L’air du Temps – ‘4-mains’ with André Chiang
L’air du temps is an exceptional 2 Michelin star restaurant in Walloon Brabant. Previously located in an inconspicuous building in Noville-sur-Mehaigne (visited in June 2012) the restaurant moved to a new location in Liernu in 2013 (visited in June 2013). It is now established in a renovated farm complex in the middle of the fields, which boasts a restaurant with an impressive kitchen and several dining compartments; a premise with an extra kitchen for cooking courses; a big, impressive greenhouse; a barn; and several luxury rooms for accommodation.
Sang-Hoon Degeimbre is considered as one of Belgium’s most creative and sophisticated chefs. Born in South Korea, Sang-Hoon migrated to Belgium at the age of four. He started his career as a sommelier, became a self-taught chef soon after and opened L’Air du Temps in 1997. He quickly earned worldwide recognition for his extremely creative, inventive, original and molecular cuisine. Together with his team (around 20 people) he created one of the most surprising gastronomical restaurants in Belgium. Sang-Hoon’s dishes are technically complex and evocative. Herbs, vegetables and Korean/Asian elements play an important role and most of the dishes incorporate special, unusual ingredients or flavors. For more information about Sang-Hoon’s cooking, please consult our previous reviews (2012 – 2013).
Since a few years Sang-hoon is also organizing regular ‘4-mains’ events. He already invited top chefs like Pascal Barbot, Quique Dacosta and Loïc Villemin and this year several unique events are on the agenda once more. We attended the most recent 4-mains with the Taiwanese chef Andre Chiang. André Chiang is the chef of Restaurant André in Singapore, the 5th best restaurant in Asia, according to San Pellegrino. André Chiang cooks according to his own ‘octa philosophy’ which is based on 8 elements: Unique, Texture, Memory, Pure, Local, Salt, South, Artisan. These elements are incorporated into menus with 8 snacks, 8 dishes and 8 sweet preparations. The basis of his cuisine is French, complemented with Asian, creative touches.
Sang-Hoon and André met each other about 6 years ago during the food festival Omnivore. Since then they have regular contact and after Sang-Hoon at at Andrés restaurant last year, he invited the chef for a 4-mains at L’Air du Temps. The two chefs both cook with Asian accents and their cooking styles are fairly close together. However, Sang-Hoon is clearly cooking something lighter and with more vegetables, while André often prefers fried preparations and somewhat fuller dishes. Together they created a unique dining experience with surprising flavors and diverse textures.
The experience consisted of 5 different appetizers, 9 courses, and 4 mignardises. The preparations were light but extremely flavorful, creating a coherent menu that certainly was not too heavy.
The menu of the night:
Water (with elderberries) / Bread
Oyster, pear, sour cream
Fish & Chips
The product imposed by San: Acacia, crab, pear
San’s signature dish: Blue Lobster, geranium
The product imposed by André: coal, squid
The product imposed by San: Sweet peas, foie gras, lemon
Dishes ‘4-mains’: vegetables between Asia and Belgium
André’s signature dish: Foie-gras, truffles
The product imposed by André: coal, matured Angus
Dessert by André: Red fruits
Dessert by San: Sorrel, fennel, lepidium
Verjuice, fir / Oxalys pie / Banana, parsley / Black Forest
The sommelier Maxim Demuynck was trained by Sang-hoon – who started his culinary career as a sommelier himself – and offers interesting wine as well as juice pairings. During this 4-mains Maxim presented an array of international wines that offered surprising combinations with the dishes.
The “Belgian Taste Buds” Experience
This 4-mains dinner was a memorable and surprising gastronomic event. The two Asian-rooted chefs demonstrate a cooking style that is creative, innovative, and daring. Sang-Hoon and André surprised the guests with dishes that showed a lot of synergies, but where the personal accents of both chefs still pretty emerged. The menu served was therefore nicely balanced, light but flavorful, and full of creative, surprising flavors. Some dishes, such as the aged Angus meat with sesame, or the sharp preparation of corn with horseradish, will appeal more to the experienced gourmets. However, one can feel that this type of cuisine is innovative cooking and that it is right here that gastronomy is moving.
Belgian Taste Buds:
– Food Buds 9/10
– Wine Pairing Buds 8/10
– Service Buds 8.5/10
– Experience Buds 9/10
L’air du Temps
Rue de la Croix Monet 2
Tel: 081.81.30.48 / Fax: 081.81.28.76
41 Bukit Pasoh Road
Tel.: +65 6534 8880