For me, the two most important elements in a dish are soul and emotion.
To put soul into a dish it needs different layers of taste, textures and temperatures. The presentation wherein I put my emotion is an essential part of the soul. The highest level I can reach is when the dish grows into a memory of our guests. It’s not only the flavour that creates this memory but also the atmosphere in and around the restaurant. The simplicity of the interior with an open view, the walk through the garden and the visit to the kitchen are part of this experience.
I love our garden. My favourite vegetable in the garden is tomato. Through years I got fascinated by all the varieties. Together with the gardeners we have developed 102 varieties and the collection is still growing. Guests can visit the greenhouses where they can see tomatoes grow. From mid June until September we serve a selection of our tomatoes which are the main element of one of my signature dishes. Initially guests are surprised by the simplicity of the dish. They think it’s just another tomato salad but when they start tasting they discover different colours (red/orange/green/ white/ yellow), flavours (sweet /sour) and textures. They don’t expect so much depth from one simple ingredient in combination with fresh goat cheese, cardamom, French marigold flower and a fresh tomato juice. It became one of my signature dishes which varies every year depending on what nature gives us.
Our motto: Simplicity is not simple!
Gert De Mangeleer, Hertog Jan (Zedelgem, Belgium)