I used to go to Brussels every month. Some of my best clients were there. I loved it, I loved them, I loved the food.
I organized several Christmas parties at one of the best restaurants in the city, Comme chez Soi. In the kitchen, overlooking the chef and the brigade. Table of twelve. An incredible meal in the making, right under our nose.
At times like these, under fire, in battlefield conditions, the kitchen reverts to what it has always been since Escoffier’s time: a brigade, a paramilitary unit, in which everyone knows what they have to do, and how to do it. Officers make fast and necessarily irrevocable decisions, and damn the torpedoes if it isn’t the best decision. There’s no time to dither, to waffle, to ponder, to empathize when there’s incoming fire threatening to bring the whole kitchen and dining room crashing down. Move forward! Take that hill!
Anthony Bourdain, The Nasty Bits, 2006
There is something to be said about a table for twelve. As the host, this is the largest I could handle properly. Thirteen, no can do. Fourteen, much too big.
Now back to the chefs. Not every chef wants to spend his whole life leading a brigade. Or working for a brigadier. Or take that hill. These chefs, who saw action, who smelt blood, who still want to make great food but don’t care anymore about paramilitary units, these are our La Belle Assiette chefs. Poets.
To be continued…
Check out La Belle Assiette chefs in Belgium.
L.T. Sachs is a member of La Belle Assiette board.