Discover Benelux, Issue 50, February 2018

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Discover Benelux  |  Contents

Contents FEBRUARY 2018





Lyne Renée

62 The Best Event Agencies and Locations in Flanders

She may be a Belgium native, but you would

Want to ensure your next event is one to remem-

not know it from looking at multilingual actor

ber? From company team-building to confer-

Lyne Renée’s résumé. From Israeli to American,

ences and parties, we showcase Belgium’s top

the talented star has convincingly portrayed a

events specialists.

host of different nationalities on both stage and screen. We caught up with Renée to find


out more about her latest role in Fox Network Group’s television drama Deep State.


Company profiles, regulars and more We look at the month ahead in Benelux business, as well as profiling the companies you


need to know about.

Tailored Architecture in Flanders We profile the best of tailored architecture


in Flanders, an area which has undoubtedly earned its place at the forefront of European cutting-edge design.


Exploring a European Capital of Culture Declared a European Capital of Culture,



A Taste of the Netherlands

Leeuwarden and the province of Friesland will

Our mouthwatering food and drink special

celebrate with a substantial programme of un-

showcases an array of delicious Dutch delica-

missable events this year, driven by the Frisian

cies and leading brands. Bon appétit!

community and beyond.

Castles in the Benelux


Benelux Beats

Both Belgium and Luxembourg are home to

Discover Benelux met up with rising star

some of Europe’s most fairytale-like landscapes.

Max Meser, whose perfect mix of ‘60s pop,

We present a guide to some of the most capti-

rock n’ roll, and fine folk and country takes us

vating castles these two countries have to offer.

back to bygone times.


85 6

Fashion Picks  |  8 Desirable Designs  |  80 Out & About  |  85 Columns

Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  3

Discover Benelux  |  Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux Issue 50, February 2018 Published 02.2018 ISSN 2054-7218 Published by Scan Group Print Liquid Graphic Ltd Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director Mads E. Petersen Editor Anna Villeleger Copy-editor Karl Batterbee Graphic Designer Mercedes Moulia

Juliën L’Ortye Matt Antoniak Michiel Stol Sofie Couwenbergh Steve Flinders Stuart Forster Cover Photo Bobby Quillard Sales & Key Account Managers Mette Tonnessen Katia Sfihi Micha Cornelisse Petra Foster Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3YT United Kingdom Phone: +44 (0)870 933 0423 Fax: +44 (0)870 933 0421 Email:

Contributors Bas van Duren Cathy van Klaveren Charlotte van Hek Eddi Fiegel Ella Put Frank van Lieshout Isa Hemphrey

Hooray for February! Congratulations on surviving what always feels like the longest month of the year. 2018 is now in full swing and there is plenty to be excited about in the Benelux. For a start, Leeuwarden-Friesland in the Netherlands is officially Cultural Capital of Europe 2018. Last month the King and Queen of the Netherlands performed the opening ceremony, with church bells ringing out across the entire province of Friesland. There are endless cultural highlights on the agenda for this year, including an extensive exhibition dedicated to the work of one of Leeuwarden’s most famous residents, the graphic artist M.C. Escher. Head to page 76 to read our guide to just some of the inspiring events you will not want to miss. One of the most interesting things about the Frisian culture is its strong identity – the province even has its own language which, along with Scottish, is said to be the closest living language to English. Talking of language, our cover star this month is multilingual actor Lyne Renée, who has portrayed a host of nationalities ranging from Israeli to American on both stage and screen. A Belgium native, Renée’s latest role is portraying Frenchwoman Anna Easton in the upcoming television drama Deep State. We caught up with the eloquent and passionate 38-year-old to find out more about her part in the eagerly anticipated espionage thriller, set to hit screens worldwide on 12 March. Meanwhile this month we also take a look at some of the Benelux’s most captivating castles, as well as profiling some of the region’s leading food and drink brands in our ‘taste of the Netherlands’ special. From craft beers to pancakes and plenty more in-between, we guarantee it will leave your mouth watering. Enjoy!

Anna Villeleger, Editor We are a media you can trust. The print circulation of Discover Benelux is audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), which is the UK body for media measurement.

© All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Scan Group – a trading name of Scan Magazine Ltd. This magazine contains advertorials/promotional articles.

4  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks


Keeping it dry February is one of the wettest months of the year, especially when living in the Benelux. Few things are as annoying as arriving at your destination with wet clothes, a devastated hairdo and soaked socks. With these fashion designs you have nothing to fear when leaving the warmth of your home. TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: PRESS PHOTOS

Cover up Is it a pullover? Is it a jacket? Meet the anorak: the most versatile piece to transition into any season. While the oversized hood keeps your hair dry, the stylish design will ensure you look fashionable day-to-night. Combine it with jeans for any occasion. €219.95

In the hood Many winter coats nowadays do not boast a hood, but you have nothing to fear when wearing this warm sweater from NYMA underneath your jacket. Based in Nijmegen, this young Dutch street label offers honest, sustainable and unisex clothing with a fun nod to its hometown. €59.95

Splash proof Transporting important documents or your favourite clothing in pouring rain is no longer a problem with this splash proof bag. The bag is made from 100 per cent waterproof fabric and has coated water repellent zippers. Rain can no longer do your luggage any harm. €225 6  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks

Staying warm It might not look like a heavyweight protector, but this bomber jacket from Dutch brand G-Star is surprisingly strong. The jacket is made from lightweight and supple twill that will keep the February cold away. Another plus: you can wear the jacket both indoors and outdoors. €219.95

Poncho pride Who would have thought that the words poncho and fashionable would ever be used in the same sentence? This bright orange poncho is a cool solution for unexpected rain at your next music festival adventure. €90

Made for walking In recent years rain boots have evolved from being purely functional to a musthave for any music festival or rainy day. These boots boast a fun fake-fur detail and have smart anti-slip soles, so you do not have to worry about slippery surfaces while dancing fiercely. €79.95 Joules via Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  7

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Desirable Designs


The art of giving February equals winter and cold, but it also means that Valentine’s day is here! Although you do not have to wait until 14 February to surprise your loved ones with a precious gift. These fun and heart-warming gifts are sure to make you someone’s favourite person. TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: PRESS PHOTOS


2. Say it with flowers While a beautiful bouquet will always remain a good gift, it will be appreciated even more when combined with a special vase. This unique piece has a fun yet sleek design and will even dazzle those with no green fingers. €330 Tania da Cruz via

2. 1. Monroe mood Inspired by the seductive movements of iconic movie star Marilyn Monroe, the designers from Essential Home put together this elegant and chic piece of retro furniture. Imagine the look on his or her face when revealing such an enchanting armchair. Price on request

3. For the sweet tooth Candy floss was first invented over a century ago, and since then it has been a hit in every corner of the world. This quirky machine will make anyone with a sweet tooth’s mouth water. €79.90 Nostalgia Electrics via

5. May the force Of course we all know the famous Stormtroopers: the slightly clumsy, dressed-in-white bad guys from Star Wars. A lot cooler and more dangerous are the Shadow Troopers, so it made sense to use the latter as a model for this dangerously good Bluetooth speaker. €49.95


4. Pin the world Does your partner suffer from wanderlust? Or do you just want to save all those precious travel memories in a creative way? This pin-up board is the perfect combination of modern design and retro charm. €24.95 8  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018



Life in the city center has become an absolute must. Brussels-City and its neighborhood Dansaert / Sainte-Catherine, the most trendy of the capital, make no exception. The Cosmopolitan is made for you : an exceptional place for city dwellers seeking urban perfection.


02 318 18 08

0476 87 97 46

Global fashion with an Amsterdam twist TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: SCOTCH & SODA

For decades fashion brand Scotch & Soda has been synonymous with Amsterdam, home to its first ever store in 2008. The company’s design headquarters are still based in the capital, but these days Scotch & Soda is a global player. The label evokes Amsterdam’s liberal, free-thinking spirit, but it is also international – in its geographical presence and the way its designers ‘treasure hunt’ for unexpected sources of inspiration across the globe. “We get inspiration everywhere, but we bring it back to Amsterdam,” explains Scotch & Soda’s chief marketing officer Adam Kakembo. “Our designers and creative director go to far flung areas of 10  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

the world to find inspiration. While it is not uncommon for creatives to find inspiration abroad, what makes Scotch & Soda unique is that our designers can find inspiration in a poem, a vintage fabric, a ruin, an artefact. They bring all these pieces back to Amsterdam and it’s here where we blend that magic together.”

Expect the unexpected Having started life as a menswear brand, Scotch & Soda now creates collections for men (Scotch), women (Maison), boys (Shrunk) and girls (R’Belle), as well as having its own denim line (Amsterdams Blauw). The magic is made at the label’s canal-side design studio Number 22, housed in an 18th-century church. Creative director Marlou van Engelen and her

team craft and create collections with a distinct Scotch & Soda aesthetic. As Kakembo explains, the creations are “pieces of art translated into collection items”. What makes them recognisably Scotch & Soda is hard to define, but expect the unexpected. A trench coat could feature a surprising detail, such as a kimono wrap silhouette.

