Belgium - Ignace Wattenberge
Maître Rôtisseur
and his Restaurant Lys d'Or in Ghent
" There is a lot of talk about the popularity of Ignace's cuisine "

Instant success for the brand new Lys d'Or
Barely three months after opening, Maître Rôtisseur Ignace Wattenberge’s Lys d’Or restaurant is being lavished with praise. An interview with this spontaneous and gregarious chef was the logical next step for Dolce, especially as he enjoys experimenting with the olive oil of Herdade de Vale de Arca.

A Burgundian cuisine with its own touch
After training at Ter Duinen catering college, Ignace gained experience in 't Molentje, Le Bistrot d'Eygalières and Fleur de Lin. In 2018 his contemporary version of a North Sea sole à la Normande earned him the title of ‘Best Belgian Chef' Three months ago the chef opened the doors of his own restaurant in Ghent.

“We are located in the middle of the art district of Ghent so you'll also find surprising art in our restaurant. The name of our restaurant is a reference to the river Lys, which flows only 200 metres from our front door and which was known for its golden glow caused by flax retting”, says the chef. “At Lys d'Or we offer classic dishes to which I add my own touch. A Burgundian cuisine with a twist and classics with my own vision.”

Back to the grandeur of yesteryear
Not only are the dishes the subject of much thought but the chef also has his own ideas about service and interior decoration. “We chose a warm interior with subtle golden touches. We think it's also important to give people space. You need to be able to talk freely: whether you're on a romantic date or having a business conversation, privacy is paramount.

We also want to bring back the grandeur of the service of yesteryear. For example, we fillet turbot in the dining room of the restaurant and we are currently making alterations which will allow us to finish other dishes in front of the guests. In addition, we have a beautiful cheese cart and good wine to match. Our wine list features classic vintages and when it comes to wine by the glass and wine and food pairing we also look beyond countries like France, Spain and Italy”

In Michelin's sights
There is a lot of talk about the popularity of Ignace's cuisine. Rumour has it that Michelin may be about to award the restaurant a first star. “As wonderful as that would be, it shouldn't be an end in itself. Our guests are the priority and I want them to have a great time. I try to make them feel welcome by coming into the room from time to time or to their table and, if possible, seeing them to the door when they leave.

In 5 years’ time I still want to enjoy being behind the stove of the restaurant. What's more, our location is fantastic and inspiring, enabling us to be at the forefront of current events. For example, we’ll serve special dishes for Van Eyck Year and we're also planning to do something around the Floralies of Ghent. We've given ourselves time to grow and for now we are meeting our objectives.”

An olive oil a cut above the rest
Olive oil is one of the stars in Ignace's kitchen. “Of course I work with olive oil a lot but I’m also partial to a good knob of butter - without overdoing it of course.”

Does he like the olive oil of Herdade de Vale de Arca? “Absolutely! It's a good, fruity olive oil. People might expect less from a Portuguese olive oil, but this olive oil stands out and is a cut above many others when it comes to quality.”

Ignace wanted to finish the interview by expressing his gratitude. “Although my wife doesn’t work in the restaurant, her support has been indispensable. Without her and, of course, our fantastic restaurant and kitchen team, this level would simply not have been achievable. I am very grateful and proud of everyone who has joined me in this adventure”, Ignace concluded.

Text: Kevin Stickens
Photography: Ekkow & Kris Jacobs

Website links
Restaurant Lys d'Or

Herdade de Vale de Arca Olive Oil