Humus x Hortense's gastro-botanical cuisine goes beyond green gastronomy

Carla Vidal


Nicolas Decloedt & Caroline Baerten, chef and sommelier at Humus x Hortense* (Ixelles, Belgium), have described the elements that characterize their gastro-botanical cuisine with a high level of sustainable responsibility

Seasonality takes on a new meaning in the cuisine of this couple, who met seven years ago at a cooking school, and have turned their love of gastronomy into a restaurant that was voted the best vegan restaurant in the world in 2019 and, in addition to a Michelin star, has the green version of the French guide.

At Humus x Hortense* (Ixelles, Belgium), Nicolas and Caroline prepare their dishes using products supplied by their suppliers. This means that they do not speak of seasonal products, but of "hyper-temporality, as we are guided by the micro-seasons that mark the harvests and what they produce", explains Decloedt. This attention to the product derives from the concept with which they define their own cuisine, "which is more than green gastronomy, it is gastro-botanical", they assure us. It is a concept that has several peculiarities. For one thing, the restaurant only uses "vegan products to decarbonise the menu, no animal products", which is not a disadvantage for the chef, "as it helps us to develop our creativity". Likewise, the ingredients used are all local, from Belgian suppliers, and come from regenerative agricultural soils, "something that is really reflected in the taste of the vegetables, which is much more concentrated", says Nicolas Decloedt. Finally, the whole vegetable is used, "from the root to the leaf", a total use of the product which for them "is not an attitude but a state of mind", assures Caroline, who is in charge of the restaurant's liquid offer, also from the vegetable world.

An example of this total use of the product, as Baerten explains, is the use of asparagus, the tips of which are used in the kitchen, but "the most fibrous parts are macerated for three months and used in cocktails". And, if there are any leftovers, "they go into a compost". A complete cycle in service to the earth. A purpose that this couple sees as "part of the commitment of those of us who work in gastronomy". "We chefs can really make a difference", says Nicolas Decloedt, and proof of this is the Soilmates project created by Humus x Hortense "so that farmers, chefs, and artists can work together to be a loudspeaker for the land".

Both Nicolas and Caroline accompanied their words with different dishes in which the world of vegetables and aromatic herbs took the main stage. The chef served a dish based on a garum of dried mushrooms, while the sommelier served a cocktail based on lemon leaves and bergamot pulp soaked in gin.






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