Sang Hoon Degeimbre

Air du Temps

Chaussée de Louva, 181
T. +32.(0)8.1813048

Invariably turned to east: contemporary cuisine stiff neck keeps on going, from nouvelle cuisine up to Ferran Adrià. Yet, it’s very rare that Asian fever actually turns into a real avant-garde restaurant. There’s only molecular chef Sang Hoon Degeimbre, a south-Korean born owner of a European two starred restaurant. He opened his restaurant in Noville sur Mehaigne, near Namur: totally self-taught, he’s helped by the faith of those who are predestined and the complicity of his wife Carine.

Its name is Air du temps but its minute hands move ahead in concepts and techniques. His debut is in the role of maître: as a kid he dreamed of being a pharmacist but, after a quick transit by the hotel management school, he woke himself up as a waiter and sommelier, stroke by a Chassagne Montrachet. He wouldn’t cook until 1997, when he switched on the Noville hazard. Sang Hoon signs a cuisine based on texture, temperature and structure games. Raw material is the beginning and the end of it all, always being it picked up in a 15 kilometers distance (not the spices, of course), enhanced by personal treatments and tailor-made cookings that follow Hervé This’s teachings. But Air du temps’s science is located more upstream than downstream, in the concept of recipes rather than on its production.

It’s called food pairing, a concept studied by chemist Bernard Lahousse: it consists in mapping all natural ingredients according to their aromatic molecules, then it finds out their tasty affinities or idiosyncrasies so that it can be match or substitute them. Because chefs are intuition chemists, as Gualtiero Marchesi often repeats. Some examples? A kiwi has 14 aromatic molecules in common with an oyster, foie gras is tied to jasmine by a sulphuric perfumes double wire and grapefruit to blue cheese by methylxanoat. Correspondences which are worth of a contemporary Baudelaire who dictates Sang Hoon’s plot: Comme de longs echos qui de loin se confondent/ dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité.

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Alessandra Meldolesi

Umbra di Perugia con residenza a Bologna, è giornalista e scrittrice di cucina. Tra i numeri volumi tradotti e curati, spicca "6, autoritratto della Cucina Italiana d’Avanguardia" per Cucina & Vini