Gert de Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens, who shocked the fine dining world when they decided to close their beloved restaurant Hertog Jan four years ago, are reuniting. The duo, who will convey their new experiences to the restaurant that brought them so much success, intend to make the new chapter of their story more impressive than ever with the new concept they prepared with the Omakase principle.
The restaurant, which will be open for only two weeks each month, will host its guests in a small and friendly environment, according to the Japanese principle of Omakase. Omakase in this form of meal, in which the guest completely surrenders to the chef’s art, roughly means “I leave it to you”, and the chef is given full authority to prepare whatever he thinks is appropriate at the moment.
Joachim Boudens said this decision was a brave and difficult choice. “In hospitality you want to please guests all the time but when you have a meal at this level it is more like going to an opera or a concert. I don’t want to sound pretentious but when you start to change the performance it creates a lot of pressure on the kitchen and also shifts the balance of a menu. There is a logic in the menu and that is lost whenever there are changes to it” he said.
Gert de Mangeleer is excited to return to their favorite place with a different concept, “This concept allows me to do things that I could not do before. Yesterday we were fully booked for a test dinner with 15 guests. In the old Hertog Jan we used to cater for 140 seats a day. In the new restaurant I can work on details that I could not work on before. Do certain things that we could never try. This is something that is really exciting to me.”
The 22-seat restaurant is located in the historic Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp hotel in Antwerp, Belgium. The hotel will open in November and the restaurant will open from next week. With the revival of Hertog Jan in Antwerp, two successful chefs are preparing to offer their longed-for flavors to their guests with a freer spirit than ever before.