‘Simplicity is not simple’ according to Hertog Jan’s head Chef Gert De Mangeleer

ARTICLE / 28 NOV 2015 / BY DIMITRIS PANAGIOTIDIS

Hertog Jan
Restaurant Hertog Jan.
HERTOG JAN. Loppemsestraat 52 8210 Zedelgem, Belgium / hertog-jan.com

Gert De Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens have achieved a true first in the world of gastronomy. With an extremely young 25-strong team – with an average age of 22 – they have achieved 3 Michelin stars in just 5 years (1* in the 2007 guide, 2** in the 2010 guide, 3*** in the 2012 guide). This makes them the youngest 3-star team in the world. In 2012, they scored 18.5/50 in the GaultMillau guide. In 2013 Gert De Mangeleer has been elected best chef in Europe at the Madrid Fusion fair, chosen by the European gastronomic press.

Restaurant Hertog Jan opened in 1992. It was originally a wine bar/restaurant for business people during the week and a child-friendly family brasserie at the weekend. The globally inspired wine list represented the vision behind the concept. In 2003, the business was converted into a fine dining restaurant with the unique attraction of the construction of the kitchen in a glass building adjoining the restaurant, in which the latest appliances were installed. On 1 July 2005, Gert De Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens took over the business, with a team of 4 staff. In no time at all they climbed to the summit of gastronomy and were showered with awards and praise. In 2010, the duo bought a historic farm in Zedelgem. This historicly classified monumlent has now been converted and restored. The current restaurant is open since July 18th. It can host up to 100 guests.

Hertog Jan
The art of plating by Gert De Mangeleer.

Gert’s cuisine is closely tied to Flanders and the sublime local ingredients we have to offer. For the last five years, he has even been growing his own local vegetables, herbs and flowers at the farm in Zedelgem. Under the slogan ‘Simplicity is not simple’, he constantly seeks pure ingredients of the highest quality, using every available technique, but avoiding the flashiest trends. His unique culinary style is now receiving recognition in all five continents. While, Joachim Boudens has already been named best sommelier in the country twice over (once by professionals and once by consumers). He also favours the use of our fantastic Belgian beers in gastronomy. His knowledge of the harmony between wines/beers and Gert’s unique dishes is unparalleled. Joachim is also known as ‘the perfect gentleman’. As maître d’ of the restaurant, he has surrounded himself with a group of highly specialised individuals, each making their own contribution to achieving absolute perfection in the area of hospitality.

HERTOG_JAN_restaurant_01
Portrait photo of Gert De Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens.

“With the greatest respect for the environment, ensuring that they burden it as little as possible, Gert and Joachim have adopted a nature-friendly approach. They draw their water from their own land and recycle as much as possible.”

Respect is a word that has been central to this duo’s business philosophy from day one. There are many stakeholders in this respect. Respect for one another as professional colleagues but also as close friends. They radiate this to their staff, so that the extremely young, now 34-strong team works together like a family. Respect for ingredients and their preparation has become the signature of their menu and wine list. This is emphasised by their buying their own farm and growing as many of their own vegetables, herbs and edible flowers as possible. Respect for the guests, with Gert making allowance for all kinds of allergies and food preferences and Joachim and his service team pampering guests in a disarming way. Respect for historical heritage: “The choice of a listed farmhouse was totally deliberate”, says Joachim. “Gert wanted to work as close as possible to nature. This nod to our historical past underlines our respect for our own roots. When we aim for something, it all has to work”. This approach is followed throughout the construction of their new restaurant. With the greatest respect for the environment, ensuring that they burden it as little as possible, Gert and Joachim have adopted a nature-friendly approach. They draw their water from their own land and recycle as much as possible. Rainwater is collected in two ways and recycled for the washrooms and watering the crops, while organic waste is collected and fermented to produce energy.