Limburg’s Cuchara earns second Michelin star in new guide

Summary

While Hof van Cleve remains Belgium’s only three-star restaurant, one eatery has gone from one to two, and several more earned their first star

Seeing stars

Hof van Cleve in Kruishoutem, East Flanders, is still the only three-star restaurant in Belgium and Luxembourg, according to the new Michelin guide. The 2020 edition was released at a ceremony in Ghent this week.

This is the 15th year in a row that Hof van Cleve has been awarded three stars. “The most important thing to remember is that you don’t work for Michelin, you work for the customers,” said Goossens in response to the announcement. “We have to earn it every year. A restaurant is a team effort. The staff, both in the kitchen and the dining room, have to give everything they’ve got to make sure the customers leave with a big smile on their faces.”

Only one restaurant earned a second star this year. Cuchara in Lommel, Limburg, now boasts two Michelin stars. “Taste comes first in this restaurant,” according to the guide’s jury. “The chef’s creativity can be sampled in dishes whose intense, sometimes surprising, flavours reveal a judicious and talented choice of masterfully assembled ingredients. The chef is also a music and nature lover, as the predominantly wood interior quickly reveals.”

Chef Jan Tournier opened Cuchara 10 years ago in the house where he grew up. His contemporary dishes are peppered with Asian influences.

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And finally, five restaurants in Flanders earned their first Michelin star: L.E.S.S. (Bruges), Ogst (Hasselt), Sir Kwinten (Lennik), EssenCiel (Leuven), Souvenir (Ghent). It’s certainly been a good year for Sir Kwinten; earlier this month, the other prestigious food guide, Gault&Millau, named chef Glenn Verhasselt (pictured) the Young Chef of the Year.

In Brussels, two-star restaurant La Villa in the Sky lost a star, while La Canne en Ville in Elsene earned its first. “La Canne en Ville was a little neighbourhood restaurant,” said chef Kevin Lejeune. “I took a risk in taking it over, and it’s going well.”

In total, Flanders counts 13 two-star restaurants and Brussels five. Flanders has a whopping 63 one-star restaurants and Brussels 12.

The new guide “reflects the richness of the culinary scene in Belgium,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides. “In addition to the great diversity of types of cuisine, it is marked by a whole generation of chefs who, thanks to their creativity and talent, reach a subtle balance where respect for products and flavours stands central.”

Photos: The “masterfully assembled ingredients” of Cuchara (top ©Gault&Millau), chef Glenn Verhasselt of Sir Kwinten