Intimate and personal You will find at least one Scotch & Soda store in every city in the Netherlands, while in the capital the flagship store is in Heiligeweg. There is another smaller boutique in the Nine Streets, as well as a kids’ store and a boutique selling Amsterdams Blauw. There is also a concept

Discover Benelux  |  Dutch Design Profile  |  Scotch & Soda

A global brand

Scotch & Soda DNA, every branch is unique. “We like to draw on the heritage of the destination whenever we can. A local architectural quirk is a gift to us. We’ll always embrace them in our bespoke store designs,” says Kakembo. Store hosts and stylists are there to give customers advice rather than trying to sell clothes.

You will find a Scotch & Soda in every place within the world that you would expect a global brand to be, and the expansion is rapid. However, do not expect generic stores. While they share the same

Kakembo: “What trend forecasters are talking about now is this move towards small, boutique-style individual stores. That is what we’ve always done.” This is

store dedicated to the label’s denim line. Called The Blauw Kitchen, it is located in the trendy De Pijp neighbourhood. “It’s a really intimate and personal place. It’s our take on how we would like to see denim presented,” says Kakembo.

unsurprising, as Scotch & Soda has always been ahead of the curve, unafraid to stand out from the crowd. “If you think of fashion as an archipelago, with each island consisting of brands such as luxury French or Italian, or American sportswear, Scotch & Soda can’t be placed on one of those islands. We are on our own individual island,” concludes Kakembo.

Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  11

Discover Benelux  |  Tailored Architecture in Flanders  |  Sustainability, Innovation, and Craftsmanship

Dehullu Architecten, page 18.


Sustainability, innovation, and craftsmanship This month, we profile the best of tailored architecture in Flanders, an area which has undoubtedly earned its place at the forefront of European cutting-edge design.

Architecten Achtergael, page 16.

12  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

Discover Benelux  |  Tailored Architecture in Flanders  |  Sustainability, Innovation, and Craftsmanship

NAV honours Callebaut-architecten, OMGEVING and Coussée & Goris with Jo Crepain Prizes NAV, the Network of Architects in Flanders, is the largest professional federation of architects in Flanders. With the Jo Crepain prizes, NAV highlights the region’s most innovative firms. The 2017 edition saw Drongen’s Callebautarchitecten named Most Promising Startup, OMGEVING from Antwerp scoop the award for Innovative Architectural Office and Ghent duo Ralf Coussée and Klaas Goris win the Career Award. Choosing Coussé & Goris as Career Award winners was logical, explains architect and jury member Luc Binst. Binst ran the Crepain Binst Architecture office together with esteemed Belgian architect Jo Crepain until the latter’s death in 2008. “Ralf and Klaas are authentic and intellectual architectural personalities who maintain a straight and ethical line in everything: their innovative architecture, their management, their commitment to education.” Projects by Coussée & Goris include the Zwin Nature Center in Knokke-Heist, the Waalse Krook in Ghent and the Hofheide crematorium in Holsbeek.

TOP LEFT: Zwin Natuurcentrum, Knokke-Heist. In 2011 Coussée & Goris architects won the competition for a visitor centre, connecting infrastructure and viewing centre in collaboration with GAFPA bureau for architecture and urban planning. Engineering: Studieburo Mouton, Kahle acoustics. Landscape design: Atelier Veldwerk, Sweco. Exhibition concept: Madoc, Koen Van Synghel. Selected for the Mies van der Rohe award 2016. BELOW LEFT: De Waalse Krook, Gent. In 2009 Coussée & Goris architects and RCR Aranda Pigem Vilalta Arquitectes won the competition for a new city library in the heart of the city. Engineering firms: Studieburo Mouton, VK Engineering. Landscape architecture: TV Coussée & Goris / RCR in collaboration with Technum. RIGHT: Crematorium Hofheide, Holsbeek. Laureate of an international competition in 2006, this was designed by Coussée & Goris architects together with RCR Aranda Pigem Vilalta Arquitectes. Selected for the Mies van der Rohe award in 2014 and winner of the Provincial Architecture Award ‘Patrimonium for the future’ in 2015. Awarded in 2016 by The Culture Trip as one of the ten most unique Belgian buildings and winner of the Architizer award in the category Religious Buildings & Memorials. In 2016, it won the NAN Prize as the best foreign project of a Spanish studio. In 2017, this project won the European Architecture Award in the Industry category. BOTTOM: Jo Crepain © Wouter Rawoens. Architect Jo Crepain (1950-2008) remained a rebel throughout his life. In 1974 he was awarded the Robert Maskens Prize, the most important Belgian architecture award, for the home with barbershop Roels. In 1988 he received the prestigious Premio Palladio. His talent was appreciated in that period in the Netherlands, where he realised numerous large projects. In his own country he realised, in addition to a large number of houses, the UCO building in Ghent, the Renson industrial building in Waregem, which received an Energy Award in 2003, and the Telindus building in Haasrode. In 2006 he swapped his desk Jo Crepain Architect nv for Crepain Binst Architecture nv, a collaboration with Luc Binst. He died just two years later.

With the Jo Crepain awards, NAV wants to encourage architects who are pioneers in the fields of architecture, sophisticated business management and social engagement. NAV represents more than 70 per cent of the architects in Flanders and Brussels with more than 3,000 affiliated architects. NAV is affiliated with UNIZO, the Union for Independent Entrepreneurs, and the Federation of Liberal Professions. NAV has five branches in West Flanders, East Flanders, Limburg, Waasland-Antwerp and Flemish Brabant-Brussels.

Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  13



1. BNP Paribas Fortis HQ - Brussels - Belgium 2. Manhattan Center - Brussels - Belgium


3. Deloitte & KPMG HQ - Brussels Airport - Belgium 4. Quatuor Building - Brussels - Belgium

In cooperation with - 1. BE Baumschlager Eberle - Styfhals & Partners - 3. Deloitte HQ : A2RC ARCHITECTS - 6. E&L Architects

5. Nike European Logistics Campus - Laakdal - B 6. One Carlton - Knokke-Heist - Belgium


6 5


We would be pleased to welcome you on our stand at

13-16 March 2018 - Cannes, France

Discover Benelux  |  Tailored Architecture in Flanders  |  Sustainability, Innovation, and Craftsmanship

LEFT: De Warande Turnhout - Architecten Achtergael with Stéphane Beel - client: Provincie Antwerpen. Photo © Filip Dujardin. TOP RIGHT: Waterbouwkundig Labo Borgerhout - Architecten Achtergael – client: Vlaamse Overheid. Photo © Nanopixel. RIGHT: Dungelhoeff Lier - Architecten Achtergael – client: Solag, Matexi, Cordeel. Photo © Filip Dujardin. BELOW RIGHT: Villa V in T - Architecten Achtergael with Stéphane Beel - client: private. Photo © Filip Dujardin. BOTTOM RIGHT: Groen Kwartier Antwerpen - Architecten Achtergael with Stéphane Beel - client: Vanhaerents, Matexi. Photo © Toon Grobet

Architecture as a ‘positive virus’ TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN

With a mileage of 25 years, Ghentbased Architecten Achtergael is a steady name in the Belgian field of architecture, having accomplished a wide array of projects such as residential developments, commercial buildings, public spaces and the redevelopment of existing structures. An impressive portfolio from a firm willing to make a difference in people’s lives. Because of the variety of projects designed by Architecten Achtergael, it is hard to pigeonhole the firm. Whether for masterplans on a city level, public buildings on a street level or private, residential structures, Achtergael has the same intent and high ambition for every project at every level, from the greatest measure to the smallest detail, no matter if it is short term or for the long haul. All of Achtergael’s projects start from reinterpreting specific contexts, often previous industrial or military sites. By adding seemingly simple yet well-thoughtout contemporary additions, the firm 16  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

manages to create new meanings and functions to a district. One of Achtergael’s prime examples would be the Dungelhoeff site in Lier, where an old military school was transformed into a mix of public buildings, green spaces and residential areas. “The project has become a positive virus, creating a new-found brilliance for the district while still having an accessible feel. We’re very happy with how everything turned out and have witnessed the rise of a new flourishing neighbourhood where old and new have found a balance.” Empowering a district is not unusual for Architecten Achtergael, as seen in the rededefining of Antwerp’s military hospital in collaboration with Stéphane Beel Architects. What once was a sealed off enclave is now a car-free neighbourhood in which diverse typologies create a rich social mix. A large green park encourages social interaction and forms a safe haven where children can play outside as the only traffic passing by are pedestrians and cyclists. “The complex works as a catalyst for its surroundings. Completing

socially meaningful projects is something we value highly at Achtergael. We use our know-how for a wide variety of projects in which we not only add value to the built environment, but also to its users, visitors, passers-by and others.”

