Who is self-taught Viki Geunes, Belgium’s new three-star chef? – Culinary

In his restaurant on the top floor of the Antwerp MAS, Viki Geunes has literally cooked to the highest standard for years, and now he has also received a third Michelin star for it. He is on the same level as the regular Peter Goossens. Who is the man behind Belgium’s second three-star restaurant?

49-year-old Viki Geunes is no ordinary cook. For example, the man never took a cooking class, but he went to industrial sciences. However, when this diploma did not offer him the prospects he wanted, he decided to start over. At the age of twenty, the late bloomer started at the end of the ladder in the kitchen of the De Watermolen restaurant in Kasterlee. “I was a real late bloomer who at first couldn’t tell the difference between a plucked duck and a pigeon!” He said earlier to Knack Weekend journalist Pieter van Doveren. I bit my teeth and insisted because I had to and would catch up. So I was the only one who worked in the kitchen after the afternoon shift until after the evening shift. ‘

49-year-old Viki Geunes is no ordinary cook. For example, the man never took a cooking class, but he went to industrial sciences. However, when this diploma did not offer him the prospects he wanted, he decided to start over. At the age of twenty, the late bloomer started at the end of the ladder in the kitchen of the De Watermolen restaurant in Kasterlee. “I was a real late bloomer who at first couldn’t tell the difference between a plucked duck and a pigeon!” He said earlier to Knack Weekend journalist Pieter van Doveren. I bit my teeth and insisted because I had to and would catch up. So I was the only one who worked in the kitchen after the afternoon shift until after the evening shift. «His base was good, however. “My mother raised me with simple burger dishes like roasts and stews. I was the curious little boy who was allowed to ride in the pans next to his mother. Sometimes I was allowed to help with baking with my grandparents, who had a pastry shop for a long time. These experiences laid the foundation for a true passion. “After years of hard work and learning, he can start his own business. With his restaurant ‘t Zilte on Mol Riff Geunes two Michelin stars: the first in 2005 and the second two years later. The stars crown a high-quality product kitchen that is not afraid of luxury ingredients. Geunes repeatedly expresses his preference for things like yuzu, North Sea crabs, langoustines, artichokes, Eastern Scheldt, summer roe and scallops. “But a perfect potato can also be delicious.” In his kitchen, he focuses on purifying flavors and enhancing existing things. “It’s important to get more depth into everything.” When the entire team was moved to the ninth floor of the Antwerp Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS) in 2011, they didn’t have to start all over again. The location and the wide view perfectly match his idea of ​​a top restaurant: “For an optimal experience, everything has to be in balance: the style of cooking, the location, the wine, the service, the table, the chair on which you sit . ” He’s continued to work on that balance over the years, say the Michelin inspectors, which means the chef is now where he is. “In the past it sometimes fell into overly strong flavors that dominated the preparation, and today it has mastered that balance almost perfectly. Take the amazing lobster concoction we ate there this year. A product of exceptional quality, a creamy sauce in which the exotic sugar gives the tangy mango additional depth and dukkah for spicy flavor. Various carrot preparations added tension and texture. And then this perfect preparation of pigeons that we ate there, powerful and fine, with morels and an intense sauce. De-li-cieus! “Geunes was back in the news in 2013 when he decided not to open Zilte over the weekend. He made this decision not only to get a little more breathing space himself, but also to give it to his employees. “When young employees get older and partners and children come, they also want to be with their families on Saturdays,” he said. “If I allow that, I get better and more motivated employees. It will even benefit our business. «» Last year he literally turned the restaurant around so that his guests no longer had a view of the Scheldt but of the skyline of Antwerp. The man had big plans for 2020, including a rebranding and an entirely new dining experience. Lockdown after lockdown prevents full on-site tasting, but that chance will come. Have you gotten very curious about the food made by Viki Geunes? ‘t Zilte is currently closed – just like all other restaurants – but thanks to the temporary Best of Antwerp concept you can enjoy a delicious menu from the star kitchen. You can order online and pick it up at MAS in Antwerp.