Hertog jan

Zedelgem, on the night of Friday, 21 December 2018, at 1.34 am; for the very last time, Gert De Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens say good-bye to the guests of Hertog Jan***. The friends have worked side by side for fifteen years to reach the pinnacle of gastronomy. First in the form of a casual wine brasserie and later as a fine dining restaurant with close ties to nature.

Gert and Joachim have proudly displayed three Michelin stars on the façade of their renovated barn building ever since 2011, and they’ve also achieved an Olympic score of 19/20 with Gault & Millau. Driven by their clear and creative vision, Hertog Jan*** made it among the very select group of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and Gert received the ‘European Chef of the Year’ award in 2014.

In the course of their business partnership, Gert and Joachim haven’t just had a life of successes, great experiences and fantastic achievements. It hasn’t been a bed of roses and they have also endured just as many moments of exhaustion, disappointment and pain. Now in the next stage of their career, Gert and Joachim are focusing on developing their Hertog Jan*** Restaurant Group with the same energy, dedication and passion as in the past years. Their plan is to bring together new restaurant projects under the new structure to keep each other on their toes, while surprising their guests.

Gert & Joachim

Hertog Jan is the success story of two soulmates, who complement and mutually strengthen and inspire each other. As it turns out, Gert’s whimsical cuisine quickly found its perfect match in the extensive wine knowledge and hospitality skills mastered by Joachim Boudens (1980). As former students of Ter Groene Poorte hotel school, they became acquainted while both working for starred chef Danny Horseele.

Gert

Gert De Mangeleer’s (1977) earliest culinary memory is the rice pudding topped with brown sugar his mother used to make. Quite a revelation for a chef who has shaken up Belgian gastronomy by creatively combining lobster, cocoa and cherries. Such a contrast epitomises Gert’s attitude in his kitchen, where he successfully balances his respect for tradition with a healthy dose of curiosity. The fact that in the span of just five years – in the period from 2007 to 2012 – he achieved 3 Michelin stars, is proof of his innate flair.

His undeniable talent for mingling all kinds of ingredients and techniques has also earned him international status as a top chef. Drawing inspiration from his travels across Asia, he perfectly fuses new flavours and textures with local produce, vegetables and herbs from the Hertog Jan*** gardens. The tongs hooked over his apron bib’s are a constant reminder of his never-ending search for harmony.

If Hertog Jan owes its success story to Gert’s natural cooking style, his flawless sense of detail, his tight kitchen organisation and his complementarity with Joachim, it is Gert the man who makes the difference. How? By infusing all his culinary creations with emotions: “I put my heart and soul into my cooking in the hope that I will bring up memories and connect people with my dishes.”

Joachim

One year before the duo takes over Hertog Jan***, Joachim is voted Belgium’s First Sommelier in the 2004 Prosper Montagné contest, not coincidentally the same year Gert receives the ‘Gouden Garde’ culinary award from Knack Restaurantgids. The omens are favorable. While Gert is in the front line, cooking, Joachim’s holds the fort with his organisational talent: he deals with suppliers, liaises between the kitchen and dining room and inspires a new generation of skilled waiting staff.

As a sommelier, he attaches great importance to accessibility and originality. He likes to conjure up hidden treasures from unknown wine regions or surprise diners with craft beers, vermouth, sherry, madeira, sake, cocktails, infusions or syrups. “To a great extent, my suggestions will depend on the pairing with a dish, but also on parameters such as the season, the occasion or the company. When all these factors are aligned and guests can enjoy our dishes, wines and service in the ideal circumstances, only then do I consider their table experience to have been a success.”