Showing guts during a Pandemic

Those who know me know.

I take food seriously: the way we prepare it, the way we eat it.

Whereas in real life I seek harmony and balance in relationships with friends, colleagues, family… once passed that kitchen door all seems fair and rules no longer apply. With great curiosity will I look at what others do, but rarely can I submit myself to really follow a recipe. I am a self declared poet cook: rules do not really apply in my kitchen.

So when we at Expat Centre Limburg came up with the idea to organise a cooking lesson for the End of Year Party, someone had to volunteer to go to the cook’s location to film the show. My colleague Bahar did not stand a chance, what she believed was helpfulness from my side was in reality a well packaged strategy. Even though she lived 10 steps away from the chosen caterer and I had to drive 35 minutes, there was no way I would allow her to step foot in that kitchen!

And so the story went: your reporter on site was picked!

Kristof and Maria, the founders of Atelier Eik

Showing guts during a pandemic

Success is never easy to achieve. One has to continue there where others stop. Push just that little bit harder, until it hurts. And not complain about the process.

December 2020: here we are, amidst a second Corona wave in Belgium; all horeca closed, the industry is flat-lining and home cooks are flourishing. In come a power duo:

Kristof Pouls and Maria Wang

With a CV that reads like a book on ‘how to become successful’ and a drive that is obvious in every little gesture, they are able to move continent, buy, strip and rebuild a property and open a catering business in a matter of a few months.

Opening day: 1 week prior to Christmas, or 2 days prior to our End of Year event.

With little sleep and rest, they welcomed us in and let us wander through the business as if we were home. Open. No salestalk. No efforts were made to convince me of their great new business.

Fast forward a few hours and the conclusion had to be made: these people do not require any salestalk, what they do and know is more than strong enough to win over a gourmet.

Limburg thanks you Maria and Kristof!

Kristof and Maria are expats here. Kristof, from Belgian origin, returned here after many years of cooking abroad in 5 star hotels. Maria's resume is equally impressive.

We are alike, me and him. I also returned home after many years of eating abroad, same thing, no?

He came home with a ring on his finger, married to a foreigner, and with a heritage line secured. So did I.

Twins? Not really.

Just take a look at what is being produced in that Herk-De-Stad kitchen to see where the similarities end. Though we could still make a great duo: one cooks, the other one eats?

What happened to Gourmet Limburg?

After returning home after years of experience eating out abroad, my disappointment was big. Why are the Chinese serving a lukewarm version of real Chinese food? Why do so many pizzeria’s copy paste American fast food giants thinking they invented the pizza? Where are the true colours of local regional food? seems to swim against that copy paste stream. A quick look at their offering promises good things.

How lucky were we to have them agree to teach us two recipes: Maria showed how to cook a real Pad Thai, Kristof made his own version of Christmas pancakes.

Both delicious!The comments from the participants did not lie: positive feedback all the way.

Expats in the Euregion Meuse Rhine

The host of the evening, our Aachener colleague Stephan Schäfer, made sure that the over-25 wanna-be cooks of the Euregion (the border region between Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany) were well entertained: live music and a hilarious kitchen towel

contest kept the spirits high. The contest winners received Belgian chocolate-goodness under the Christmas tree.

Sushi and mice

After a long search for quality sushi we now have found a place to feast. After the party we left with a goodie bag of sushi. It caused a war in the car driving home: the 9-year-old threatened to open the sushi whilst driving which caused the 15-year-old to threaten his life. A long drive later, we all agreed to eat one tray right away, and leave one for the next morning. I must have mice in the kitchen, as the second tray of sushi never saw the daylight.

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