Michaël Vrijmoed: Portrait of a chef
Chef Michal Vrijmoed, 38, can be described as a man belonging to a new generation of rebel chefs
Chef Michaël Vrijmoed, 38, can be described as a man belonging to a new generation of rebel chefs. His two Michelin-starred restaurant Vrijmoed, situated in the city of Ghent in Belgium, offers contemporary cuisine in his signature style. Eight months after its opening in 2013, the restaurant obtained its first Michelin star and in 2017, it received the Gault-Millau award for the best vegetarian menu in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Vrijmoed is where the chef creates dishes that evoke “taste memories", and are based on his own thoughts and experiences in active collaboration with his guests. Here, there are no distinctions between the so-called noble and humble everyday ingredients. Vrijmoed encourages his team to prepare delicious food with product residues, so that as little as possible is wasted. It is Vrijmoed’s focus on natural products and their essential flavours that has led to his rather radical signature dish, a spinach and white chocolate dessert.
How I arrived at my signature dish
For me, the most important value of a good dish is taste in combination with a contrast in textures, temperature and a balance of acidity and sweetness, bitterness and salt. A lot of people ask me before they eat this dish as to why would you create a dessert with spinach? There’s only one answer, “why would you not do it?" The combination of the foam of apple, crème of white chocolate and frozen grated spinach with matcha tea turn it into something that would create an explosion in the mouth.
The best meal you have ever eaten
I still remember the first time that I ate in a Japanese restaurant 20 years ago. The purity, the umami and the complexity in its simplicity of that meal opened my eyes to not being conservative in the kitchen.
The next big food trend is…
Belgian gastronomy. Another future food trend will be a kitchen of pure products.
Your favourite ingredient to work with
Apple, I love it’s taste and texture.
Most adventurous thing you’ve eaten
When I was in the Philippines, I ate balut, an egg with a cooked embryo…it was “special".
Most underrated culinary destination
What’s your comfort food
Sliced ripe tomatoes with olive oil, tarragon-vinegar, salt flakes and fresh tarragon.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a chef?
The happiness of our customers at the end of their meal in my restaurant.
Your dream dinner guest
Pascal Barbot, the chef of restaurant l’Astrance in Paris.
This is the first of photographer Rohit Chawla’s special series on celebrated chefs from around the world.