by Charlotte Vanbever
From 12 to 15 May, the Tour&Taxis site in Brussels is organizing a new culinary and festive event: the Streat Fest, a contraction of “street” and “eat”. Either eating, but (very well), on the street… or almost. For the occasion, Max brought together three Belgian chefs, originally – a Carolo, a Brussels native born in Bhutan and an Antwerper – and with completely different backgrounds, but with a vision of cooking that is resolutely focused on pleasure. Sitting or not…
“This festival, and street food, is a way to celebrate life, especially after two years of pandemic”delights Lhamo Svaluto, owner of Tibetan restaurant Mo Mo. The famous Carolo chef Stéphane Chermanne, whose restaurant bears the name, laughs: “It’s nice that they already thought of me! Since I don’t like street food, I run a bistronomic restaurant and they contacted me to see what I could bring here. The challenge is super cool, because it’s not something I am used to doing it can be a headache for me to make a street food dish”† Unlike Glen Ramaekers, head chef at the Humphrey, who is used to showing off his exotic cuisine at various events. “In our restaurant, we make many dishes to share with my wife. In what we do we represent the Filipino cuisine, my mother is Filipino, and we move a lot.† Installed in the building of the music label Pias, in the heart of Brussels, long before the pandemic, chef Glen encountered another obstacle to taste his cuisine: the attacks in Brussels. “We opened right after that. People then avoided coming to Brussels. We understood that we had to move, that the period was difficult and that we could not be satisfied with having a restaurant. We did festivals, we represented Belgium beyond our borders. We went abroad to promote Brussels, but why not do it at home? In Flanders, food festivals exist in several major cities, with starred restaurants. What’s great here is to have a festival that’s a bit more fun, younger and most importantly multicultural, like Brussels and Belgium in general. I don’t think we’re proud enough to bring that up!”
Photo credit: Xavier Janssens
For once, with you three, we are confronted with three cuisines from completely different cultures…
Stephen: I like to put my men to work once and taste the whole festival, to see what the other restaurateurs have to offer…
Lhamo: It’s not a compartmentalized world, it’s not just chefs and stars. I don’t consider myself a cook. I feel like a cheater…
But what is it like to be a true leader?
Stephen: Being a true chef is the joy of pleasing others and mastering what you do.
Lhamo: I love this definition! What I do is very mono-product, completely in the spirit of street food, parties and festivals. We still have the ready-made idea of unrefined street food, of poor quality. Here, however, the challenge is to do something more sophisticated, but in street food.
With street food you dare more, you have more freedom than in a restaurant
To what extent has the concept of the restaurant in the broad sense of the word changed over the past ten years?
Stephen: The clientele has evolved and the codes have changed a bit. Twenty years ago, restaurants were for business people during the week and for families at the weekend. Today, in a couple where both people work, we go during the week to “have a little dinner”. It’s no longer about making long gourmet meals. People go out more often and want to find a reasonably varied offer. There are many people who no longer cook at home and do not have the means to eat gastro every day.
Are people also more open to taste other flavors from elsewhere?
Lhamo: I note that the palate of the clientele has broadened. A few years ago, the slightly spicy dishes were experienced as very spicy. Now people generally say they love it.
Stephen: It is also reflected in the wines. There are wines from certain regions that 20 years ago I didn’t know how to drink and today those are the ones I prefer. The palace changes. Street food is also a very young thing and it’s good that these young people are getting a taste of it, because later they will be our customers in restaurants.
glen: You also dare a little more in street food, you can give yourself a little more freedom. In a restaurant you pay more attention…
Stephen: Yes, we need to be a little united, on the leash.
The palate widens but at the same time there are dishes that we no longer eat…
Stephen: All the way. We used to eat more offal, twenty years ago our parents and grandparents often ate it. Was there any dislike?