Web: Mail:

Discover Benelux  |  Tailored Architecture in Flanders  |  Sustainability, Innovation, and Craftsmanship

Combining architecture with environmental know-how TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN  |  PHOTOS: A-ID ARCHITECTEN

As a firm that also specialises in city planning, environmental issues and sustainability, it is too easy to pitch A-ID ARCHITECTEN as just an architectural firm. Operating in the Belgian town of Merelbeke, in the shadow of Ghent, Ines Eeman and Dirk Mattheeuws lead their team of eight, combining a wide variety of expertise and enabling A-ID to approach existing and new projects in a manner that can answer every kind of demand a project needs. A versatile architecture firm, capable of doing just about anything you expect a company such as A-ID should be able to do. From residential projects to office buildings and from new constructions to renovating that which need to be renovated. With 60 percent of their projects being residential, their business comprises, for the largest part, apartments and villas, and not just limited to Belgium. “We are also building in the Netherlands and coastal regions in France. The residential projects are largely commissioned by private parties, others by investors,” says Eeman.

What makes A-ID especially attractive for anyone involved with non-residential projects, is the in-house knowledge about environmental issues. Mattheeuws graduated as an architect in 1995 and has been an accredited external environment coordinator since 2003. “Knowing all sides of the coin has its advantages,” he explains. “We’ve done projects before with industries such as food and beverage processing and products, handling facilities, waste management and recycling companies. With our integrated and structured approach, we can combat local complex legislation and future-proof our company, knowing that governments are steering towards a scenario where environmental permits and zero-energy buildings are the norm.” Apart from knowledge of legislation, Mattheeuws is an expert when it comes to environmental issues, such as soil contamination, water pollution, noise and dust disturbances, and waste. “It’s more than just knowing how to deal with these issues, but also how to prevent them.

Once that’s dealt with, there’s still a lot of environmental administration for the client to deal with, but that’s something you can outsource to A-ID as well. To make communications with our company easy, in most cases I’m the single point of contact, helping you to get your project to where it should be.”

Address: Hundelgemsesteenweg 734, MERELBEKE, BELGIUM Web: Mail:

Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  17

Discover Benelux  |  Tailored Architecture in Flanders  |  Sustainability, Innovation, and Craftsmanship Stadhuis Harelbeke.

Auditorium AZ Groeninge Kortrijk / Dehullu Architecten. Photo: © Dennis De Smet

Award-winning architecture TEXT: FRANK VAN LIESHOUT

Their inspired concepts, clear designs and exceptional craftsmanship have made Dehullu Architects into one of Belgium’s top firms in private and public architecture. Having won the prestigious Brick Award in 2017, CEO Bert Dehullu and his team are now looking forward to exciting new challenges. The Dehullu story began in 1979 when Philippe Dehullu launched Dehullu & Partners. When his son Bert took over in 2008, the firm was renamed Dehullu Architects. Bert brings not only his architectural expertise to the table, but also his extensive experience in structural engineering. Under his leadership Dehullu gradually branched out from the private sector into medium-scale house building schemes and high profile public utility buildings. In October 2017 the seven strong Dehullu team claimed their greatest prize so far, winning the prestigious International Brick Award for their design of a research, teaching and conference auditorium at the Groeninge Teaching Hospital in the Belgian town of Kortrijk. The jury praised the use of coarse, light-grey bricks to emphasise the building’s soft curves, creating a peaceful, welcoming haven set in 18  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

green surroundings. “The building was expressly designed as a free-flowing form contrasting with the strict logic of the hospital,” says Bert Dehullu. “The idea is to take students, doctors and nursing staff away from their daily routine into this inspirational environment.”

the ambition to create something unique. A building that has its own identity and at the same time perfectly complements its surroundings.”

Bare essentials The auditorium exemplifies the kind of architecture Dehullu champion, combining clear design with traditional craftsmanship and connecting surroundings, infrastructure and design on all levels. “The way we work is we strip our ideas down to the bare essentials, and from there create something new, original and inspiring,” Bert explains. “We’re always looking for the perfect balance between form, idea and practical reality.” Although their award has been raising a lot of interest, Bert is not looking to grow into a big firm taking on high volume building or mammoth projects. “Rather, we want to expand our creativity,” he says. “Our ambition is to continue designing eye-catching public utility and house building projects, but also private builds where we can work with clients who have

House in Waasmunster.

Dehullu Therapeutisch Centrum AZ Groeninge. Photo: © Dennis De Smet


Discover Benelux  |  Tailored Architecture in Flanders  |  Sustainability, Innovation, and Craftsmanship

Transforming ideas into unique homes TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: CH-ARCHITECTEN

Each house is as unique as the family that lives in it. And it only becomes a home when that family feels its warmth. This is what Thierry Halsberghe and Nathalie Cruysweegs of CH-Architecten have in mind when they start each project, whether it is a new home, a renovation or a public building.

way the light enters the home is extremely important. We therefore use large windows and roof lighting to create warmth,” Cruysweegs elaborates. “For instance, we did that with the renovation of an old farmhouse that used to have straw roofing. We stripped it and created a modern home, bathed in light.”

“Clients come in with an idea or a feeling. Together we create a home or a building which is as unique as their idea,” explains Nathalie Cruysweegs, architect and managing director of CH-Architecten. “Each project is a custom one, where we look at the client’s ideas for the design of the house and its interior, but also we look at the surrounding aspects, like the location of the building and its context to the surroundings. Is the house located in the city or a rural area? Are there any adjacent buildings? What are the sightlines? Only we know all these aspects so we can design a custom house, tailored to the client’s wishes.”

Near Energy Neutral

Natural lighting

Each of CH-Architecten’s projects are unique and tell their own story. “Just like each of our clients are unique and tell their own story,” smiles Cruysweegs. “Together

One of the key components of every design is natural lighting. “Natural light determines how you experience a house. The

with them we transform that idea into a design from top to bottom, from the outside to the inside, always keeping in mind the budget that is available for the project. We are only satisfied when a project meets all of the client’s ideas and wishes and when they feel the warmth. That means the project is a success.”

CH-Architecten works according to Near Energy Neutral standards (BEN-standards). These standards will become mandatory in 2021. “During the design we also look at the technical side of a build: how to make the building as energy neutral as possible, when it comes to heating, ventilation and producing energy. Isolation, water heating pumps and solar panels are important features for this and we work them into the design, without disturbing our client’s ideas. The technical look also helps us instruct the building company, to make sure the construction will be perfect.”



Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  19

Discover Benelux  |  Tailored Architecture in Flanders  |  Sustainability, Innovation, and Craftsmanship

‘The client’s way of life is the true design’ TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: SASS ARCHITECTS

“If you can draw the basic design with ten lines or less, then you know it is strong.” That is the philosophy of SASS Architects from Temse and its founder Sam van Mele. He and his young team of specialists all contribute to create the perfect and personal designs of their clients. SASS was created in 2015 and stands for Sam & ASSociates. “We all know each other from working together at the Luca School of Arts in Ghent. I believe in the power of collaboration and individual strengths. That is why I feel we are not a traditional architects bureau, but rather a hub for creative minds that work together to come up with the best ideas,” Sam explains.

Look at the lives of clients “To get the best understanding of what the design has to look like, we do not just ask about the wishes and ideas of our clients,” reveals Sam. “It is more of an interview, where we find out how our clients live, what their hobbies are and how they will use the house. We also meet our clients at home, to see for ourselves how they live. Is their lifestyle orderly or organ20  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

ised more ‘loosely’? It is their way of life that makes the true design.” Based on that, the whole team start to brainstorm about the concept, both for the exterior design as well as the interior. “Our office is more of a den than an old fashioned office, with lots of impulses to stimulate creativity. Inspiration doesn’t come from behind a desk, it comes from impulses,” Sam smiles.

At one with the surroundings Lighting is always a big part of the designs by SASS Architects. “People aren’t made to live in confined spaces; we used to live in nature. Our designs try to bring as much of that nature indoors, using views, temperature and natural lighting. That makes a building much more spacious,”

Sam continues. “This way we can also incorporate sustainable solutions from the beginning, rather than to retrofit them afterwards at additional costs.” SASS Architects does not design just detached houses, they also design complete plots. “The terraced houses we design for this have to have flexibility for new owners to easily create their own home, even if the outsides look the same. It still has to fit with their way of life. “The goal of our designs is not just to make our clients happy, but to really get them settled in their new home in the shortest period of time.” Web:

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands


Bon appétit! Of course one’s mind springs to Gouda cheese and famous beer producers such as Heineken and Grolsch when thinking about food and drink in the Netherlands. However, as our mouthwatering food and drink special proves, there are even more delicious Dutch delicacies to be devoured! PHOTOS: NBTC

22  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

TOP FOOD AND DRINK TIPS We asked NBTC Holland Marketing for their top five foodie tips:

Dutch asparagus Asparagus season lasts around two months in Holland, with the first crops peeking through the ground from late February/early March onwards. They are traditionally harvested from the second Thursday in April until 24 June. Several regions grow asparagus in Holland, but Limburg is the main producing area. The white asparagus is grown here and is locally referred to as white gold. In Limburg

there is even a 47-kilometre cycle route which takes in the asparagus fields and which goes past quality restaurants serving the local speciality.

