Here at olive we value local knowledge when it comes to our travel features, using the best food writers in the best food destinations to put together our guides. Many of these writers have great stories to share so, in this new occasional series of posts, we’re doing just that. Next up is Belgium expert, Frank Cops.
Frank is a hospitality consultant and the founder of Be-Gusto, an Antwerp based review site that also covers restaurants further afield in Belgium and beyond (Paris is a particular favourite). He started writing about food in 2012 having enjoyed a serious interest in cooking for more than a decade, and a passion for exploring restaurants that he wanted to document. Writing objectively, independently and personally, Be-Gusto offered a medium to save his experiences, meal notes and pictures but soon became a useful reference tool for other restaurant-goers.
Describe your approach
The chef, the interior, the atmosphere, the ingredients and the quality of food all have their part to play in whether I leave on a positive note and, while I tend to favour highly ranked restaurants, the challenge is in discovering places that are not yet well known.
My three favourite restaurants in Antwerp are…
1) InVincible because I have never eaten a disappointing dish there. The food is always honest, tasteful and seasonal and the chef uses quality ingredients (being seated at the bar, by the open kitchen, is fun).
2) Veranda for excellent food in a relaxed atmosphere. Chef Davy knows how to combine flavours and textures and impresses every time. The food is paired with an amazing natural wine selection by the country’s funkiest sommelier. I’m looking forward to visiting the restaurant again when it re-opens on a new site.
3) The Jane because the setting (a former military chapel, pictured top) is spectacular and the food exceeds every expectation. This is fine dining with a hint of rock ‘n’ roll, where dishes are cooked with the utmost precision. Upstairs is a bar with a laid-back atmosphere and great cocktails.
When I’m not blogging I’m…
Eating in a restaurant.
In my fridge there’s always…
Yoghurt, quality ham, wine, tomatoes and S. Pellegrino water.
My most-used cook book is…
BBQ, the outdoor cooking bible by Peter De Clercq. He shares recipes that anyone can cook on the barbecue and combines it with asides on fire herbs and special techniques. Smoked trout with potato salad, Tennesee ribs and grilled pineapple are some of the best recipes.
A food/travel trend I see sticking around or being the next big thing is…
A return to purer, more honest food. Product and terroir-based, not too fancy but with tasteful and intensely flavoured dishes.
My guilty pleasure food is…
A place I love that not many people know about is…
6 Zinnen in Hasselt. It’s a small and lovely place with an amazing vibe. Chef Jan always serves dishes with a soul and his wife Karoline is a lesson in how restaurant hosts should be – charming, professional, dynamic and with a real knowledge of gastronomy.
If you gave me a tenner I‘d spend it on…
A gourmet Dierendonck Burger at Ellis Gourmet Burgers.
Tweet tweet: @Be_gusto
Main image: photographer Piet Bon
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