Annette Sloth (46) is a Dane who moved to Belgium twelve years ago. She lived in the Châtelain/Flagey area for the first ten years and moved to Tervuren two years ago, along with her wife and two sons (aged 1 and 4). She is the owner of Puls Contemporary Ceramics on Place du Châtelain/ Kasteleinsplein, a gallery specialized in contemporary ceramics and glass. Last year the gallery celebrated its 10th anniversary. www.pulsceramics.com
But she also has a great passion for food and cooking…
What is your relationship to food? Is it important to you?
I love good food. I love to cook it, eat it, think about it… I love to look into cookery books, but rarely use them. And if I do, I usually transform the recipes to my own taste.
When I was still living in Copenhagen I used to cook for a living while I was studying at art school. Not that I had any professional training. My career as a cook was a bit of a coincidence. I remember that a new café/restaurant had opened in Copenhagen, Café Bankeråt. On its second day I was there and tried their ratatouille. When asked if it was tasty I said: No, to be honest. The structure and the taste were wrong, the use of herbs was not right either. They asked me if I could do better and I said: Yes, sure. The next day I was working there. That was the beginning of my culinary career. Afterwards, I became the chef at another restaurant, Banana Republic, where I introduced tapas to the Danish café scene. I had just gotten back from a trip to Spain (this was the beginning of the nineties) and the whole tapas scene there was a real revelation to me. I love the idea of having different small dishes rather than one big plate of the same thing.
Anyway, I sort of became the tapas queen of Copenhagen.
Later on I also worked for about a year as a cook in Paris. I worked from the early morning till late at night. The restaurant business can be really tough.
Do you use recipes from friends or family?
Sometimes I use my mother’s recipes, for example her marinated beetroots or pickled cucumbers are Danish classics which she makes best.
If you could have dinner with a famous person, who would that be?
With the artist Anish Kapoor in restaurant Noma in Copenhagen. It’s supposed to be the best restaurant in the world. And it would be nice to experience it with one of the best artists of the world.
What’s your most important food ingredient?
I couldn’t cook without fresh herbs. I have a small herb garden, which gives me always a good supply of any herb I need.
Last summer I gave my oldest son Miel a small patch of land and created a vegetable garden for him, where he is now growing courgettes, pumpkin and rhubarb. It’s great to see how much children enjoy watching the little seeds they planted grow every day… and also a good way to convince them to eat their greens!
By the way, cooking for children is a real challenge… you always get an immediate response as to whether they like it or not.
Best food destination?
Goa. The combination of Portuguese/ Indian influences is divine. The food is quite spicy, but wonderfully fresh and the quality of the seafood was excellent, even when you buy it at beach stands or street stalls.
Best restaurant in Brussels?
Fresh Company in Lesbroussartstraat. The Irish cook Mary Fehily creates some very tasty, original, innovative and beautifully presented dishes in her lunch place, which is just around the corner from my gallery. I often take my artists, clients and friends there. Everybody is as enthusiastic and the prices are reasonable.
Le Marché des Chefs in the Lensstraat 38 (just around the corner from Fresh Company) is a fantastic little indoor market with beautiful fresh produce. Mind you, it is not cheap…
Apart from that I love the Wednesday market on the Châtelain (Kasteleinsplein), but I love markets in general.
Any food addiction?
Light mayonnaise with mackerel in tomato sauce and raw onions (For Breakfast!!!!!!!)
Last thing you cooked?
A last food recommendation?
The cooking classes by Café des Spores, organized at the cooking studio of Les Filles Plaisirs Culinaires in Sint-Gillis.
I received a cooking class there as a birthday present, and it turned out to be a surprise party. Ten of my best friends jumped out form behind the curtains when I came in… It was such a fantastic evening. Also being able to learn the secrets behind some of my favourite dishes from Café des Spores was a real treat…
Who will you interview next month?
My friend Ashley Peeler. This American lady has a virtual cupcake shop http://www.ilovecake.be and makes some of the best cupcakes around.