Het Gebaar (Antwerp)
Het Gebaar is the 1 Michelin star restaurant of Chef Roger van Damme. The restaurant is located in the centre of Antwerp and housed in the picturesque ‘Gingerbread House’ in the botanical garden.
* Pictures by Adriaan Van Looy
Het Gebaar is particularly known for its creative, labor-intensive desserts and sweet classics like pancakes, Crème Brûlée and Dame Blanche. There are no menu, but guests can choose between a selection of dishes and desserts à la carte instead. Usually one main course and one dessert are enough. The restaurant is only open for lunch, on reservation from Tuesday till Friday and without reservation on Saturday.
Chef Roger van Damme, who originates from Sluis in Holland, is not only a known Belgian TV-chef but a great restaurant manager/chef as well.. The chef has a natural and positive charisma and is extremely passionate about good food and sweet preparations.
Ever since he was a child, Roger has been fascinated by baking. His great grandfather was a baker and very soon it became clear to Roger that he wanted to be a patissier himself. After graduating at Ter Groene Poorte in Bruges, he opened Het Gebaar together with his wife Cindy in 1994. Bitten by the cooking-bug, Roger wanted to know more about trends and techniques in gastronomy and attended several trainings at El Bulli. It was here that he was introduced to co-owner and pastry chef Albert Adrià, who still is a good friend of the chef today. Roger Van Damme uses the experience he learnt in Spain in the art of pastry and received several prices with his remarkable and inventive cooking art. In 2009, one of his desserts was even elected as the greatest dessert in the world.
Besides cooking, Roger also hosts his own cooking show and acts in several other TV-programs in Belgium. The chef also published several cooking books, including a collaboration with his good friends Peter Goossens and Sergio Herman. Roger Van Damme is also actively engaged in the optimization of certain dishes for people with allergies or lactose problems.
Roger Van Damme still creates amazing dishes and desserts for his guests at Het Gebaar. One single dish incorporates as many preparations and techniques as a starter and main course from a classic restaurant together. The waiting time between the dishes is around 50min, which is very understandable when you see the detail and workload of each dish. The main courses are based on Belgian classics, prepared with the best products available, an impressive eye for detail, and a creative twist. The desserts are the main stars at Het Gebaar. Most of the desserts take more than a year to create and optimize, and they are executed with extreme precision. Each dessert incorporates ten to twenty mini preparations – which often could be a dessert on themselves.
We visited Het Gebaar in March 2015 and sampled different dishes:
“Steak-Tartare”, made with top quality beef, chopped by hand and seasoned à la minute. It is finished with a range of micro greens, a cream of goose liver and Roger’s famous traditional Belgian fries. Every element of the dish has to be perfect and the fries, for example, were perfected with the most modern techniques.
“Celebration 20”: to celebrate the 20th birthday of Het Gebaar, Roger created a dessert with his favorite flaours: raspberry, yoghurt, strawberry, basil, violet, cassis and milk chocolate.
The dessert “Black Jack”, is described on the menu as “A combination of speculoos (caramelized biscuit) and apple between edible playing cards (printed on two sides!), with a refreshing touch of lemon”. This incredible dessert is prepared with no less than 20 different other elements. The presentation and preparation demands utmost attention and an extreme eye for detail.
Van Damme(n): a combination of a mousse of milk chocolate, cream of burnt white chocolate, tangerine, apricot, pistachio and hazelnut.
Restaurant Het Gebaar is the place to experience some of the best desserts in the world. These works of art almost seem too good to eat – but especially the taste is something that has to be experienced. A remarkable experience.
Belgian Taste Buds:
– Food Buds 8.5/10
– Wine Pairing Buds 7.5/10
– Price/Quality Buds 7.5/10
– Service Buds 8/10
– Experience Buds 8.5/10
Phone +32 3 232 37 10
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