Sep 9, 2009

What's All The Racket?

Belgium is known for its great restaurants and excellent cuisine. But what does the rest of the world know about Belgian cooking? Chambar Restaurant and Belgian Chef Nicolas Schuermans celebrate 5-years in Vancouver this month, and are hoping diners learn more about Belgian cuisine than chocolate and frites, though those things are quite good too.

Below is an interview I did with Chef Nico for Together Magazine last year. See the recent Globe and Mail article by clicking the link at the end of the interview. If you know of any other Belgian chefs in the world, send them my way!


Chef Nicolas Schuermans, “Nico” to his friends and family, studied at the prestigious CREPAC School of Culinary Arts in Belgium and apprenticed at La Villa Lorraine’(two Michelin stars), before working as at ‘Comme Chez Soi, (two Michelin stars). Schuermans has cooked for many celebrities as well as traveled the world working in prestigious kitchens.

Restaurant: Chambar Restaurant
Vancouver BC

KL: What is your fondest memory of Belgium?
NS: Spending summers at my grandparent’s home near Barvaux (Ardennes).

KL: Where do you like to eat when you visit?
NS: I make it home every other year to see family, and always eat at Le Passage (Uccle)
and the wood fired steak at L’Etable in Barvaux.

KL: Who in your life has influenced your cooking the most?
NS: My grandfather. He is a great appreciator of food and the ritual of dining:
an aperitif, a great dinner followed by cheese, and a glass of scotch. Chef Freddy Vandecasserie of La Villa Lorraine was the greatest influence over my professional career

KL: What’s the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you in your kitchen?
NS: Having a Flemish guest speak to me in the kitchen, and only nodding and smiling
because I had no idea what he was saying

KL: Which three cooking tools or gadgets are indispensable in your kitchen?
NS: Chef Knife, spice grinder, a service bell given to me by my grandmother

KL: Do you ever let others cook for you?
NS: Yes, of course. I am not fussy and love home cooking

KL: Does the name Chambar mean anything?
NS: My grandmother came up with the name - an old French phrase
Meaning 'racket' as in to make racket ( when the teacher leaves the room, all the kids go crazy!) In French it is spelt chambard and the ‘d’ is silent, but we took it out so people could pronounce it correctly

KL: What inspires your cooking today?
NS: My wife and I are lucky enough to travel every year to experience many new ethic flavours, and of course British Columbia’s fresh seasonal produce.

KL: Tell me something about you that would be a surprise to others. Do you have an oreo fetish or a captain crunch fixation we should know about?
NS: Nutella

KL: What advice would you give to someone dining at your restaurant for the first time?
NS: Be open-minded and without expectation. Leave your day at the door and enjoy the experience of brave food, great wine and a room with good energy

Globe and Mail Article

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