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Star chef Sergio Herman to open mussels pop-up in Zeebrugge

© VTM

TV and Michelin star chef Sergio Herman is to open a pop-up restaurant selling mussels in Zeebrugge from 1 July, according to Syrco Bakker, head chef at Herman’s Pure C restaurant just across the Dutch border in Cadzand.

Herman achieved fame with his restaurant Oud Sluis in the town of Sluis in Zeeland. The turn to mussels-only cuisine is a return to his roots. Oud Sluis was created by his father Ronnie, who died in 2017, as a mussel restaurant.

Herman also found a following as a TV chef in Flanders on VTM, judging home-cooks along with fellow three-star chef Peter Goossens.

Herman is quoted in L’Amour des Moules, the book by food writer Willem Asaert:

When I was fourteen I helped in the kitchen. I had to stack the burlap sacks — which weighed up to 20 kilos — in the refrigerator. Every day 15 to 20 bags were delivered. That is quickly a few hundred kilos that I had to lift. In addition, every day I had to peel onions and wash and cut celery and parsley. And then there was the mussel sauce: I made litres! I had a real love-hate relationship with mussels.”

Apart from Pure C, Herman has recently been most active in Belgium, not only by moving to a house in Knokke. He opened an Italian restaurant, Le Pristine, in Antwerp, which immediately won a Michelin star.

The biggest project was The Jane, also in Antwerp, which he opened with his Oud Sluis head chef Nick Bril in 2014, one year after closing Oud Sluis. The restaurant received its first star in 2015, and its second one year later.

But the relationship soured as Bril felt he was developing the restaurant’s menu and reputation, while the hands-off Herman was reaping the credit. The two parted company recently when Herman sold his share to Bril.

He opened Frites Atelier – an upmarket chip shop – in Brussels and Antwerp, as well as branches in Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Arnhem. Customers should not be too disappointed to find him not slinging fries at those outlets; his participation is as innovator and entrepreneur rather than chef.

Whether that will be the case at the new pop-up in Zeebrugge remains to be seen. Bakker will be in charge, and the restaurant will be open for the first six weeks of mussel season.