« Life begins the day when we start a garden. » – Chinese proverb
(see pictures down this page)
The Chalet de la Forêt will be enriched with an environmental and natural vegetable garden. It is a hedonistic and purist approach along the lines of the cuisine that its chef, Pascal Devalkeneer, creates.
By opting to create a structured vegetable garden, Pascal is pushing his quest for beautiful and good things further and further. He has chosen to give more pride of place to the taste and beauty of fresh products from the earth when they are cultivated and to associate aesthetics with a real haven of peace.
This is a gift that he gave himself, he says. It is an old dream that he has kept toying with since the time when he cut his teeth alongside Roger Souvereyns and picked herbs in his vegetable garden every morning at 8am. He stuck his nose into the bouquets of herbs that were still damp with dew and laid himself open to a whole world of aromas and sensations that then served as an inspiration for him to cook. Roger and others have always tried to dissuade him by arguing that this was an endless investment. And in the end, the desire was still there, stronger than ever, to plant 1,156m² of poetry.
Today, the sprouting of vegetables constantly upsets the design of the vegetable garden. For the chef, the vegetable garden needed to combine aesthetics and eco-responsibility and needed a combination of market gardening experts, experienced entrepreneurs and the inventiveness of Erik Dhondt, the architect of the garden, to create this magnificent garden of flavours from all its parts.
Together they mixed styles, the English-style flowerbeds of herbaceous plants organised by colour and the division of space into plots in the style of French gardens. The varieties planted have been carefully selected in order to create a vegetable garden that regulates itself naturally. Guest can enjoy the transition from one season to another, changes in colours and flowering on the undulations of land that is sown with aromatic plants (both perfumed and delicate), the unstructured beauty of wild flowers, crazy herbs and other ‘weeds’ that will enhance the flavours of the Chalet de la Forêt menu with panache as well as the speciality salads such as lamb’s salad, watercress and spinach.
Surrounding the plots of vegetable gardens, trees with local rustic varieties such as plum trees, mirabelle plum trees and apple trees together recreate the natural Belgian habitat and give this project an educational dimension and a heritage dimension.
The presence of a fountain, produced by a blacksmith, and intended for watering the crops, adds to the poetry of the whole picture by welcoming the visitor with the lapping sound of water.
With his brand new vegetable garden, Pascal Devalkeneer resolutely intends to offer his guests a real invitation to awaken their senses that will allow them to leave the host with the ability to show and explain to the most curious among them the virtues and secrets of the aromas that then arrive on their plates. This is an endless challenge for this passionate chef who has far from finished as he is already thinking about the hives that he is going to put in place next year…