Chef Matthieu Beudaert, a former art historian turned chef and his wife Sofie Delbeke have announced that they have decided to close their fine-dining restaurant Table d’Amis and gastro bar Gust to reopen in a more casual style a new restaurant called Beudaert. The decision comes a few weeks after the 9th anniversary of the opening of the restaurant in the Belgian city of Kortrijk.
“We have been reflecting for a long time and on a trip to Bordeaux and San Sebastian last summer we became convinced that fine dining and long tasting menus was not what we wanted to do any more,” Matthieu told Food and Wine Gazette in an interview.
“We no longer want to force our guests to spend a lot of money on a tasting menu. Our new place will have an a la carte menu and it will reopen on 2 September. We will change the interior and the concept and name but we believe that the restaurant in its current format restricts us,” he said.
Table d’Amis in the Flemish city of Kortrijk was considered to be a gastronomic restaurant and a reference point for the city. Matthieu was an art historian who became a chef by chance. He loved to cook and would go together with his wife on gastronomic trips around the work but while he took cooking courses he never imagined he would become a chef until he won a hobby cook competition organised by Weekend Knack (which his wife had enrolled him for). At the time he was working in the Royal Museum of Brussels.
When they opened the restaurant in 2009, the accolades soon started to arrive. In 2013, he became the Young top chef in Flanders and the restaurant was awarded 17/20 in the Gault & Millau guide and a Michelin star. A year later, the restaurant was named the vegetable restaurant of the year.
“When we opened, our aim was to not lose money. We were not ambitious but the restaurant was successful and quickly was recognised by Gault & Millau and Michelin. I believe that the success came to fast for someone without any experience of cooking,” said Matthieu.
Their style was casual when they had the restaurant in the outskirts of Kortrijk but they were constrained to move to the city centre because of road works. The style of cooking became more sophisticated, also because of the expectations after they clinched a Michelin star. Matthieu enjoyed until he discovered that he needed to go back to the origins and that fine dining is no longer something he necessarily wants.
“I want to be able to cook without constraints, I want to be able to print my menu every morning depending on what produce I have. I want to be able to serve basic things like turbot with peas and if the peas finish, I’ll change to carrots without any problems. I want to make the restaurant more spontaneous where people have a chance of choosing what they want to eat.”
He is of the view that tasting menus have gone too far. “Tasting menus are dead. Long live gastronomic freedom,” he said.
At the beginning of September, Matthieu and Sofie will be launching restaurant beudaert in the same location. “We have decided to use our surname because we want to give it our best shot with great enthusiam. Beudaert is the restaurant where we want to eat ourselves on our day off. Freedom and purity will be central. Freedom is reflected in the formula: a weekly changing menu in which the most beautiful products get a leading role. We find the set-menu passé, we want to give everyone at the table the chance to choose a dish that appeals to them. Choosing is an essential part of a table experience for us.
Matthieu said that the new restaurant will go back to the essentials offering a good glass of wine, a delicious dish and a warm atmosphere. They will continue to collaborate with the best growers, breeders and fishermen and present dishes that will make the produce shine.
You can enjoy a last dinner at Table d’amis until 18 August. The restaurant is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for lunch and dinner. Gastrobar Gust will remain open until 27 August. Open lunch and dinner on Thursday evening, Friday lunch, Saturday evening, Sunday and Monday lunch and dinner.