Sepul said that after this first experience, he would like to publish a guide called “Un été partage’ (A Shared Summer). He will profile the chefs, the dinners, the recipes while also sharing the history of the Bois de la Cambre and Le Kiosque’s ambitions. It will also serve as a guide for walks and bicycle rides in the area as well as what is authorised and not within the wood and the surrounding forest. He will explain the flora and fauna of this beautiful area.
The dinners cost EUR 100 and include an apertif as well as the wines. Every dinner starts at 7.30pm and ends around 10.30pm.