With that name, Gert De Mangeleer could be the cannibal cycler of many traditional competitions in Northern Europe. Or perhaps a beer producer with a strong reputation. Instead, this big man born in Dendermonde, a minuscule village in the heart of the Flanders, has chosen the kitchen. And he was right to do so, since the most exciting frontiers of cooking in the new future are in fact in Belgium. In particular, in the Northern territory, that of Flanders, which not by chance can boast an impressive concentration (on a tiny territory) of starred restaurants and emerging chefs.
With three brand new stars in Belgium, De Mangeleer bought with his dearest friend Joachim Boudens (who, on top of being a sommelier is also maître) the Hertog Jan da Francque, renewing the brasserie and transforming it into a temple of good food. The chef, who had previously refined his skills at the Den Gouden Harynck in Bruges (1997-1998) and then at the ‘T Molentje in Zeebrugge (until 2002), perfected his art: his is a contemporary and lively Belgian cuisine with a very personal touch. He plays a lot with natural choices thanks to a vegetable garden 5 km from the restaurant (and which, within 2 years, should also become the location of the new restaurant, with some ten extra places), focusing a lot on wine and food pairing (the wine list is quite surprising since it puts together wines from Santorini, Riesling, Italian labels and local beers, among the others) and offering a very neat and rigorous cuisine, starting from the mise en place.
The professional curiosity of Gert and Joachim is clearly evident in the linguistic and culinary Esperanto that appears at the table. Italian cutlery, a welcoming André Clouet (blanc de noir) Champagne, olive oil from Maiorca (custom-made for the restaurant), appetizers that look South and enjoy representing the Mediterranean area with lemon jelly, capers and powdered olives, vegetables, herbs and flowers from their garden and so on, including the Limousin lamb and the Duke of Berkshire pig leg, including a tasty classic dish that puts together Potatoes, coffee and Mimolette cheese and the magnificent Marinated avocado with powdered tomato and olive oil. All these are of the highest quality, with a daring game of balances (given the continued divagations), but successful and in many cases thrilling.
Born in Dendermonde in 1977, since 2005 he’s the owner, together with his partner Joachim Boudens, of the Hertog Jan, a restaurant awarded first with one (2007), then with two (2010) and finally with 3 Michelin stars (2012). Among his previous experiences the one at the Den Gouden Harynck di Bruges (1997-1998) and that at the al ’t Molentje di Zeebrugge (1998-2002) need to be mentioned.
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Alessandro Gilmozzi foraging in the woods
Sunset in Pollara, with Filucudi and Alicudi in the background. We’re in the Aeolian Archipelago, on the island of Salina, which hosted the first summer edition of Care's in May 2017
Earlier this week Ángel León, chef at Aponiente near Cadiz, was nominated "best chef in Europe" at Madrid Fusión. In the picture, he’s sipping a glass of marine bioluminescence, made with proteins from a special type of phytoplankton. This was the topic of the lesson he gave this week at the Spanish congress. He’ll cover the subject also at Identità Milano on Monday 6th March, at 5.15 pm