Hertog Jan x La Cime Collaboration
Chef Gert de Mangeleer of Hertog Jan in Zedelgem, Belgium
#61 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, 3* Michelin
Chef Yusuke Takada of La Cime in Osaka, Japan
Visited: August 24th, 2017 – Lunch Service
Elegance and refinement epitomized the food forged from the collaboration between two outstanding Chefs, Chef Gert de Mangeleer and Chef Yusuke Takada.
I was humbled and speechless when an invitation from Visit Flanders, Arts Flanders Japan and Chef Gert de Mangeleer of Restaurant Hertog Jan arrived on my mailbox. This gracious and rare opportunity allowed me to venture into the Flanders region of Belgium to be immersed in the gastronomic bounty this beautiful part of the world has to offer. Aside from the many wondrous adventures this trip of a lifetime entailed, I was ecstatic to learn that it included a Four-Hands collaboration lunch between Chef Gert de Mangeleer and Chef Yusuke Takada.
Chef Gert de Mangeleer is the Chef of the 3* Hertog Jan in Zedelgem near Bruges, Belgium. Chef Gert owns the restaurant along with his business partner and Sommelier, Joachim Boudens. Hertog Jan gained it’s first Michelin star back in 2006, followed by a second star in 2009. In 2011, Hertog Jan was the first Belgian restaurant to receive the coveted third star. Chef Gert style is all about the perfection of simplicity, especially letting the ingredients speak for themselves. Hertog Jan is not only a restaurant, but also a vibrant working farm where Chef Gert and his farmers cultivate their own vegetables, herbs and flowers that they use in their restaurant.
Chef Takada-san is the Chef and owner of the 2* restaurant La Cime located in Osaka, Japan. His culinary training was spent in Tsuji Culinary Institute in France, as well as working at renowned restaurants such at the 2* Le Meurice in Paris, France. This resulted in a style that exemplified French fine dining intertwined with the precision of Japanese techniques and seasonal flavours of Japanese ingredients.
The day before collaborative lunch, I was very fortunate to witness how the Chefs strolled through Hertog Jan’s lush gardens as they picked ingredients, brainstormed ideas, and discussed flavours for their upcoming collaborative lunch.
The West Flanders pig, called “Seigneur de Vidaigne”, is a heritage pork breed that roams freely along the picturesque slopes of Vidaigne Hill in West Flanders. The unique flavour of the pork is attributed to the way it is cultivated. The pigs grow up in a clean environment, untouched by antibiotics, and most importantly, they are fed with proper nutrition. They stay close with their mother for a long time therefore growing up in a stress-free environment which greatly enhances the quality of the meat
Presentation of Smoked Duck for the Main Courses
The pièce de résistance, was the aged duck smoked in hay cooked by both Chef Gert and Chef Takada-san. Before plating, the whole duck was presented to us by one of our lovely host, Evy. This marvelous duck made its way back into the kitchen for the Chefs to transform into their masterpieces. Each chef will create a dish based on his own interpretation from this smoked duck and eel.
Chef Takada-san’s Interpretation of Duck and Eel
For the main course, Chef Takada-san composed this minimalistic yet flavourful dish made from the mesmerizing aged and smoked duck that both he and Chef Gert cooked. The duck was utterly tender, flavoursome and exuded sophisticated dimensions achieved from being smoked. It was sitting on a bed of a thick black sauce, oozing with intense sweet eel flavours
Chef Gert’s Interpretation of Duck and Eel
The Grand Finale of the Candy Trolley
The collaboration lunch between Chef Gert and Chef Takada-san was the pinnacle of exquisiteness and refinement manifested by their sublime creations. It was a collaboration where the chefs evidently worked harmoniously together, feeding off each other’s energies, resulting in a cohesive and well executed tasting menu.
The front of the house team at Hertog Jan, led by Joachim Boudens, who is also the co-owner and Sommelier, delivered a service that was flawless. The staff were truly passionate at what they do as they imparted their knowledge about the many ingredients that they meticulously explained with every dish. The wine pairings, curated by Joachim and First Sommelier, Dries Corneillie not only complemented each course but magnified the flavours and hidden notes of the ingredients.
The masterpieces produced by the combination of minds of the two great Chefs of Hertog Jan and La Cime is something that I will remember for a long time.