Whoever only had the right to replace the ashtrays on the tables, now runs the rose garden, the hotel-restaurant her father founded forty years ago in the province of Liège. Marie Triignon has decided to reach the heights: contemporary menu, state-of-the-art establishment and new shelters in the untouched nature of Modave.
“The rose garden was waiting for him.” Vincent Trinon looks both proud and tender on his daughter Marie. It took him 35 years of patience to witness the return of his only daughter to the environment he has protected for 40 years. The first thing that surprises you when you look at La Roseraie is the discretion with which this institution of fine dining has quietly passed through time. Then comes the discovery of the place, a small stone mansion built in 1875 by a quarry master. This man must have had a passion for botany and more particularly roses: in the middle of the park is a beautiful greenhouse that has just been renovated, the ironwork has been painted black and gives it a reasonable modernity. But the surprise is at the edge of the forest where two astonishing glass structures have grown, which with their disproportionately slender roof are reminiscent of elves with pointed hats. Marie Triignon and her husband, Daniel Whymark, gave them the name of shelters, shelter in English. The latter is indeed British and it was in Cambridge that the couple met, while Marie perfected her job as a translator (English and Russian). In 2015, the couple seized the opportunity offered to them to acquire the six hectares of forest on the north side of the Roseraie Park, in order to give the site an exceptional environment. Today they have been converted and invite you to stroll to the nearby oppidum. This first century BC Roman camp is located on a rocky plateau overlooking the hamlet of Pont-de-Bonne. J.-C. is located on the old road that connected Tongeren with Arlon. We are in the commune of Modave, in the valley of the Hoyoux and its tributaries (including the Bonne), an area that gets part of its wealth from water. The Modave catchment area supplies up to 80,000 m3 of drinking water per day to the city of Brussels.
“We are surrounded by pearls”, Marie Triignon laughs. Marie was born and raised in this universe. Madeleine, her mother, remembers her daughter’s first steps in the restaurant. “Nothing very glorious… We had explained to him how to change the ashtrays at the table. It was when we still smoked in the dining room.”
The Dorchester Kitchens
His studies took him to Britain, Cambridge and London, but it was in Woking that the couple settled. Their twins, Éva and Nora, spent their early years there. “I loved this village side. I could never be idle. As a young mother, I organized snacks when I left the nursery. I made pancakes, waffles, scones…”
Long before that, Marie had worked in London for an events agency responsible for organizing and supervising all government events, when Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were at 10 Downing Street. She then moved to Guildford for three years, where she worked for the design store of the Danish label Bo-Concept, as she also has a passion for interior design and furniture, making her a regular visitor to the Parisian salon Maison & Objet.
But the cry of her roots is the strongest, especially because she was always there when it was necessary to lend her parents a hand. “Marie took the Eurostar on Friday evening and left Monday morning,” her father said. The transfer happened when she decided to study for this profession: she enrolled in a one-year course in Woking, in the oldest private cooking school in Great Britain that gives a diploma certified by the famous Cordon Bleu. , the Aunt Marie Culinary Academy . She will work in several restaurants, including one with a Michelin star. But it doesn’t stop there… “It was one evening. When he comes home from work by train, Daniel reads the Evening Standard and discovers that this newspaper is organizing a competition whose prize is a visit to the kitchens of the Dorchester Enthusiastic, he decides to join right away and that’s how we got closer to the secrets of the three-star Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester.” There Marie meets Jean-Philippe Blondet, the chef who expresses the culinary values of a great French chef. The current flows between the two and the interview ends with an invitation to send him his resume.
Some of the most rewarding 8 months of his life will follow. “First of all, we are in a world of organization and the search for perfection. Just to give an example, two chefs provided the vegetables for the starters and two others provided the vegetables for the dishes. The chef was aware of my wish to take over from my father He was kind enough to show me around the kitchen, taking turns in the different functions I received an exceptional education When I started at La Roseraie I still asked him questions. ” Marie will make another discovery there, much more important. “In fact, I had tortured my father without realizing what his cooking was like. At the Dorchester, what I was taught was similar to what he still does. I’m thinking about cooking techniques, sauces.’
When her daughters returned to school in September 2017, Marie Triignon joined the kitchens of the Roseraie for good. During the first months, the two generations clash. Daughter and father have yet to orient themselves, but five years later he sees his role in supporting his daughter, who has set the tone for a modern kitchen of produce.
A question must be raised at this point. Why has there been so little talk about La Roseraie and his boss until now? However, the restaurant is regularly full. It’s like discovering a sleeping beauty, like in fairy tales, with the hiding places in the role of fairies. “From the beginning, we had this project to increase our accommodation capacity and build six individual units. After acquiring the wood, the integration of guest houses on the edge of the forest became clear, but we should not fall into the cliché of the cabins.”
The project by Maxime Faniel, a young architect from the Liège bureau Laboratoire, was daring, but totally thought out. For example, the small metal stilts that support the whole also have technical functions: through them the various power supplies and outputs enter. “These are wooden structures clad in a profiled printed glass shell, known as ‘U-Glas’, made in Germany by Saint-Gobain,” explains Daniel. “Their presence on the site may indicate aliens sheltering you overnight. And you wake up in the middle of the forest.” Everything here is taken care of down to the last detail. Inside, the walnut structure housing the bathroom reproduces the same shapes as the exterior architecture. The bedding is from Sleepeezee’s Royal Warrant,” the same as Buckingham Palace’s,” laughs Daniel Whymark. The first two shelters, completed in December 2021, are not the only modernity brought to the August mansion. “For three years we didn’t change anything, and then came the spring of 2020 and the first lockdown that allowed us to take advantage of the closure of the establishment. In six weeks of work – record time! – the kitchen, reception, dining room and the three large bedrooms on the first floor have been transformed.The kitchen has also been completely reorganised, integrating modern appliances into the existing stoves – Thermomix or Pacojet coexist with the shiny copper battery.”
Palette of flavors
There remains the essential, namely the “father and daughter” kitchen, it entrusts with a modesty imbued with pride: “Today I am the student. Marie brought her sense of organization. I was often criticized for the too slow service, and this Today, the guest at the table gets the first four appetizers, followed by two others to end with a seventh, namely double lobster consommé in crust, my nod to what Paul Bocuse had envisioned for French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.
Marie continues: “The base of the consommé is papa. I just added a little crunch to it with a mirepoix of sautéed vegetables.” It would be pointless to list Marie’s menus as she changes them from A to Z every two months to best follow the seasons and product availability. Each dish is a nice walk to look at. Marie likes to start from linearity and offers a surprise that is always imbued with freshness. During her stay at the Dorchester she borrowed, among other things, the infusions in oil of aromatic herbs or spices that, on the plate, slip into the palette of flavors. Detail not to be overlooked, it will be apparent, everything is prepared in house from sourdough bread to vanilla ice cream made on site.
All this comes at the cost of the diligent work and unrelenting energy of this former classical ballet dancer turned translator and top chef. On opening days, Marie leaves the kitchen at 3am to get up at 6am and be in time for breakfast. Like the other gastronomic moments in La Roseraie, this one is infinitely refined, inspired by breakfasts across the Channel. We remember the typical cake display of afternoon tea, each of the three floors of which offers a moment of pure happiness: cakes with such a fine dough, small sandwiches with sandwich bread and, as icing on the cake, mini scones. No, gluttony is not a bad mistake.
La Roseraie, 80 Route de Limet at 4577 Modave.