David Martin, chef-proprietor of La Paix in Anderlecht, has been chosen as Chef of the Year 2019 in the new restaurant guide Gault & Millau Benelux. Martin was formerly also head chef in Bozar Brasserie, part of the arts complex. He recently turned over the reins to his sous-chef Karen Torosyan. He is also occupied with a restaurant in his native France.
Martin was praised for his creativity and grasp of French, Belgian and more recently Japanese cuisine. He has turned La Paix from an inventive but traditional brasserie into a cutting-edge restaurant worthy of one Michelin star and now this title of Chef of the Year.
“With David Martin as Chef of the Year, we have gone for a personality who shows vision, expertise, creativity and daring,” the guide’s jury said. “For that, he draws inspiration from French, Belgian and Japanese cuisine. This intelligent and enterprising chef has given restaurant La Paix a new identity, while maintaining respect for the past.”
The guide includes more than 1,300 restaurants, 240 appearing for the first time, while more than 100 names dropped out, in most cases because of closure rather than lack of quality. Included are two of Belgium’s three three-star restaurants: Hertog Jan in Zedegem near Bruges and De Karmeliet in Bruges itself. Both chefs have gone on to open more small-scale, approachable restaurants.
The Young Chefs of the Year were selected by region: Thijs Vervloet of Colette in Westerlo for Flanders; Maxime Zimmer of Un Max de Goût in Comblain-au-Pont for Wallonia and Maxime Maziers of Bruneau in Ganshoren for the Brussels region.
Meanwhile Wallonia scored its first restaurant with five toques – the G&M equivalent of a Michelin star. L’Air du temps in Éghezée, run by Sang-Hoon Degeimbre, achieved a score of 19/20, just behind list leaders Peter Goossens of Hof Van Cleve in Kruishoutem, and Christophe Hardiquest of Bon-Bon in Woluwe-Sint-Pierre, both on 19.5/20. The record for the top score of 20/20 is still held by Sergio Herman for Oud Sluis in the Netherlands, now closed.
Other climbers include Sea Grill in Brussels to 18.5, and The Jane in Antwerp and Chambre Séparée in Ghent to 18/20.