The way the cookie crumbles: Ingrid Neven

I hope you guys already had the chance to read some of my new blog items where I ask chefs 10 question. The previous 2 chefs I question were Syrco Bakker and Giovani Oosters. This time the I asked the questions is one that just couldn’t miss on my list.  In the 14 years I eat her dishes not once I have been disappointed!! (and trust me I’ve tasted quite a few in all those years) On top of that she’s a great chick 🙂 She no one else than Chef Ingrid Neven from my all-time favorite restaurant Pazzo!

Ingrid Neven

1. What is your favorite local product(s) to work with? And in which way should it be prepared?

Especially the things the seasons produce time after time, in autumn(my fav season) the wild forest mushrooms, the Polder hare (TOP!). Brussels sprouts, Belgian endive, …. In summertime all the njammy local fruits like strawberries, raspberries and in spring asparagus. In our kitchen we just love to mix all those things to get surprising results like mixing them with products from Italian and Japanese  cuisine.  Although the best way to prepare them is the most natural as possible!

BTW, we have a friend (no name) who searches for wild “rucola” or eatable mushrooms in roadsides, forests and fields (snappy and local).

2. Is it important for you to use local products?

Yes, but only if it are products of high quality… I mean if a product from down the street has a bad or poor quality, I prefer getting a product from high quality even if it has to come from somewhere else. Also because of our Italian and Japanese influenced dishes some ingredients can’t be found locally 🙂

3. An ingredient you couldn’t miss in your kitchen?

Spices, first of all salt & pepper, preferably sea salt, but also spices like ras- el- hanout,  wasabi, fresh herbs in general, they always give a different dimension to a dish.

4. When did you get the passion for cooking?

From my mom, I’m a real farmer’s daughter. My mom always made her own ice-cream from fresh milk from our own cows (nothing beats that!!). She was also butcher and for a long time we butchered and prepared our own animals… so I basically always had great and fresh food already from a young age.

5. Who is your big example in the gastronomical world?

I’m a huge fan of Nobu Matsuhisa, I have all his books and already ate at his original restaurant in LA, amazing Japanese cuisine with little twist.

6. Where do you get your inspiration for making new dishes and combinations?

Going out to eat, cookbooks, but also by just walking around in food stores, open air markets or supermarkets (mostly sun wah an Asian store in Belgium).

7. What has been the most culinary experience? (The restaurant was already on my list, but now I got even more curious)

My last culinary highlight was last year in NYC at the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, a very unique dining experience, nice pure flavors with Japanese influences. No nonsense!

8. For which dish would you make a big sacrifice to be able to eat it?

Well, if I would ever be in dead row, you never know, my last wish would be a last supper at Nobu LA!! (My ultimate dream would of course be Japan)

9. What is your most wonderful memory of chef school?

Without any doubt the practical classes by Mrs. Vanderstraeten, a small a small delicate woman who knew how to give gas, not your average teacher, but a real worker!! Every time it felt like it was the real thing, I learned a lot from her!

10. A culinary experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant?

There are so many, but a piece of advice I’d like to give is that no matter at what level you eat, ENJOY it and go somewhere without expectations… only then you’ll have a total experience of a restaurant! Usually it is not only the influence of the waiter or food that counts, but also the atmosphere or company…so again ENJOY and every culinary experience will be an incredible one!!

ingrid neven by Mastercooks

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