Innovation on the menu at Antwerp food festival


The 11th edition of Antwerpen Proeft mixes Michelin-starred chefs, gourmet fast food and a new programme that’s just for kids

On food and drink in Flanders

After a record-breaking 10th anniversary edition last year, leading food festival Antwerpen Proeft (Taste Antwerp) returns for the long weekend with a bumper crop of gourmet goodies.

Spilling out from host venue Waagnatie on to the banks of the Scheldt, the four-day culinary extravaganza invites visitors to attend free demos and workshops and taste discount dishes by star chefs from home and abroad.

Chef Nick Bril (pictured) of celebrated two-star Antwerp eatery The Jane will join Giovanni Bruno of Brussels’ Senzanome on the AEG Taste stage, while Duvel’s pavilion will honour hip new Antwerp BBQ joint Black Smoke and The Butcher’s Son, newly installed in the city’s De Koninck brewery.

Signature dishes from Bozar Brasserie and Colette in Westerlo, which won its first star this year, will grace super-foodie Luc Hoornaert’s booth, and more than 40 stands will groan with olive oil, artisanal jam and Beaujolais wine.

There are several innovations this year. By popular demand, a Young Foodies theme will offer free workshops to under-15s. A dedicated kids’ zone will include a play area and babysitting services for a nominal fee.

“Another thing that’s new is a focus on the gourmet fast food trend,” says festival organiser Ward Ramaeckers. “It’s top chefs using creativity and prime ingredients to take fast food to the highest possible level.” 

Gourmet cook-off

In this vein, as well an armada of food trucks, Michelin-starred chefs David Martin (La Paix, Brussels) and Peter Gast (‘t Schulten Hues, Holland) will be tackling cheese croquettes and bitterballen respectively. “It’s Belgium versus Holland in gourmet fast food,” Ramaeckers says.

Chiming with the huge popularity of cookbooks in Belgium, publisher Lannoo will host the festival’s first book fair, with signings from authors like Sandra Bekkari, of the Nooit meer diëten (No More Diets) series.

On Sunday, the Antwerpen Proeft podium hosts the stars of Flemish reality TV series Mijn Pop-Up Restaurant, with 2016 winners Chloe and Magali Szpyt, juror Sepideh Sedaghatnia, and eccentric duo Kristof and Stefan Boxy.

Entry is €7 (€9 on the door) and signature dishes – even those by the top chefs – are mostly €5 or €7.50. “You get a free drink with your ticket and then you are free to follow your tastebuds,” says Ramaeckers. “You can eat dessert all day long, drink beer all day long, or just watch demonstrations. It’s totally up to you.”

28 April-1 May, Waagnatie, Antwerp

Photo courtesy Antwerpen Proeft