My visit to a culinary institute

Celebrating a birthday is always a good reason to go to a restaurant. When it is my birthday the restaurant can be a bit better than usually 🙂 🙂 There is no restaurant that speaks more to my imagination than the restaurant I treated myself to for my birthday, the one and only “Comme chez soi”. Comme chez soi, just like Le Cinq, La Tour D’argent, Bocuse’s auberge du Pont de Collonges, are restaurants that are part of culinary history! If it weren’t for these restaurants or the chefs of these restaurants, the gastronomical world today would be totally different… Some people may say that these restaurants didn’t meet up with their expectations when they visited, obviously this depends on what your expectations were before you went?? If you expected a Noma-like restaurant (aka a lab) you indeed wouldn’t have found it at these restaurants… For me it met my expectations 100% or maybe 99% as meeting Pierre Wynants would have made it 100% 😉 You immediately feel this restaurant has a soul when walking in… you could compare it with the ‘Mona Lisa’ it is so much more than just your average portrait of a woman… but that’s my opinion of course :-). If I would have continued chef school and the restaurant business for sure Comme chez soi would have been one of the places where I would have wanted to work  as to me still up to today it is one of the culinary highnesses in Belgium. (Admitted the way they work also reminded me a bit of chef school)

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Comme chez soi zaal 

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If you would ask 10 Belgians what “Comme chez soi” is or represents, they will all say it is absolute top of gastronomy… and everybody and I mean everybody knows “Comme chez soi” generation over generation. Just for those few who don’t know if yet let me tell you more about this piece of Belgian patrimony! The reason why Comme chez soi (or Chez Georges how it was called from 1926 – 1936) became an institute thanks to 1 man Pierre Wynants who took over the restaurant from his father in 1973 (he already worked there from 1961) already having 2 Michelin stars and getting awarded in 1979 with their 3rd Michelin star that they kept until 2006 . The Michelin guide took away 1 Michelin when Pierre retired in 2006 and his son in law Lionel Rigolet (and his wife aka daughter from Pierre Wynants) took over the restaurant. Pierre Wynants was also given the title Dr. Honoris Causa by the “Université François-Rabelais de Tours”… yet another proof of mr. Wynants/ Comme chez soi’s greatness.

Comme chez soi back in the days

Pierre Wynants

Some people say things changed when Lionel Rigolet (Pierre’s son in law) took over the restaurant from Pierre Wynants, but I’m not able to compare and I also believe it should not be done as Lionel is Lionel and Pierre was Pierre 🙂 and both have their own way of cooking and for me “Comme chez soi” will always stay the institute I imagined it would be (Although I must admit I would have loved meeting Pierre Wynants and I missed him by a hair as he just left a few minutes before I entered…).

Me, Lionel Rigolet and Laurance Wynants

Besides serving great food, Comme chez soi is also well known for its fabulous wine collection… people fly in from all over the world because of the beauties they have in their cellar. A Wine Walhalla!! (Believe you me 🙂 ) On their wine list they have 1600 different wines that results in 24000 bottles in the cellar (it used to be 50000). Entering in their cellar is like a candy store if you are into wines as they have wines in it that you can only find in a hand full of places… naturally the big names like Petrus, Latour, Margaux, but also from vineyards that as a non-connoisseur won’t say a thing, but for winelovers and sommeliers they are even more special than all the big names 🙂 Like  the wines from Henri Jayer from before his dead or their collection of Côte Rôtie or the Chartreuse something a lot of people prefer over a glass of cognac (is comparable to Elixir )… To find you way through all these wines Comme chez soi has had a special app created to easily find back the wines you want.

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An eye-catcher for me was the collection of Château d’ Yquem (one of the most famous vineyard for sweet white wine) from 1831 -> 1980 or better what is left from it after an historical tasting they did from these wines around 1980…

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BUT, I was here to eat 🙂 , we took the lunch menu… why? Well we were there for lunch. After a refined appetizer we were served the following menu

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Hake clear soup with star anise, sautéed black tiger shrimps with small onions and mint (FYI, they pass another time to fill your plate )

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Pork fillet with carbides, mixed vegetables with mustard seeds

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Macerated peaches with a reduction of old balsamic vinegar, pineapple sorbet with kirsch

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Not only a treat for the eyes, also for the taste buds, all prepared how it should and topped with some of the tastiest sauces you have ever tried. You might have already noticed that I’m a big Sherry fan? So to make my visit to Comme chez soi an even better one, Cèsar (Comme Chez soi’s sommelier) had paired sherry with my menu instead of ‘regular’ wines… something I appreciated and enjoyed a lot as Sherry is so refined and yet complex… I love it. FYI, this is something every can experience if you want (and ask Cèsar)

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I know it might sound to enthusiastic, but I’m a very enthusiastic person that wants to share how happy experiences like this make me :-)… My goal in life is see and make people smile and basically make them happy, but first of all keeping myself happy… living your life with a smile is so much nicer!!

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Anyhow this was definitely not my last visit to Comme chez soi as Lionel and his team have giving me the taste for more… with as aim to sit at their famous kitchen table where some amazing people have enjoyed a meal before with the best view (besides if my fiancée sits across of me) over the kitchen!

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Comme chez soi keuken 

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Comme Chez soi

Website: http://www.commechezsoi.be

Address: Rouppeplein 23, 1000 Brussels – Belgium

Phone n°: +32 (0)2 / 512 29 21

2 thoughts on “My visit to a culinary institute

  1. Pingback: Top lunch with Top sommeliers at a Top location | Spinelli's Dolce Vita

  2. Pingback: Megavino 2014 | Spinelli's Dolce Vita

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