Former Top Chef finalist, Florent Ladeyn defends committed, 100% local cuisine

In the heart of the Monts de Flandre and its winding roads, the village of Boeschèpe conceals a nugget. This haven of peace leaning against the Belgian border, 20 km from Comines, is home to the starred restaurant of a chef as charismatic in the kitchen as in the look. Revealed by the Top Chef show, Florent Ladeyn is the standard-bearer of locavore cuisine and committed to the Auberge du Vert Mont.

At the head of three other establishments, including two in Lille (Bierbuik and Bloempot-Bloemeke), the northerner breaks the codes of traditional gastronomy, with a know-how in connection with nature. Seven years ago, he took a 180 degree turn by adopting 100% local ingredients for the preparation of his dishes, anchored in the Flemish terroir of which he is so proud. A bold but winning bet as long as gourmets scramble to discover its culinary identity.

“Eating local, a political act”

Butter, flour, fruit, vegetables, meat… all the dishes sublimated by Florent Ladeyn and his team are produced in Boeschèpe and its neighboring lands. “Working 100% locally has always been a fantasy… which I realized in 2015. To be able to apply it, you had to have the capacity, the technical background, the workforce and a fairly dynamic terroir, which which was not the case before“, says the chef, who defends a cuisine with a low environmental footprint.Through this eco-responsible approach, my ambition is to reach people by showing them that it is possible to achieve this. We eat three times a day; it’s a political act that can change a lot of things, because it has a concrete and direct impact on the world in which we live. It may be utopian, but if more of us were to favor local craftsmen, the balance of power would be reversed. Marketing and mass distribution have dehumanized our agriculture. Society has lost all good consumer sense. Let’s stop buying so many products that have traveled thousands of kilometers to ultimately provide only 10 seconds of pleasure in the mouth. It should be a luxury.

A virtuous circle

Beyond the ecological aspect, the restaurateur is part of a virtuous circle by “being a year-round customer” of around twenty producers, from both Flanders (French and Belgian side). In this network is a snail farmer from Comines-Warneton. “Economically, it is essential to bring our countryside to life so that it does not become dormitories. There is also a social dimension, because we know who we are buying from, without intermediaries, at fair prices..”

Coffee, vanilla, chocolate, mango or avocado are banned from the tables of the talented French cook. “On some exotic products, but which are grown here and not on the other side of the world to end up on our plate. It’s the fleur de sel that comes from longer (Cap Gris-Nez). We also offer citron, a citrus fruit planted 7 km from here by one of our market gardeners, sea buckthorn berries, with request we make ketchup…“Very creative, Florent Ladeyn has however found alternatives:”In the restaurant, there is neither Coke nor orangeade. We offer our homemade sodas and other drinks obtained through infusions and the fermentation of products such as stale bread. We serve chicory instead of coffee. Vanilla, we replace it with sweet clover while for pies, we can move towards sunflower which, like almonds, is oleaginous. There is a way to have fun, without trying to substitute everything.

In the kitchen of the former Top Chef finalist, (almost) nothing goes to waste. The chef raises awareness around food waste, his other fight. “We reduce our waste as much as possible thanks, in particular, to vegetables without chemical products from permaculture, of which we can exploit all the parts. Cooked over a wood fire (also local!), the skin of the vegetables acts like a foil.”

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