The future is cooking (2/5): Julien Burlat nominates Magalie Verbaet

In part two of our food nominations, established chef Julien Burlat – owner and chef of Dome in Antwerp – nominates Magalie Verbaet (1981) who graduated form Koksijde Cooking School in 2005. She was born in Antwerp and grew up in Hove, a small town close to Antwerp.

How would you best describe what you do?

As a chef and restaurant owner it is important to tell a complete story. This means the main focus is on the products we use, from ingredients to the drinks and wines – everything has to come out as pure as possible. The recipes we create are in dialogue with these products, giving importance to presenting essential natural flavours and keeping it as direct as possible, this all with respect for the seasons.

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

My main purpose is to evolve and improve my personal style, this is more difficult than one may think and is mainly developed by staying focused. I like to work with vegetables, so this means trying to present them as interesting as possible without neglecting fish or meat, and bring people food that is rich in taste but doesn’t leave people a heavy feeling.

“Magali Verbaet has a certain vision and culinary precision. Most important, she doesn’t follow any trends.” Julien Burlat

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What key moments or people would you attribute to becoming a chef?

Going to the first Omnivore Food Festival at Le Havre (2005) truly inspired me – the whole atmosphere and performances are very special. At this first edition there were only two Belgian chefs in the crowd, Julien Burlat and Julien Bobichon (both French of course). It is amazing that they were going to have a large influence on me, because years later I worked closely with them both – Julien Bobichon at Döme Sur Mer in Antwerp, and Julien Burlat at Dôme. Opening my own restaurant and seeing how it evolves, especially creating a network of fantastic producers in my region, or in Belgium, something you cannot entirely control but need to strive for constantly – these people allow me to improve and learn more.

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

One of my personal favourites is a really simple one – plaice with eucalyptus butter, haricots and a black sesame crumble.

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