Hendrik Dierendonck, the renowned nose to tail Belgian butcher, has opened the long-awaited shop in Rue St. Catherine in central Brussels. “It is a childhood dream come true for me to open a Brussels shop particularly in the city centre.”
Dierendonck told Food and Wine Gazette that this was a big step for him. “I have always been working on the Belgian coast and since I was young, I have always dreamt of this step.” When he was young, the Belgian butcher used to work with his father Raymond Dierendonck in St Idesbald on the Belgian coast in summer while in winter he spent his time in Brussels.
The opening of the Brussels shop replaces the Jack O’Shea shop in the Place St. Catherine area which closed abruptly last summer though it has been completely refurbished in an open style to reflect Dierendonck’s approach to butchery.
“I want to present Brussels residents and visitors to Brussels with an old school approach. Here they will find the artisanal approach, with an emphasis on terroir and passion being the focus point of our products. All the produce in the shop is made by ourselves. You will not find Italian or Spanish hams but rather hams which have been prepared by Dierendonck himself. We want to make a statement that we are proud of what we do and that we have the quality (even if in low quantities) to make great produce.
Apart from the renowned aged beef which you can find at Atelier Dierendonck, you can also find the real black pudding or ‘boudin noir’, their home made Pastrami and different types of hams and sausages among others.
Hendrik told Food and Wine Gazette that he always wanted to open in the Brussels centre. “Like St. Idesblad where my father had his butcher shop there used to be fish shops and bakeries and area of St Catherine has exactly the same feel. It is also a place which traditionally had butchers,” he said.
“The response we have had about the opening of the Brussels shop has been great. Many people are extremely pleased that we come to Brussels. It is great that we can explain our nose to tail philosophy. The clients that come to the Belgian coast from all over Belgium appreciate this and also welcome our advice. We always work to sell the whole animal and have no waste. That is our approach. When my father started in butchery he would buy a cow every three weeks and sell it all. If a particular cut was sold out, we would talk with passion and recommend another cut. This is something that many are rediscovering,” he said,
This philosophy is explained during workshops that are organised at Carcasse, Dierendonck’s restaurant on the Belgian coast which also follows the nose to tail approach. Asked if he would open a Carcasse restaurant in Brussels he said he hoped to be able to open a restaurant but this was not the right time. “I want to be able to offer consistent quality to my customers and then, also with the right staff, hopefully the restaurant will follow,” he said.
While there is no restaurant at the shop, customers will still be able to eat some charcuterie on the butcher’s block.
Dierendonck raises the Belgian Red breed in their own farm. This is an extremely rare breed of cattle and a recognised regional product of West Flanders. The cattle has the capacity to produce quality meat from a grass diet. The permanent pastures located in the Ijzervallej and the polders are suitable for these animals. Dierendonck considers that these pastures called “fat pastures” give the Belgian Red its distinct flavour.
The shop in central Brussels is not only a welcome addition to the Brussels food scene but it will certainly be a tourist attraction in its own right showcasing some of Belgium’s best produce.
The Belgian butcher already supplied Brussels based restaurants such as Bon Bon, La Paix and Ventre St. Gris among others and he hopes to be able to serve more restaurants in future.
Atelier Dierendonck Brussel in Rue St-Catherine 24, Brussels, is open from Tuesday to Friday from 9am to 7pm and on Saturday from 9am to 6.30pm. It is closed on public holidays.