Omakase is a Japanese phrase for I will leave it to you. It’s also Japanese for a culinary curated creative experience. At Chambre Séparée there’s no menus, just 20 courses, and each is served with a delectable element of surprise.
Few Belgian chefs have garnered as much international notoriety as Kobe Desramaults, so I was happy to chat with him about what liberates him at his latest Michelin-Starred venture, why Ghent is the perfect place to create as a chef, and his favorite Flemish comfort food to enjoy in his off-time.
You can find Kobe and his team nestled in an unlikely spot. On the ground floor of what some call the ugly Belgacom building, they’re cooking up inventive courses for just 16 covers at a time. In around two years, the building will be renovated and Chambre Séparée closed – a fact that attracted him to take on the project with an end in sight.
[The time frame] is very liberating because we have a team that’s very devoted, many of them from In De Wulf, who are ready to push the boundaries every day. We can see the finish line ahead.
Is Ghent is any more receptive to your cuisine than other cities in Belgium would be? “For the last couple years, Ghent has become very liberated in how chefs create businesses, and how they cook, and how people react to it.” He goes on to say:
Ghent is super open-minded, it’s a nice hub for creative people. It feels more like a metropolitan village full of progressive things going on, but in a small town. It allows people to get the chance to interact. If this were Brussels, you’d have to travel to different neighborhoods to get the same feeling.
What do you bring to the table at Chambre Séparée that’s refreshing the dining experience in general? The element of surprise makes the menu – or lack thereof – intriguing and exciting. We stick to seasonal, organic, local produce, and the way of eating here puts the kitchen center stage with two dynamic hours of small courses. You need to be focused as a guest here because it’s a full sensory experience and it’s all about the food.
He calls the menu “very produce driven, very seasonal, minimalistic”.
“Our guests are inside the kitchen with us, seeing all the action as we’re working with fire, working with the basics to create a refined experience.”
Kobe infuses personal nostalgia into the food he cooks both in and out of the kitchen. “I always encourage traditional Flemish style food, vol-au-vente, things like that. It all depends on the season, but traditional family style meals are always good.” As for his favorite dish?
“It all depends on the season…In winter I love the typical dish that all moms and grandmas make: endive and ham gratin.”
Now that Spring is basically here, we talked about terrace dining and what could be next for him and his team. Kobe’s not one to get complacent in the projects he takes on, so of course there are other food plans in the oven. He hinted at a delicious pizza pop-up this summer coming just next door. Bring on the sun, and let’s hope for more from Kobe.