In the second part of our interview with Karen Torosyan, chef of Bozar Restaurant in Brussels we get to know more about the chef who earlier this year bought the restaurant from David Martin of La Paix.
The chef of Armenian origin arrived in Brussels when he was 18 years old and has established himself today as one of the most artisanal chefs in the country if not Europe. He is known for his pate en croute which made him famous not just in Belgium but also outside the country particularly when he won the pate en croute championship in 2015.
But it was the evening that Michelin awarded Bozar Brasserie with a Michelin star that marked his career. On that day, Karen knew that he would be the master of his own destiny.
Your best ever meal?
I would say there are three. One was at Hof Van Cleve in 2013. The other was at Astrance both for the philosophy behind the cooking and also the service. It was unforgettable. Pascal Barbot is on another planet. The last was at La Paix the day after I signed the contract to buy the restaurant. David Martin’s cuisine has personality and is singular just like that of Pascal Devalkeneer and Alexander Dionisio in Brussels. They are on their planet, they do it with conviction.
Chefs that inspire you?
Jean Pierre Bruneau, Alain Troubat of Stirwen and Pascal Devalkeneer.
Who would you consider your mentor?
Jean Pierre Bruneau. This was my first ever fine-dining experience and it was a revelation. It was at Bruneau that I learned everything. Between 13 and 21, my experience in kitchens was an accident on the road. I had stopped studying and could have become anything from a jeweller to a builder or plumber. I landed in a kitchen by accident not by choice. From 21 it became a real passion. I wanted to learn more, I was working very hard. Honestly between 21 and 25, if I count learning French and the cookery courses as work I was working 7 days a week for 3 years non-stop without any holidays. I was like a machine,” he said. He was 60 when I arrived there but he was the first to arrive at the restaurant and the last to leave in the evening. I developed a huge respect for him. My father was a model for me but Jean Pierre also became a model to follow.
Your favourite dish?
I love couscous even if my origins are Armenian. I am a carnivore, I love meat and the combination of the meat, the vegetables and the stock together with the couscous is magical. I also love a steak with fries and salad. I love meatballs with tomato sauce or a spaghetti bolognese but I eat a lot of pasta so I will say Spaghetti Bolognese.
Is there something you don’t eat?
Anything that is bad.
What is your take on social media?
It is important. We are lucky to be in this generation when we have these tools which are at our disposal for free. As long as it is used intelligently it is great. The problem is always excess. Excess creates perverse and negative situations. I am always of the view that whenever there is something that is bad you need to eliminate the excess.
Do you cook at home?
Yes. Sometimes I am tired and prefer to eat out but otherwise, when I am physically in shape, I love it.
Is there something in your professional kitchen that you think should be in everyone’s kitchen?
“Pans which are not non-stick. You need something which allows the flavours of the food to develop through roasting. A pan like that allows you to grill things perfectly.
Your favourite restaurants?
I have too many to list.
Your favourite book?
Anything that is written by Chihiro Masui is amazing. I love all her books and buy all the ones she writes. But I found the one on Astrance incredible.