There are many restaurants on the island specialising in serving lamb, and foodies travel especially to Texel to enjoy it on the island.

Texel lamb


On the island of Texel you can see the many pastures used as grazing ground for sheep and lamb. The soil has a special quality to it due to its proximity to the sea and the maintenance by the local Texel farmers. Texel lamb spend 100 days in the pasture with their mothers and these conditions give the lamb a unique taste.

Jenever, or Genever, is probably the best known gin among many typically Dutch alcoholic beverages. Originally, it was a malt wine to which extracts of juniper berries were added. However, since the late 19th century producers often add neutral ethyl alcohol. Virtually every bar in Holland sells it as ‘jonge jenever’ (young) Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  23

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

or ‘oude jenever’ (mature). The city of Schiedam was the capital of jenever production and it is still produced there today. The city also has a museum dedicated to the spirit where you can learn all about its distilling process, flavour development and its part in Dutch culture.

Seafood specialties from Zeeland Oysters, lobsters, mussels, cockles and periwinkles: Zeeland is famous for these delicious salty flavours. The fruits of the sea can be sampled in many of Zeeland’s excellent restaurants. Zeeland is home to two types of oyster; flat oysters are somewhat more exclusive, and are primarily eaten raw with a pinch of pepper and some lemon juice. The wild oyster can be served both grilled and raw. You can taste the oysters from September up to and including June.

New herring from The Hague The Hague and the seaside resort of Scheveningen has wonderful seafood restaurants. If you are looking for a tradition24  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

al snack or Dutch treat, you should really try the Hollandse Nieuw Herring, sold at Simonis. This is brought in straight from the early morning fish auction and is enjoyed with onions and pickles. To really experience Dutch herring culture, visit Scheveningen on ‘Vlaggetjesdag’ (Flag

Day), held each year in June. With this event, the city celebrates the start of herring season and the first barrel of herring is auctioned off. It may sell for tens of thousands of euros and each year the profit is traditionally donated to charity. Herring stands can be found across the city.

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

A TA S T E O F T H E N E T H E R L A N D S We present our pick of the food and drink brands you need to know about in the Netherlands:

Alldra Read more from page 26 Alldra turns out a whopping five million kilos of colourful sweet toppings at its state-of-the-art factory in Almelo.

Slot Oostende & Brouwerij Emelisse Read more from page 34 At Slot Oostende Brewery in Goes, master brewer Jens van Stee always tries to create a beer with a little twist.

Primus Wafer Paper Read more from page 38 With more than 100 years of experience, this Dutch privately owned company is the world leader when it comes to edible branding.

Duo Penotti Read more from page 28 One of the Netherlands’ most ubiquitous chocolate hazelnut spread brands is Duo Penotti, invented by a family company based in the city of Roosendaal.

Brouwerij Bruut Read more from page 35 Amsterdam locals Sander and Ward have already produced two award-winning speciality beers under the brand Bruut.

Ojah Read more from page 39 Ojah is responsible for a popular brand of soy-based imitation meat, combining know-how of biomaterials with the dream of a worldwide revolution.

HAK Read more from page 30 HAK offers a broad assortment of various products ranging from vegetables and pulses to apple sauce and other fruit products.

Boot Koffie Read more from page 36 This company has been around for 45 years, and they know the craft of coffee roasting like no other.

Noordhoek Geraspte Kaas Read more from page 40 Founded by Cees Noordhoek and Tijmen Koelewijn in 1998, Noordhoek Grated Cheese is the specialist in the field of grated and cut cheese.

Lowlander Beer Read more from page 32 Lowlander Beer has taken inspiration from the past to create a new range of beers brewed with botanicals for a subtle and lasting depth of flavours.

Pannenkoekenhuis Hans & Grietje Read more from page 37 Guests here can enjoy delicious pancakes whilst enjoying an interactive experience inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairytales.

Boomsma Read more from page 41 Unlike many distilleries, Boomsma – which was founded in 1883 – is still an independent family company.

Trots Bier Rotterdam Read more from page 33 Trots Bier Rotterdam pioneered the first beer to be made in Rotterdam and currently produces Trots Blond beer and Trots White beer.

Punselie Cookie Company Read more from page 38 Gouda is home to the Punselie Cookie Company; a family business renowned for its take on the famous ‘stroopkoekjes’.

Perfetti Van Melle Read more from page 42 In 2001 Dutch company Van Melle joined forces with Italy’s Perfetti. Their candy, mints and gum are available in more than 180 countries.

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Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands


Ever wondered about the festive sprinkles on your doughnut, the colourful hundreds and thousands on your chocolates, or the joyous little pink and blue pearls on your liquorice allsorts? Discover Benelux takes you to the Dutch town of Almelo to find out all about the celebratory little sweets that really top off your treats. Chances are you will at one time or another have enjoyed the sweet toppings produced at the state-of-the-art Alldra factory in Almelo. Recently acquired by Belgian sugar manufacturer Iscal, Alldra turn out a whopping five million kilos of these colourful decorations every year, which they export around the world. “We produce toppings for a range of large 26  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

global manufacturers of confectionery, cakes, doughnuts, chocolates and ice cream,” says Alldra’s managing director Coen Louwerse. “But we make large quantities for home baking as well - decorations such as coloured sprinkles and silver balls. So you’ll also find us on the supermarket shelves.” Every single ball, pearl and nonpareil they produce at Alldra is built around one single sugar crystal. “Just like the granulated sugar crystals you have at home,” Coen explains. “But because these crystals are square, the first thing we need to do is make them round.” This is done in large, rotating kettles, which smooth off the crystals before they are covered with thin layers of glucose and starch or sugar

powder. “It’s just like rolling a snowball, only in this case it’s a tiny one and we produce thousands and thousands of them each day.”

Experience Still, the production of these tiny balls, pearls and nonpareils is only half the story. Although most of Alldra’s 40-strong team work on the production side of the business, they are more than just a manufacturing company. They also help their customers to develop new products. “The basic product we make is white, so we need to add colour as well as flavourings, fragrance and texture to match the product the toppings are used for,” Coen explains. “And that’s where our extensive expertise really comes to the fore. Our

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

company was founded as far back as the 1930s, so we have been in the confectionery business for more than 85 years. We have all that experience which has been passed on through the generations to help our clients develop toppings for their new products, and test which colours, flavours, textures and aromas would be ideal. I always tell people that we are, in a sense, a company without a product of their own, because the single most important way in which we can stand out from the crowd and distinguish ourselves is by helping our clients to develop a winning new product for their customers. We need to make sure our toppings are the cherry on their cake, so to speak.”

and asks them to develop a suitable topping, they will usually start with a brainstorming session and a few tests at the Alldra laboratories. After some more trials, Alldra will produce a first sample, which will then be tested by the client at their own facilities. “Most times, the client will ask us to fine-tune the product a number of times before we have found the perfect topping.” As well as the look, taste and smell of their toppings, Alldra also advise their clients on how particular colours or textures will react to the new product they are combined with. “This is important to make sure the toppings will actually stick to the product and not lose their colour for instance,” Coen explains.

The perfect topping

Organic sugar

If a client approaches the Alldra team with a new concept for a new product

In recent years, Alldra have also started to focus on using natural ingredients and

phasing out E numbers. “We need to deliver constant excellence in service and quality, not only for our customers but also for the consumer,” Coen explains. “Our commitment to producing an eco-friendly product is an important part of this. This is why we have also stepped up the use of organic sugar for our products. But don’t worry, we will make sure that our toppings will always look festive, bright and delicious,” he smiles, “and that we will keep turning them out in all the colours of the rainbow.” Web:

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Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

T W I C E T H E C H O C O L AT E , T W I C E T H E F U N


The Dutch are quite fond of putting chocolate on their bread for breakfast. The famous ‘hagelslag’ are a phenomenon and chocolate spreads are a real staple. One of the Netherlands’ most ubiquitous chocolate hazelnut spread brands is Duo Penotti: a brand invented by a family company based in the Dutch city Roosendaal, close to the Belgian border. As its name implies, the spread is presented in glass jars and consists of two flavours that appear side by side in a stripy manner, a unique product concept: two colours, two flavours and six stripes in one jar. More than just a novelty, Duo Penotti’s brand awareness is enormous, due to being the first to present a spread in this particular way and an ironclad marketing campaign that spawned television commercials and a slogan that imprinted themselves on the Dutch collective memory. It is not an exaggeration to say almost everyone in the Netherlands has had Duo Penotti on their bread in the morning at least once. A feat that takes a lot of hard work and quite a history, and in this case, it all started back in the early 1970s. It 28  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

