Kasper Kurdhal, the executive chef of Le Chalet de la Foret, a two Michelin star restaurant in Brussels loves intellectual stimulation and discussion. It is what guides him at work in his interactions with chef patron Pascal Devalkeneer but it is also something he cherishes in his friendships as you can see from the second part of our interview with this talented chef.
He is at his best cooking in a fine-dining environment but away from the cooking he looks for authenticity and simplicity. For our in-depth conversation with Kasper head to our interview here. This is the second part of our interview in our usual Q&A format.
Your best ever meal?
I think the best ever meal was at Jean-Georges in new York. It was remarkable and the most surprising. I was with Davide Scabin, a very good friend. We created Aqua together. When I was el Bulli, his maitre d’ came to do a stage at the restaurant and the Adria brothers invited him over for two weeks to bring with him his creations. But he did not want to give them anything. He just cooked pizza and normal pasta for them.
Is there something you don’t eat?
I don’t like salmon anymore. It is something that Iave eaten so much of in my life, in Denmark. Salmon was an everyday meal in Denmark, when my grandmother was growing up she was not allowed to eat salmon on Sundays because in the 1930s it was such an everyday meal that you would not eat it on holidays.
Any chefs that inspire you?
Will my friend from Bali. We drove all over Spain together. We drove around in an FBI car when we were young. The level of intellectually in the communication really inspires me.
I also admire lot of chefs from GELINAZ! as I find it very inspiring. It is mainly the intellectual stimulation that leads to creativity. You do not need to talk about food for creativity to kick in.
Your mentor or mentors?
Without a shadow of doubt Roger Souvereyns. But I have appreciated all the chefs I’ve worked with including Alfonso Iaccarino of Don Alfonso in Sorrento. He was very fond of his vegetable garden. He never cooked because he couldn’t really cook but he was a chef.
Do you cook at home?
Yes sometimes. It is either my wife or myself cooking. We switch. But cooking together in the kitchen doesn’t work.
Your favourite dish?
Chicken curry. It is a dish I learned from a woman in Sri Lanka in the jungle. We connected with a driver who turned out to be a university professor. He took me around and at a certain point we get there and he tells me look how they prepare the coconuts here. We stay there, all tourists had left and the woman, a grandmother, showed me how to make a white curry. She sent her son up a tree to pick a coconut. She cooked it on a clay stove on an open fire. It was pure magic. (PS – the langoustine dish at Le Chalet de la Foret has hints of this curry Kasper tells me)
One thing in a restaurant kitchen which should be in everyone’s kitchen?
A sharp knife.
Your favourite places to eat?
I like to go to small pizzerias in Italy on the hillside. I search for authenticity and simplicity. I don’t like brasserie food which is ordinary and boring but I love to go to Toucan in Brussels.
Your favourite books?
Sun Tzu, the art of war.