Gert de Mangeleer, together with his culinary partner, Joachim Boudens took over Hertog Jan in Belgium in 2005. In 2006, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin Star. Come 2009 and 2011, they welcomed their second and third star. Gert de Mangeleer graced the stage of the recently concluded Madrid Fusion Manila 2017 and without a doubt, wowed everyone in the audience. He took little time for introductions and went straight into demonstrating a stellar count of 9 dishes.
See also: 5 Chefs, 10 Hands
All nine dishes had a concrete story to tell. De Mangeleer’s approach to cuisine seems to be very conceptual yet passionate. When asked what he considered the starting point of a dish would be, he had this to say: “It can be anything I think –what is important is the architecture of the plate, the visual effect of it – a dish should really have to taste well and look well. [For another example] you are nothing with a beautiful woman who has nothing to say.”
His demonstration struck a note with people in the audience due to his quick action and artistic direction. Watching him cook was like watching an artist paint or a doctor perform surgery – a strange mix of artistry and clinical precision. For those who aspire to be a chef, he said this:
“The most important thing is to follow your dream. I was only 19 years old when I started to study cooking, I’ve never heard about fine dining. I wanted to have a blues bar, with good beer and meat on charcoal - my first internship was in a fine dining restaurant and I’ve never experienced something like that.”
“It’s important to feel good at home and feel healthy. It took 4.2 million euros to renovate the farm. We have been doing it for eleven years, and you have to be smart and creative with investment. Follow your heart but you have to find the balance again. Otherwise, you will have a kitchen without soul or heart. Our dishes have a lot of emotion in it. First start with the heart, then balance it along the way to be able to manage.”
Gert de Mangeleer proved to be not only an excellent chef, but moreover, an inspirational artist. Taking cuisine to the next level takes a lot of passion, however, de Mangeleer proves that this doesn’t have to be limited to the confines of the kitchen. One can achieve their dreams with persistence, creativity, and most of all, heart. Justly, simplicity isn’t all that simple.