was during the 80s when founder Marcel Peeters came up with the novel idea of combining the two and even though the machinery at the time was not equipped to fill a jar with two different flavours, the Peeters family customised the equipment, making the swirly spread possible. The name ‘Duo Penotti’ was created as a nod to the family name (hence the ‘Pe’ in ‘Penotti’) and as a reference to the Italian word for hazelnut; ‘nocciole’, which is one of the main ingredients of Peeters’ chocolate spread that comes in jars ranging from 225 to 750 grams. A brand was born and though the presentation of the product itself was unique and iconic, it was the marketing campaign that really made Duo Penotti the nation’s favourite chocolate hazelnut spread. The slogan/tune ‘Duo Penotti, twee kleuren in een potti’ was a genuine earworm as it rhymes perfectly and the melody is simple yet genius. Commercial director Daniel Peeters of Duo Penotti starts to laugh at the mention of the slogan. “When we have somebody over for a job interview, we sometimes start off by asking if they can sing the tune. They always can.” Equally famous: their television commercials from

the 90s where two boys share oversized pants and sing the Duo Penotti song. It was awarded with the ‘Golden Effie’, the hottest accolade in advertising for the most effective advertising campaign. As sons of founder Marcel Peeters, who to this day is the CEO, Daniel and his brother Sel have always been involved with the company, knowing the brand through and through. Following on from the success of Duo Penotti the company launched a totally innovative range of indulgent ‘speculoos’ cookie spreads made with real original Belgian cookies. Daniel: “We took quite some steps to up the quality of our product even more. To create the best-tasting chocolate spreads Penotti uses the finest, partly sustainably sourced, ingredients: organic milk, UTZ certified cocoa and lots of nuts (hazelnuts, almonds). Moreover all spreads are GMO free and contain no colours, preservatives, or artificial flavours. Penotti has spread from being a local to a global success story and is present in

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

more than 45 countries, some of them in Asia, the Middle East and North America. Penotti started its export journey in neighbouring country Belgium at Delhaize, and has since then expanded its distribution to Colruyt and, most recently, Carrefour. “Naturally, consumer insights helped us to develop new and exciting flavours like our cult favourite Duo Penotti Cookies & Milk or our most recent innovation, Duo Penotti Almond & Milk, a delicious combination of roasted almonds and creamy milk. Duo Penotti Hazelnut (the one and only, and the most popular flavour) and Duo Penotti Caramel complete the range. Duo Penotti is loved by children and adults alike.” ‘Branching out’ does not exclusively mean ‘new flavours’ for Duo Penotti. You can

enjoy the great taste of Duo Penotti anywhere with Penotti 2Go: crunchy breadsticks to dip in a ‘doublelicous’ spread. The spread makers recently launched a new line of single serve portion packs, making the iconic brand available for outof-home consumption. With 15 grams of the chocolate goodness in a cup, it is perfect for either slices of bread or on-thego consumption. “A new and fun way to enjoy Duo Penotti: wherever, whenever! The individual Penotti portion packs are available in four different flavours.” Daniel: “This is quite the adventure for us, since our Penotti products have been mainly distributed through retailers, while the portion packs are much more applicable for the airline industry, catering and foodservice platforms. We’ve launched

several concepts in the past and have learned the time must be ripe for new ideas and we definitely feel these portion packs should be one of our next steps, and are in line with consumer trends like convenience, variety and on-the-go solutions.” Aside from that, there will always be new ideas to develop and recipes to try out. “We are the market leader in the Netherlands when it comes to chocolate spreads and hope to roll out our beloved Penotti range to even more countries in the near future. Penotti is a leader in innovation and dedicated to developing the besttasting chocolate hazelnut spreads that our consumers can trust and enjoy.” Web:

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Photo: Peter van Halder


Creating added value in vegetables and pulses TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN  |  PHOTOS: HAK

Ask anyone in the Netherlands to name a brand of preserved vegetables and chances are they will mention the HAK company. Based in Giessen, in the province of Noord-Brabant, the enterprise has a rich history of 65 years and has been market leader in the Benelux for decades, with a strong position in north-west Germany. Following their mission to help people eat more vegetables and pulses, HAK launched, next to their iconic glass jar, a new, innovative packaging type for preserved vegetables with a line of legumes in stand-up pouches to reach new younger target groups and acquired chilled vegetables and meals manufacturer Peter van Halder, which incorporates foodservice and chilled production, and supply and innovation capability at HAK.

Quality as top priority HAK’s history dates back to the 1950s: the Hak family in Giessen owned a grocery store and decided to start a compa30  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

ny for preserved vegetables. The family were the first in the Netherlands to put food in glass jars instead of cans, improving its taste and making the high quality of HAK vegetables visible for the customer. From there, the brand took off, growing yearly and building on the same values held by HAK since the beginning: quality, transparency and vicinity. Their quality is ensured by the high standards HAK sets out for itself, checking every aspect of their product, from the moment of seeding, to the point where it ends up on the plate of the consumer. Every day a trained panel tastes whether the produced vegetables and pulses are of the right quality to deliver to the market.

Vegetables and pulses Nowadays HAK – still located in Giessen - is a heavyweight in the Dutch food industry, employing 200 people and reaching a turnover of 90 million euros. Though their apple sauce, red cabbage and beets in glass jars have been their most popu-

lar products for years, HAK’s pulses line is advancing fast. “At HAK, we are market leader in beans and pulses and we see how our eating habits have changed drastically throughout the years and will change in the future,” explains CEO Timo Hoogeboom. “The transition to vegetable proteins is an important and permanent shift in consumer behaviour. Pulses and beans are very healthy, contain a high amount of vegetable proteins and are friendly for the planet. For those reasons, it is the food of the future and comes in a handy, innovative stand-up pouch that is quite eye-catching in the supermarket. We value innovation at HAK enormously and try to come up with solutions to make the consumption of vegetables and pulses easier, such as our innovative 1-2 open cap.”

Growing local HAK grows its crops as close to Giessen as possible. Hoogeboom: “80 per cent of everything we distribute is grown in a ra-

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

dius of 125 kilometres around our headquarters so that they can be preserved as soon as possible after the harvest. It’s much more controllable and nothing escapes our attention. We employ several field managers who are completely up to date on the status of the harvest, its quality and quantity. However, some crops like chickpeas and lentils are impossible to grow here, so we get those from abroad, still with our high quality standards.”

High flexibility in chilled vegetables One of the most recent acquirements by HAK opens a lot of new possibilities for the company: chilled vegetables specialist Peter van Halder is now part of the HAK family and as one of the fastest growing

sectors in the food industry, it is a welcome addition for HAK to have the capability of serving high quality, fresh and chilled vegetables and meal solutions. “Through Peter van Halder we already supply fresh ingredients for Domino’s Pizza, Qizini and Salad Signature that are distributed to supermarkets and gas stations and we supply ingredients, components and meals for institutions, retail and foodservice. We can handle almost every request, like if and how it needs to be sliced, cooked or grilled beforehand. That’s the kind of flexibility and added value we aim for and will continue to do so.”

Green Kitchen Hoogeboom also explains how HAK works with ‘the green kitchen of HAK’. “We want

to help people eat vegetables and pulses by making it tasty, but also in a pure and healthy way. The principles of our Green Kitchen are guiding in growing and making our products as healthy and sustainable as possible. For example: all our innovations since 2014 have not contained any added sugar and we never use preservatives. In all our developments we use little salt and make our products tasty with spices and herbs. It’s very challenging, but very rewarding. We learn something new every day and have always worked with respect for Mother Earth. This is deeply rooted in the DNA of the Hak family, whose motto was: “living in dependency”. Web:

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Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

Botanical brewing is the future TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN  |  PHOTOS: LOWLANDER BEER

What comes to mind when you think of spices such as ginger and cinnamon? Or botanicals like elderflower? Perhaps not the first ingredients you would associate with beer? But Lowlander Beer, a young company already gaining popularity across the world, are changing that perception. Beer is one of the oldest drinks in the world, rooted in various different cultures. While neighbouring countries such as Belgium and Germany also have a rich history when it comes to beer, Frederik Kampman, founder and chief botanical officer at Lowlander Beer, realised it was time for Dutch brewing history to make a comeback. Or at least: have an update. “I tasted many experimental beers from all over the world, and I wondered why the Netherlands didn’t have something similar,” he begins. The question was harder to answer considering that in their day the Dutch were fine beer craftsmen themselves. Kampman: 32  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

“Beer from the Netherlands, translated literally into ‘the low lands’, was once known all over the world. These lowlanders travelled to the outskirts of the world and brought beer for their trips to sea.” Considering this, a brand name was born and an idea flourished. “I spent months thinking of different recipes and at the same time I learned about the use of botanicals, which I thought was interesting. Later, I discovered the lowlanders also used herbs and spices for their brewed beer.” Coincidence or not, for Kampman it was a definite sign his beer would have a base with these naturally occurring ingredients. But would people like it? “In August 2015 we let 200 people taste it and their feedback was so positive, I decided to quit my job to focus fully on Lowlander. I launched Lowlander Beer on 1 January 2016. A couple of days later the first bottle was sold.” It marked the beginning of an ever-evolving success story. Kampman now even has a team of six, one of them from

Scotland (of which Kampman says: “we brought a highlander to the low lands”) with a masters degree in brewing. But aside from the team’s combined knowledge, the magic eventually comes down to one thing: brewing unique beers that are full of both flavour and character. Lowlander Beer is available in various bars, restaurants and online, not only in the Netherlands, but also in a variety of countries including Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom. Frederik Kampman.


Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

A beer to be proud of TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: TROTS

Rotterdam is a proud city and so are its citizens - and they certainly have a lot to be proud of. But for Roy Zwolsman, there was always one thing missing: a beer made in the city. So he and his colleagues thought it was time to change that and started their own brewery: Trots, which means ‘pride’ in Dutch. “Whenever I visited ‘De Kuip’, the Feyenoord football club stadium, I found it weird that, especially there, they served a beer from Amsterdam (the hometown of rival team, Ajax). That had to be changed: De Kuip should serve beer made in Rotterdam,” asserts Zwolsman. So in 2013, he and three other students from the Hogeschool Rotterdam came up with the idea for Trots Beer Rotterdam. “We felt that our beer had to be made with input from the citizens of Rotterdam. We wanted to know what they wanted. So we asked them. And they answered!” smiles Zwolsman. In 2014, when they had established the brewery as a proper company,

winning the Rotterdam Starter award, it resulted in the first beer made in Rotterdam, for Rotterdam: Trots Blond beer. Since then, Trots Beer has become a real name in the city. “People got involved with us and started to be proud of our beer. And that is what Trots Beer is all about: Making beers that residents feel is part of them,” continues Zwolsman. “As you may know, Rotterdam is known for its handson mentality: It doesn’t have to be all that fancy, as long as it is good. That is exactly what our beers are about. We make really good beers that everyone can enjoy. They are honest; something to be proud of.” Trots produce two beers: the Trots Blond beer and Trots White beer. “We were looking for a third one, and we asked the people of Rotterdam what they wanted. It turns out they want a Tripel beer. So we will start production on that,” says Zwolsman. And it is not just the beers themselves the citizens have a say in. “They have also helped us design the glasses we serve Trots in.”

Trots beers are available mainly in Rotterdam and surrounding towns, both in liquor shops and in bars. “Trots beer is served in, amongst others, Bar Engels and Bar Restaurant Sijf, two of the main hotspots in town. And if you are in the famous Markthal, don’t forget to stop at the liquor shop to ask for and try Trots.” Soon the beers will also be available in a special gift package, ready to be shipped beyond Rotterdam. “Everybody can be proud, especially when you create something together. That is what Trots beer is about and what we will keep on doing.”


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Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

Outspoken, traditionally brewed beers from Zeeland TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: SLOT OOSTENDE

If the Dutch are good at one thing, it is brewing beer; from the more classic special beers, such as blonde or a tripel beer, to the more outspoken beers, such as double IPA or vanilla ice cream stout. At Slot Oostende Brewery in Goes, master brewer Jens van Stee always tries to create a beer with a little twist. “For a long time the province of Zeeland didn’t have its own brewery, something that was really missing here,” says Jens van Stee. “About two and a half years ago we changed that, when we started with Slot Oostende brewery; a traditional brewery with modern standards.” The brewery is situated in the old castle Slot Oostende in the centre of Goes. “This is probably the oldest built-up area of the city. The castle dates from the 13th century. You can see the authentic parts of the castle when you tour the brewery,” tells Van Stee. “We brew our beers in a traditional way, but of course we have all the modern technology to ensure the quality of the beers.” 34  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

At Slot Oostende, master brewer Van Stee brews two brands of beer: Slot Oostende and Emelisse. “Slot Oostende started when we opened the brewery. Emelisse was already a well-known craft beer that was originally brewed in Kamperland. We took over the production and we also create beers for that brand,” Van Stee explains. “They are two beers in their own right. Slot Oostende has a more classic style of beer, like a dark beer and a white beer. Emelisse is a bit more of an adventurous kind of beer, with new flavours added.”

emotions. After a hard day’s work, when you want to clear your mind and refresh, there is nothing better than a Smoked Rye IPA. But if you want to relax near the fireplace or with friends, a Gouden Gans tripel is the way to go. Thirsty yet?” You can visit Slot Oostende every day and take a guided tour of the brewery. “We have two guided tours on Saturday, which you can join. For bigger groups you can book a private tour. Meanwhile, don’t just read about our beers. Try them,” smiles Van Stee. “Ask for them. You won’t regret it!”

‘Smack in the face’ “For me, a beer has to ‘smack you in the face’, so to speak,” smiles Van Stee. “It really has to hit you when you taste it. That is my main drive when I’m creating a new beer. Even if it is inspired by another beer. Take our Dubbel Slot, for instance. It is drier than a traditional double beer, giving it its own unique taste.” For Van Stee there is not just one beer that is the best. “Beer is part of your


Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

Stennis and Gajes beers. Photo: Irene van der Meijs

Bruut Bier Brewers. Photo: Eric Los

Prize-winning craft beers with an ecological touch TEXT: SOFIE COUWENBERGH

With less than four years of professional brewing experience under their belts, Amsterdam locals Sander and Ward have already produced two award-winning speciality beers under the brand Bruut. Adding a modern twist to the beer tradition of neighbouring country Belgium, they are currently repurposing an Amsterdam industrial heritage site as an ecological brewing house and pub. In 2016, Bruut shook up the Dutch beer scene when its hoppy tripel Gajes was named ‘The Best Beer of the Netherlands’ in the Dutch Beer Challenge. The beer’s unique combination of an above average bitterness and a strong citrus flavour stood out and is still a favourite among the brewery’s fans. One year later, Bruut convinced the international beer scene as well, when its blonde Stennis took home the first prize in the Pale Ale & Amber Ale category at the Brussels Beer Challenge. “Brewing started as a hobby,” brewer Sander explains, “but we quickly stepped things up and got our education in

Belgium where we still frequently take courses to build our skills.” Bruut brews in line with the Belgian tradition of attention to balance but also tries to innovate by experimenting with flavours. “We want to differentiate ourselves from the still rather traditional Belgian beer market, while still staying true to its foundations,” Sander says. The beer brand does not just do that through flavours, but also by building an environment-friendly beer hub on the Amsterdam Cruquius Island. There, they are repurposing the industrial heritage site and former head offices of Oil Factory Insulinde into the Bruut Brewpub. “It will be a meeting place where people can enjoy locally-sourced snacks, wine, gin and of course - our Bruut beers,” Sander tells us. The connection to Amsterdam goes beyond the menu as works of local artists will decorate the walls and bands, poets and writers will regularly take to the stage. But there are plenty of beer-specific activities as well, as beer lovers will be able

to visit the small in-house brewery, attend tastings and follow workshops given by various zythologists. “The focus will be on quality,” Sander says, and that does not just go for the food and drinks. With the Brewpub, Bruut is building an almost entirely closed-circuit sustainable brewery that generates its own energy, recycles spent grains and repurposes produced heat. With their beers on tap all over Amsterdam, an enticing web store and nationwide distribution, Bruut has come a long way from the basement where it started, and it will go a lot further still. Bruut Bier site, Amvest.


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45 years of tasting, roasting and serving coffee TEXT: JULIËN L’ORTYE  |  PHOTOS: BOOT KOFFIE

“What we are aiming for is for our coffee to tell a very pure, distinct story,” begins Barend Boot. At his company Boot Koffie, which has been around for 45 years, you can be sure that he will live up to those expectations. At this place, they know the craft of roasting like no other. Also rather special is the time and effort they put in to connecting with the farmers. Barend wants his coffee to be ‘floating in your memory’, which is one of the reasons that his company, with a terrific web shop and a speciality coffee bar and roastery in Amersfoort, is so thoroughly focused on the quality of the beans they are selling. “We are doing our utmost to create an amazing flavour profile,” he continues. “It is about the roasting process, the buying process, going often to the farmer(s) to build up a relationship, everything.” Barend took over the business from his dad who, in the 60s, noticed that he had to blend several small coffees with a great taste, with bigger amounts of less tasting 36  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

coffee to get an acceptable melange. “He was quite a visionary,” Barend says. “He invented a small coffee roaster, called The Golden Coffeebox, which has been sold all over the world.” At Boot Koffie, the clients are actually pretty connected to the farmers where the beans come from: it may just happen that there are customers asking for the coffee from Maria from Panama. “We love personal contact and truly believe in longterm relationships, which is why we select our plantations ourselves, in order to keep in touch with the farmers.” Together with them, Barend and his team try to improve the farmers’ conditions of life. “In that way, you can enjoy the best, freshly roasted Arabica and they can enjoy the best education and housing.” What is also very special about Boot Koffie are the Speciality Coffeebar and Coffee Roastery, located in Amersfoort, where their customers can experience everything about the roasting process. “This is the only place in the Netherlands

where all our ‘speciality coffees’ can be ordered at the bar. Apart from that we are also selling our coffee and tea to companies and operating a coffee store in Baarn.” In other words: many opportunities for you to pay them a visit and taste the delicious coffee.

