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Harmony. The harmony of a dish, of course, but not that alone. Place, atmosphere, service... all should play their part in creating a fully rounded and pleasurable experience. This virtually philosophical approach to the profession, as to life itself, calls for close attention to be paid to the seasons and the time of the year, along with respect for the raw ingredients and the sophistication and elegance with which they are presented to the diner. It calls for a subtle balance between tradition and the avant-garde, restraint and yet comfort, simplicity and creativeness. This is the hallmark of Le Chalet de la Forêt since its rebirth in 1999. It is the fruit of long years of happenstance, different encounters and new experiences. Since my childhood in Africa where I became keenly aware of nature at my father's side, a man who was a lifelong lover of good food; at Le Bistrot du Mail which opened in Brussels in 1992, where I was able to put into practice my burgeoning passion; not to mention the Scholteshof with Roger Souvereyns, who is a master of the unity of place, time and cuisine. There was harmony then and harmony there will always be.
Mine has a sweet Asian touch: I prepare it with mild spices (coriander, cinnamon, caraway, cardamom, ginger) and serve it with glazed turnips, bok choy, a mousseline of apples and dates, an almond and cocoa crumble, a smoked chocolate ganache and squab jus with bitter orange.
My squab comes from Jean-Yves Bruyère, a farmer in Waret, Wallonia. He supplies all of Belgium’s top restaurants, and his pigeons are the best in the country. They are semi-free range, fed first on crop milk and then whole grains. I like to cultivate long-term close relations with my suppliers.