Last week I started with a new recurring feature on my blog where I ask 10 questions to chefs ( link toSyrco Bakker’s answers). This will give us a closer look at their passion for food and how/when they got this passion. The question I like the most is actually the question about their best memory/anecdote of chef school. One of my best memories would be when a fellow student dropped a bowl of soup on a customer (you should have been there). The second chef that I asked to provide answers to my ten questions, is Giovani Oosters. He is the chef/owner from restaurant Vous Le Vous and still up to today, the chef that has prepared the best piece of Lamb I ever ate! What I like about Giovani, is first of all the fact that he’s a great guy. He speaks with so much passion and enthusiasm about our mutual interest. But also because his interest and passions is not limited to cooking only. He also grows lots of ingredients he uses in his kitchen himself. You can read more about Giovani’s restaurant in my blogpost about my visit to Vous Le Vous. I can only recommend it.
1. What is your favorite local product(s) to work with? And in which way should it be prepared?
“Limburgse stroop” (Syrup aka Apple butter) is a one of those top products we can and have to be very proud of. It has no added sugars and is still a handcrafted product. I love cooking with beers from the Limburg region or the Hasseltse Jenever (aka Dutch Gin) to make some great sauces, pastries and since recently our (from Vous Le Vous) pre-dessert. Not to forget the Limburg cloister pig slowly cooked for 3 day at 69°C, a true delicacy!
2. Is it important for you to use local products?
I love surprising my guests and if I can do this with a Flemish Cuckoo (type of Belgian chicken) or bio piglet from around the corner it makes me even happier! I also see it as my duty to show everybody how great our local products are, a task I love doing with whole my heart.
3. An ingredient you couldn’t miss in your kitchen?
Maaslands herbal salt (Kruidenzout in Dutch) is my Provençal herbs from the Limburg Region… FYI this “salt” is an herbal mix of herbs ao. Thyme, wild marjoram, laurel, sage and malva, filled up with sea salt and pepper.
4. When did you get the passion for cooking?
Thanks to Roger Souvereyns’ cooking. He has given me the real passion for cooking.
5. Who is your big example in the gastronomical world?
Roger Souvereyns, with a two-acre vegetable garden and herb garden a true pioneer of the contemporary Belgian ‘terroir’. For me he is one of the greatest Belgian chefs. (Small interview with Roger)
6. Where do you get your inspiration for making new dishes and combinations?
From nature, while walking or cycling. I not only enjoy the environment, I also absorb it and take it with me… when I come home afterwards and I am in front of my computer I start bringing back those images, fantasizing and combining.
7. What has been the most culinary experience? (The restaurant was already on my list, but now I got even more curious)
For my wife’s birthday we went to Hertog Jan for dinner, for me this is a type of cooking I like and even touches me… enjoyment at its best.
8. For which dish would you make a big sacrifice to be able to eat it?
9. What is your most wonderful memory of chef school?
In all honesty I wasn’t a good student, so my best memories must be the ones when I wasn’t there 🙂
10. A culinary experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant?
Haha, great question :-)! I believe the everybody should really try the buckwheat pancakes from granny Lucienne in Zutendaal.