More than 100 clients and staff had to be evacuated on Saturday lunchtime from The Jane, the two-star Antwerp restaurant of TV chef Sergio Herman after fire broke out in the kitchen. The restaurant looks likely to be closed for a month for repairs. The fire appears to have been started when a flame from a barbecue grill spread to an extractor fan, causing severe smoke build-up, as seen in a video made by a client. At first the fire was reported as a roof fire, but fire services at the scene placed the source in the kitchen itself. Staff and diners were evacuated. From the extractor hood, the fire then spread through the ventilation system, fire chief Hans Somers said. The brigade was forced to break down the ceiling to get to the fire, and to prevent the ceiling itself catching light.
Chef Nick Bril was in the kitchen at the time, and told De Standaard, “I started putting it out myself, first with a powder extinguisher, but when that didn’t have much effect with the fire hose from the side kitchen. We were able to fight the fire pretty well, but then we saw it had spread outside.”
“For the time being there is no word of injuries,” police said. “The impact on the surroundings was also limited.”
The Jane opened its doors in March 2014 after several years of planning by Herman and his sous-chef Nick Bril from his three-star restaurant in Sluis just over the Dutch border in Zeeland. The restaurant is installed in the chapel of what used to be a military hospital. Bril was made head chef while Herman carried on with other projects, including books, a film and a chain of up-market chip shops. Oud Sluis, previously the restaurant of Herman’s parents where he caught the culinary bug, closed in December 2013.
Unusually, The Jane won its first Michelin star in the year of its opening, and the second in 2015.
“Hopefully the restaurant can open again in a month,” Bril told De Standaard.