After the first Undisclosed Dinner Edition, I just had to try the chefs’ own particular cuisine, one by one… I decided to start with Jacques-Olivier Charles’ Delicatessen. And what better occasion than Sara’s visit to Brussels! We gals don’t see each other nearly as often as we’d like, so we wanted to go somewhere special.
To make a long story short, let’s use the A-word: Awesome. Oh, want more details, you curious little you? Well, let’s start with the food. We both had the 35€ menu, which consists of a starter, a main and dessert. There is another menu at 45€ and you can also order à la carte. While waiting for our starters, we had some delicious amuse-bouche brought to the table. Greek marinated olives, pumpkin-chorizo cream soup, turnip mousse, galangal, duck filet carpaccio with Italian beetroot. More, please?
This yummy prelude made us eager for more. Sara had the crispy shrimps for starters, a tender piece of beef as the main dish, and chocolate fondant with truffle crème anglaise. I had the foie gras 54° with chestnut, beetroot and gingerbread as starter, the grilled ray with risotto, chicory and beer as main and to finish, poached pear with caramel and nut shortbread. Honestly? That’s what we call value for money. You can rarely eat such refined, delicate, delicious food for 35€. Impressed. And just when we thought it couldn’t get better, Jacques joined us for some après-pudding chat.
Jacques is a young chef with an already impressive carreer. One of the lucky few who hit the vocational jackpot and started out his professional life right where he belonged. His talents didn’t go unnoticed and already at 25 he received a Bib Gourmand, while he was chef at Switch. Despite all his success and his food-feats, his ego hasn’t gained one pound. He stays a humble man who sees himself as an artisan working with his hands. To him, the kitchen is a team. Hierarchy, yes. Concentration, yes. But no bullying. Too much pressure kills the pleasure. Like a bad chocolate soufflé (Okay, I just made that up, I have no clue how to make a soufflé).
It was a real pleasure to sit and listen to him telling us about his journey, his views on Brussels and even his worst episodes in the kitchen. We got to hear stories filled with true passion which is rare, in a world filled with bored clerks and pay-the-bills jobs.
All in all, an incredible discovery, both in culinary terms and at the human level. Jacques, we thank you for that lovely evening. Back very soon!
Anita & Sara
Delicatessen Restaurant – 17-19 rue sainte catherine, 1000 Brussels – T: +32 23 24 78 79 Open: Wed-Sat from 7 to 11 pm.