What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?
At the age of 10, I was home alone and was determined to bake my very first cake.The kitchen was completely turned upside down but the cake was successful. That same year I was allowed to help in the delicatessen shop where my uncle worked. That’s when I knew that the kitchen would be my life.
What, or who, would you say has inspired your cooking the most?
Actually, there are several chefs who have inspired me. The most important chef in my career was Ferdy Debecker from “Eyckerhof” restaurant in Bornem*. Before we had our restaurant I was his sous chef for four years. He taught me the tricks of the trade.
Describe your culinary style…
A beautiful “product” kitchen in which one ingredient plays the lead in each dish, the main ingredient is always cooked to perfection with ease. We try to frame the dish with playful garnishes without taking the attention away from the main ingredient.
What would you say is the main focus/concept for your menu at Princesa Yaiza?
The dishes will be those we serve in our restaurant, but reworked with certain ingredients or preparations that give a nod to Lanzarote or Spain. So if we are making our signature paella, we’ll source some of the ingredients when we arrive in Lanzarote and we’ll finish the dishes with herbs and flowers that we have picked locally.
What are you most looking forward to about being at Princesa Yaiza?
Working with a team of chefs who have a different nationality and culture. This must be very inspiring. You can learn a lot from each other.
What do you think makes a restaurant or menu sosuccessful?
Personality and hospitality. I find that when people go to a restaurant, they need to feel at home. As a chef I find it important to develop a personal style so that my guests recognise myself in it, and hopefully appreciate it.
What are your most indispensable ingredients?
A good broth, dashi or chicken. And a good farm butter.
What kind of experience do you aim to give guests when you cook for them?
I want my guests have an enjoyable and relaxing time, tasting top products in a beautiful setting. prepared in a perfect manner and with respect for the product with a touch of creativity.
What would you say has been the most memorable moment in your culinary career so far?
Winning the contest Prosper Montagne, with the title “first cook of Belgium 2011”and to be appointed in 2015 as “Masterchef of Belgium”.Also starting up our own restaurant in 2013 was memorable. A dream I cherished for years and I finally saw come true.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self, starting out a career in the world of food?
Do not hesitate, just do it… but I have already come so far, so I would do it exactly the same way.I think we have already made a nice trail.
What’s next for you/Whats projects do you have lined up?
Give our level in the restaurant a little push and perhaps participate in a few years in the Bocuse d’or. And who knows, in a few years a second company. I am still full of plans, although it is not easy to bring everything to realisation.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Chocolate, I’m addicted… 🙂
What restaurant is currently at the top of your list to dine at?
Alinea in Chicago. But I’m going there in April.
Find out more about Chef de Loover and the guest chef series at Princess Yaiza here |www.princesayaiza.com