Frenchman Damien (34) and Belgian Bénédicte (31) met three years ago while they were both working at Damien’s Bistrot du Mail, a restaurant for which he earned a legendary Michelin star. The prizewinning cook and the theatre graduate fell in love and it wasn’t long before they launched their own gastronomic gem. Bouchery, in the south of Brussels is known for a creative and high-quality menu filled with locally-sourced ingredients (as reviewed in our White album). We had a little chat with Damien and Bénédicte about the restaurant, about ants and cicadas, and about the strength of the binomial structure.
Why is two better than one?
Damien: In life you cannot do everything alone. And complementarity is a very important factor. I am very busy in the kitchen and Bénédicte brings the whole part of decoration, communication and people management into the equation.
Is one plus one always two?
Bénédicte: Actually the result here is more a unity. Especially from the outside perspective, in our case the outcome is one.
Do you ever have moments where you wish you worked?
D: No. Of course we fight sometimes but that’s part of it and it’s never hindered our ability to move forward.
What kind of things do you disagree on?
D: It’s mostly when we’re starting a new project, when it comes to money I’m quite stingy and Bénédicte is the opposite.
B: I’m the cicada and he’s the ant!
D: There are difficult moments sometimes but I’d never want to do this project without her. I’d actually never have started it without her. Managing a restaurant is so much work. I work 18 hours a day, even though there’s two of us.
If there’s so much work to be done, wouldn’t it be better to be three then?
D: No, I think it’s good how it is. And we’re not really alone, we have a team here that is very present.
B: Working as a threesome scares me a bit.
Why does it scare you?
B: I think something binomial is stronger then a trinomial structure. It’s just an intuitive thought. There might be two that get along really well and then the third one feels left out. With three there’s an energy that is more difficult to deal with.
Even though you have a partner, are there moments where you feel alone?
D: Yes, sure, especially at two in the morning when I finish the accounting.
B: And even though we work as a duo we have different tasks that we do separately. We don’t necessarily see each other that much, actually. But that’s nothing negative.
How were your lives before working in this partnership? How has it changed your life?
B: We had never been our own bosses before, so that’s something completely new. And regardless of whether you’re also a couple in private life or not, the binomial structure is a very strong one, that’s for sure. I can only recommend it.
Is everything 50/50?
B: That’s difficult to say. It’s not really quantifiable.
D: It’s completely 50/50 in the sense that it’s our common project. It doesn’t mean that we count everything and count up our working hours against each other.
B: No, we don’t count, but it definitely feels 50/50.Bouchéry, Chaussée d’Alsemberg 812A Alsembergsesteenweg -1180 Brussels