French fries are the Belgian national dish par excellence. Yet non-Belgians also do their thing with it. For example, the Zeeland-Flemish culinary legend Sergio Herman opened a new Frites Atelier in Brussels, a cross between gastronomy and the traditional Belgian dish. At the beginning of March.
Frites Atelier – the fries concept of Dutch star chef Sergio Hermans – opened its doors in Brussels. Frites Atelier previously settled in the Dutch cities of The Hague, Utrecht and Arnhem and then came to Antwerp and Ghent. A Dutch chef who prepares a typical Belgian dish: it is a daring choice. Certainly because Herman is much less well-known in Brussels than in Flanders.
The Dutch cook has left his mark on our Belgian cuisine for several years. The threshold to open restaurants in Flanders – and by extension also French fries – was a lot lower in that case. But the situation in the Belgian capital is slightly different. Brussels is a multilingual city – with French (and Arabic) as the dominant languages and is located in the center of Europe. The city is a focal point of European and international politics and attracts masses of tourists and expats. Sergio Herman’s French is basic to express it. The Zeeland is virtually unknown in Brussels. Trying to get an authentic Belgian dish here seems like Dutch pride. “That indeed seems so,” he says. “But I didn’t make that choice impulsively.”
My heart is in Belgium
“My heart is more in Belgium than in the Netherlands,” he says. “It took some getting used to when I opened my first chain in Antwerp, but in the end I left my mark on Flanders.” Herman grew up in Sluis in Zeeland, a few kilometers from the Belgian border. His parents had the restaurant Oud Sluis there. He studied at the hotel school in Bruges and regularly crossed the border to eat with his parents. Soon the chef became a fixture in the Flemish culinary landscape and in numerous culinary TV programs.
For his new Frites Atelier, Sergio Herman consciously chose a location in the heart of Brussels. “I like that mix of cafés, restaurants and tourist attractions,” he says. “I buy the fish from my neighbor, I get my meat from the butcher around the corner. I work closely with local traders. Fresh products are very important. I have been living in Belgium for 15 years. My heart is more in Belgium than the Netherlands. I sincerely feel more Belgian than Dutch, unless the Dutch play football ”.