When Zaiyu Hasegawa, chef of Tokyo restaurant Den came to Belgium to cook at Hertog Jan, the three Michelin star restaurant of chef Gert de Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens he came with a pan and a plan. He and Hirouasu Kawate, chef of Florilège challenged the Belgian chef to cook a Japanese style rice to accompany the main dish.
The Belgian chef rose to the challenge and made a rice with cepes, marrow and snails which was one of those dishes that remains etched in your memories and which accompanied the pigeon from Steenvoorde and a dashi that was made by the two Japanese chefs.
This was a splendid six hands dinner that Gert and Joachim hosted with the support of Visit Flanders and Arts Flanders Japan and which was aimed to raise awareness about this Belgian region.
At the moment, the Belgian chef is reciprocating the visit with a trip to Japan where he is cooking at Florilege, Den as well as Yusuke Takada’s La Cime in Osaka (the latter cooked lunch with Gert on the same day).
The chefs drew inspiration from the garden of Hertog Jan for this dinner as well as the produce that they found like the cepes which they picked up from the forest or the fish from North Sea Chefs.
We have become used to two chefs collaborating to serve dinner but it is less common for three chefs to join forces and cook together. This is more challenging not only for the chefs who are composing the menu but also for the guests who may be overwhelmed by the differences that could exist.
Here the three chefs combined perfectly to create a menu that was harmonious and also collaborative with many dishes being a collaboration between the chefs which is not necessarily common in such occasions.
When it came to the appetizers, each chef went his own way. Kawate served celeriac with potato and miso, Hasegawa served a beetroot dish with dashi and basil seeds while De Mangeleer reinterpreted the classic mussels and Belgian fries dish.
Gert then served young herring with pickled herbs from the garden.
This was followed by Oyster, shizo, caviar and goat’s cheese by Kawate.
Hasegawa served mushroom with tofu made from cow’s milk and a dashi which he prepared.
Kawate and De Mangeleer collaborated on the next dish. The Japanese chef prepared cod with a crab sauce which was then finished off by De Mangeleer with male zucchini flower, fennel blossoms and parsley oil.
Hasegawa and De Mangeleer served eel which was cooked yakitori style by Zaiyu and topped with green herbs from the garden.
The pigeon dish was maybe the best dish of the evening. Here, the three chefs worked together to prepare the pigeon and dashi and this was combined to perfection by the rice prepared by Gert De Mangeleer.
The desserts followed. First, Gert served a classic from Hertog Jan, a raspberry cheese cake with rose. This was followed by Kawate’s chocolate, caramel and soya and Hasegawa’s kuzu with honey, herbs and flowers.
All photos by Piet De Kersgieter.
We were guests of Hertog Jan, Visit Flanders and Arts Flanders Japan.