The future is cooking (1/5): Benoit Dewitte on Damien Bouchery

As part of a food special in the November-December edition of the magazine, we turned to the country’s established chefs to pick tomorrow’s next big kitchen hero. Being a notoriously media-shy bunch, we got Pascal Devalkeneer, Nicolas Scheidt, Clement Petitjean, Julien Burlat, and Benoit Dewitt to give us their nominations. We start with Gent born Benoit Dewitte, chef and owner, with his brother Bernard, of the eponymous restaurant in Zingem. Benoit nominated Damien Boucher a French born, Brussels based chef who is “dreaming and travelling to explore the gastronomy world,” and runs award-winning restaurant Bouchéry in Brussels, with his partner Bénédicte.

How would you best describe what you do?

Everything starts with passion and attention for nature, we follow the seasons, we like picking and working with local producers. We offer an eight-course menu with five appetizers, three mignardises and some surprises… A lot is raw in the plates at Bouchery. This is mostly for the taste, but also to keep vitamins and other nutrients. Everything that comes out of the kitchen is prepared and crafted by us: bread, butter, and all cheese varieties. We may very well be the only ones to do it from milk to maturation.

As a chef cooking in Belgium today, what do you think is your main purpose?

First and foremost we want to give pleasure to our customers and share our passion with them. As a chef, I want to create new associations in terms of taste and texture, and try to make people more curious about what they have around them.

“Damien Bouchery stands out for the use of local produce and simple plating paired intense flavours such as his dish with carrot and hake.” Benoit Dewitte

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What key moment and/or person would you attribute to you becoming a chef?

When I was a kid, I loved (I still do) finishing the rest of the cream in the pan when my Mum prepared it. I also used to wait until she took the roasted chicken out of the pan to dip my piece of bread into it… I grew up in a farm, so I always ate good organic ingredients, and it surely had an impact on me.

To date, what concepts, meals or dishes are you the proudest of?

We organized with “Culinaria” and “La bouche” for a full day in the countryside. Customers started with a brunch outside with some nice drinks, they went hunting during the afternoon and later they had an aperitif and a three-course dinner in country house, near an open fire, candles, and without any electricity. It was a very special day for everyone!

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