Speciality Coffeebar & Coffee Roastery: Oliemolenhof 90, 3812 PB, Amersfoort (approx. 50 kilometres from Amsterdam) Coffeestore: Laanstraat 49, 3743 BB, Baarn (approx. 35 kilometres from Amsterdam) Email: Web:

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

In the fairytale environment of pancake restaurant Hans & Grietje, guests can immerse themselves in a world of candy, magic and witchcraft.


During a visit to the Hans & Grietje restaurant in Zeewolde, guests from all over the world can taste delicious Dutch homemade pancakes whilst enjoying an interactive experience inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairytales in and around the location.

“And before you know it, you will have your neighbour’s pancake in front of you,” smiles co-owner of the restaurant Griet Dielissen. She and her husband Hans founded the restaurant together. Being named Hans and Griet, it did not take long for them to figure out the perfect name for the place.

tourists. There is no entrance price and parking is free. Everyone is welcome.

Nibble, nibble like a mouse. Who is nibbling at my house? With tables that can turn and floors that shake, the Hans & Grietje restaurant is not your typical Dutch pancake restaurant. It combines the best of the fairytale world of Hansel and Gretel with delicious sweet pancakes and a fun day out and about in the nearby forest.

When asked about the magical power of the restaurant, Dielissen explains: “We have a very special eye for detail. It is a must when you want to create the full fairytale experience for everybody.”

A day at Hans & Grietje is like spending the day inside a typical Dutch fairytale. With delicious pancakes and an unforgettable interactive experience, it is quite sure that once you pay a visit you will live happily ever after…

Walking into the restaurant is like walking into a real-life fairytale. Cheeky details, such as paintings from Old Dutch masters like Rembrandt with a supernatural twist, candy houses, and magic spells turn the place into a fairytale forest. Tables and floors will turn at your command.

Outside the restaurant there is a play garden, haystack and a go-kart track for youngsters. This spring the restaurant will open two huge candy slides and while sliding up and down, actual candy - such as delicious candy canes and lollipops - can be bought. Yet, the interactive restaurant is not just a play garden for children. It is an experience for everyone. The restaurant has special offers for companies as well as large groups of

With a special walking trail in the nearby forest, full of magical surprises along the way, you can enjoy a full day out at the Hans & Grietje restaurant.


Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  37

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

The cookie that flies around the world TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN  |  PHOTOS: PUNSELIE COOKIE COMPANY

Gouda is widely known for its cheese and city hall, but if you have ever flown with one of the major airlines in the Netherlands, chances are you have had a different slice of the Dutch city. That is because Gouda is also home to the Punselie Cookie Company; a family business famous for its take on the famous ‘stroopkoekjes’ and their ‘Punselie’s’, as their allergen-friendly cookies are called. The brand gained fans largely due to a distribution network that made sure the treat has been offered on board the airplanes of several airline companies such as KLM for more than 40 years.

Entering the Punselie Cookie Company is a delight in its own right: the sweet smell of syrup and dough waft through the building where boss Ronald Punselie’s team is capable of producing 40,000 cookies per hour. At 67, Ronald is the third generation Punselie and he literally grew up with his hands in the cookie goodness of which the taste never diverted. “We tried different flavours and had them tested at the annual Flight Attendant Conference, since they’re our number one fans. But no matter what we did: nothing beat the original.” But running a cookie company is unfortunately not all roses: the September 11 attacks

Making your brand delicious From an edible wrapper around a muffin to a note in a fortune cookie: the chances are you have come across the wafer paper made by Primus Wafer Paper at least once in your life. With more than 100 years of experience, this Dutch privately owned company is the world leader when it comes to edible branding. “From our factory in Oostzaan we distribute our products to more than 40 countries,” explains Wouter Smits, commercial director at Primus. “The Dutch potato is the best source in the world for wafer paper and our unique roll drying technology enables us to provide our product on rolls, so it is easy to use in all kinds of industries, from edible labels on bread or fruits, to packaging and decorations for pies and personalised cakes.” The wafer paper Primus produces is made of Dutch potato starch and is therefore 100 per cent sugar and gluten free. “Compared to icing sheets, wafer paper is more reliable for holding its shape or standing upright,” Smits continues. “The wafer paper is also quickly biodegradable 38  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

had an enormous impact on the airline industry and thus also on Punselie. After years of sheer perseverance Ronald fought off permanent closures and has all ducks in a row. Now he has the legacy of his company in mind. “I would love nothing more than to transform the current location into a museum, passing the baton to a younger generation who can continue my work as licensee in a new factory.”

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– breaking down within hours without impacting the environment.”

Make your own label More and more bakers are looking to personalise edible bread labels. “In our webshop we have about 30 standardised labels. But bakers can also upload their own design, which gives them an edge to differentiate themselves and

ensures fast delivery of personalised edible labels,” elaborates Smits. “Wafer paper is an excellent way to communicate with your customers. It is informative, fun and makes your brand truly remarkable!” Web:

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

Tastes and looks like chicken TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN  |  PHOTOS: OJAH

The meat analogue industry is booming: with many people agreeing that the meat industry weighs heavy on our carbon footprint and with animal rights in mind, the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular, and meat lovers might decide upon an alternative now and then. Especially now that some substitutes are nigh indistinguishable from the real thing. Ojah in the Dutch town of Ochten is responsible for a popular brand of soy-based imitation meat, combining know-how of biomaterials with the dream of a worldwide revolution. A ‘third generation meat analogue’ is how Frank Giezen from Ojah describes their ‘Beeter’ brand. A result of three smart minds: Giezen, Wouter Jansen and Jeroen Willemsen had their background in food engineering. Together, about ten years ago, the three came up with a unique process that turns soy proteins into a long, fibrous structure. By infusing it with water, they can regulate the tenderness of the meat-like

substance, creating a product that looks and tastes exactly like chicken and has the same nutritional value. The products are completely clean label and consist only of plant protein and water. Giezen: “Within a couple of years our ‘Beeter’ brand became a hit, not just in the Netherlands, but in other countries as well, where we export it as ‘Plenti’. Over here our product is sold through many supermarkets, wholesalers and to restaurants and catering companies. The demand has been so enormous we had to upscale to three production lines that are running 24 hours a day.” Giezen chuckles: “It’s crazy that we have to keep up with the demand for our product, but we kind of expected it; back when we started Ojah, we had the feeling this could become something very meaningful. We value sustainability and if we were able to create an alternative for chicken by using much less water, energy and raw materials, then that’s something to strive for.”

It comes as no surprise the company is already trying out new things. Proteins from yellow peas are being used as base for a substitute for beef, a product already being sold. Giezen: “We still have the same ambition as when we started: to become a world player on the meat analogues stage and have our products available to everyone. That’s a challenge, but one we’re seriously working on for the next 15 years.”


Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  39

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands


Grating cheese is something you probably have done sometime to enrich your pasta, homemade pizza or maybe your soup. But needing grated cheese on a large scale requires more than just spending hours and hours in the kitchen with a cheese grater. Enter Noordhoek Geraspte Kaas (‘geraspte kaas’ of course meaning ‘grated cheese’), one of the Netherlands’ larger professional cheese graters, situated in the town of Bodegraven and producing more than 15 million kilos of the stringy goodness annually. Noordhoek Geraspte Kaas started near the end of the last century when stallholders Tijmen Koelewijn and Cees Noordhoek joined hands. Cees already had 35 years of experience in the business of cheese. Cees and Tijmen met each other and decided to start a company specialised in the grating of cheese. Many bakers would grate the dairy product themselves, a time consuming process and one that Koelewijn and Noordhoek evaded by buying machinery that could grate on a large scale. What started as a factory producing 100 kilos of grated cheese per day, grew into a 40  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

fully-fledged business that can produce a whopping 60 metric tonnes per day.

test our product and we always come out strong. That’s because we set the bar high for ourselves and we’ll never lower it.”

“We grate, amongst others, Gouda, Edammer, Maasdammer, Emmenthaler, Mozzarella, Cheddar and Italian cheeses,” says Peter de Goede, commercial director at Noordhoek Geraspte Kaas. “We’re even able to mix things up, creating a mélange that can be of use to different food producers. Take, for example, a Tex Mex brand we work with: they had trouble with the melting properties and taste of their red cheddar cheese. We added Gouda and Edam to the mix and the end result was exactly how they wanted it.” De Goede continues: “That’s what defines Noordhoek Geraspte Kaas: we offer quality, flexibility and we can deliver fast.” The company works in accordance with hygiene standards and has all the necessary quality marks as defined by the overarching COKZ (central organisation for quality of dairy products). De Goede: “Having that quality mark means that we put nothing in our product that’s not on the label. The organisation does regularly unannounced checks a few times per year to

Commercial director Peter de Goede.


Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

Traditions and progress are the combination that make Boomsma Dry Gin


“Boomsma Dry Gin originates from many years of experience with herbs and genever, as well as the expansion of the Boomsma family company with an advanced copper pot still. The entire distillation process remains in our own hands.” Unlike most distilleries, Boomsma is still an independent family company. Saskia and Chantoine Boomsma are the fifth generation of Boomsma to run the company and they have big plans for the distillery. Saskia Boomsma: “With the modesty that comes with a traditional family company, we want to expand and develop the distillery. That’s why we introduced Boomsma Dry Gin.” The square bottle of the gin, with its quirky logo, is a nod to the 1920s and symbolises the rich history of the company, yet it still fits in with the interior of the hippest bars around the Netherlands. Even though design is important these days, most important for Saskia and Chantoine Boomsma is the taste, especially in an era

where some bars have more gins on the menu than wines. During distillation a rigorous selection is made from the middle reaches. The heads and tails with the heavy and unpleasant tones are removed in order to obtain the best distillate. The result is one hundred percent aromatic and tasteful. It is the unique combination of twelve botanicals including angelica, licorice, blessed thistle, gentian root, centaury and laurel, which give Boomsma Dry Gin its own fresh, herbal aroma and soft, full flavour. Saskia & Chantoine Boomsma fifth generation.


Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

More than just candy, it is a treat TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: PERFETTI VAN MELLE

Many journeys, whether for a holiday or for business, begin at the airport. It is the place where you have time to browse the shops and unwind. What better way to do that than with the best candy in the world? “Candy makes you happy and our Mentos candy and gum helps you share that joy,” smiles Susan de Vree, travel retail director at Perfetti Van Melle. Candy is not just about eating it, it is an experience: “We want to create smiles amongst travellers all over the world. That does not just mean having the best candy for customers, but also spreading joy when displaying them. When families are browsing we want them to feel that they are ‘in the candy shop’ so to speak - having a good time and enjoying themselves,” explains De Vree. That is why the displays are much more interactive, so that children truly experience the joy that Mentos want to share. “We have different 42  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

kinds of displays, where they can play and fully enjoy the holiday spirit.

mostly fruity ones, and are perfect as a present for a loved one.”

All around the world

Sharing the joy

Mentos has been around since 1932 and is known all over the world. It was created by Van Melle, who in 2001 joined forces with Perfetti, an Italian company that produces famous brands and the best chewing gum. In 2006 they acquired the Chupa Chups company, known for their delicious lollipops.

As much as candy is a treat for ourselves, it is even more fun to share, because it connects people. “Saying ‘hello’ is a common social gesture that is known worldwide. But with today’s technology, people tend to communicate less with each other in real life. By sharing something, such as candy, people start to talk again. That is why we have created the Mentos Connecting Tin,” says De Vree. The Connecting Tin itself, and the dragées, are decorated with the word ‘hello’ in 30 different languages, and with different landmarks from all over the world. “It is a good icebreaker to start a conversation with somebody. You will be introduced to new cultures, all the while enjoying candy together.”

“Our candy, mints and gum are available in more than 180 countries. You will find Mentos and Chupa Chups at every airport,” continues De Vree. “No matter where you are, candy is a treat that brings a smile to everyone’s face. That is why we have an exclusive range of products at airports, like the Mentos Jumbo Rolls or our Mega Chups, both an explosion of our iconic and well-known products. These come in all kinds of flavours,


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Discover Benelux  |  Cultural heritage  |  Castles in the Benelux

Photo: Vianden Castle/Jengel


Captivating castles in Belgium and Luxembourg With beautiful countryside, picturesque villages and regal châteaux, Belgium and Luxembourg are home to some of Europe’s most fairytale-like landscapes. Here, we present some of the most captivating castles these two countries have to offer.

DO NOT MISS: Château de Vianden Constructed between the 11th and 14th century, Luxembourg’s magnificent Vianden Castle is a must-visit for history buffs and families alike. Château d’Useldange If you are curious about what it was like to live in medieval Luxembourg, the free and remarkably original exhibitions at Château d’Useldange will do the trick. Château de Namur The town of Namur in Belgium is well known for its medieval castle. Less than a stone’s throw away you will find the stunning Château de Namur hotel and restaurant. Château de Beloeil A real gem in Belgium’s Hainaut province is the Château de Beloeil, which has been the residence of the Belgian Princes de Ligne since the 14th century.

Photo: ASBL Fonds Château de Beloeil

Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  45

Discover Benelux  |  Cultural heritage  |  Castles in the Benelux


Constructed between the 11th and 14th century, Luxembourg’s magnificent Vianden Castle is a must-visit for history buffs and families alike. Perfectly illustrating the transition between Romanesque and Gothic architecture, the castle also hosts a range of fascinating temporary exhibitions and festivals, with the most famous being the annual Medieval Festival, this year taking place between 28 July - 5 August. Discover Benelux decided to find out more about the Grand Duchy’s most important medieval monument. Vianden Castle’s history has been tumultuous to say the least, something which is reflected in its remarkable architecture. Until the beginning of the 15th cen46  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

tury it was home to the mighty Counts of Vianden, ancestors of the House of Orange-Nassau, In 1417, the county and the castle were bequeathed by inheritance to the younger branch of the (German) Nassau house and in 1820, under the reign of William I of Orange-Nassau, the castle was sold, falling into a state of ruin. “In 1890 Grand Duke Adolphe of the Nassau dynasty took ownership of the castle, and from that date it remained the property of the Grand Ducal family,” explains Jessica Ersfeld, chief of staff at Vianden Castle. “It was not until 1977 that the State of Luxembourg purchased the castle, restoring it to its former glory.” The most remarkable pieces of the castle are the chapel and the two seigniorial

lodgings, which were realised towards the end of the 12th until the beginning of the 13th century. Architecture aficionados will appreciate that Vianden Castle also displays a Byzantine influence, which is particularly rare for the region and highlights the castle’s significance in Europe.

A superb visitor experience

With such a rich history and impressive architecture it would be easy for Vianden Castle to rest on its laurels, but the castle is continually innovating and coming up with exciting ideas to enhance the visitor experience. Recently opened is a new didactic museum, housing a permanent exhibition on the site, its development and the many phases of construction and deconstruction of the castle. Covering two

Discover Benelux  |  Cultural heritage  |  Castles in the Benelux

levels and with ten different areas, the expo is suspended above fascinating archaeological remains. “Visitors follow the ancient walkway before arriving at a large audio-visual projection, where the museum visit concludes,” adds Ersfeld. There is also a tavern for enjoying drinks and snacks on site, and do not forget to pay the gift shop a visit. “You can find a range of souvenirs to remind you of your visit to the castle.”

Unmissable events

A haven of culture, Vianden Castle hosts all manner of exhibitions throughout the year. Events on the 2018 programme range from a piano concert taking place this month to an expo dedicated to Vianden’s international caricature and cartoon competition in May.

Looking through the packed programme, Ersfeld picks out the brand new event Portae temporis - les portes du temps (the doors of time) as one not to be missed. “We wanted to create a new event that would appeal to people with a real passion for history and medieval times in particular,” she enthuses. Scheduled for 2 - 3 June, the event will take visitors back in time, with knights, ladies, soldiers and servants populating the caste. Expect costumes, music and other spectacles, as the castle presents an evolution across the centuries. “The castle was built over several centuries and so we wanted to create an event that presented several epochs,” adds Ersfeld. “Visitors will travel from the 12th to the 18th century and will meet representatives from each era in their respective environment.”

Luxembourg’s greatest medieval show The highlight of the Vianden Castle calendar has to be the annual Medieval Festival. Taking place from 10am till 7pm over nine days from 28 July - 5 August, the 17th edition of the famous event promises to be as spectacular as ever. Medieval life will return to the castle, with everything from battle demonstrations, musicians and fire-eaters to jugglers, birds of prey presentations, acrobats and calligraphy demonstrations. In addition to all the entertainment there is also a medieval market where shoppers can pick up beautiful crafts and foodie delights. Amid the spectacular backdrop of Vianden Castle, the event is a truly not to be missed! Web:

Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  47

Discover Benelux  |  Cultural heritage  |  Castles in the Benelux

See, feel and smell the Middle Ages TEXT: SONJA IRANI  |  PHOTOS: CHÂTEAU D’USELDANGE

If you are curious about what it was like to live in medieval Luxembourg, the free and remarkably original exhibitions at Château d’Useldange will do the trick. Two towers are what remain of the former fortress, which now host two fascinating exhibitions. One tells the history of the fortress itself, which roughly spans a time period from the ninth until the 19th century. The other displays all about daily life in the Middle Ages. The exhibition that the Castle of Useldange is most famous for, however, is its so-called

culture trail. Comprising 16 stops, this trail has been specifically designed to meet the needs of visually impaired guests. With information boards that can be palpated as well as audio presentations at every stop, the culture trail was developed under the patronage of UNESCO. “The first stop on the trail is an underground crypt which hosts a touchable model of the fortress,” explains castle representative Tom Lehnert. “Examples of other stops include wayside crosses from all over Luxembourg, a display of the local birds, an exhibition about a

local witch trial as well as a vegetable, fruit and herb garden. Here, our visitors can even smell the Middle Ages.” The highlight of the time-travelling activities at Château d’Useldange is the weekend-long Medieval Festival at the beginning of June. In Useldange, nature is never far away either. The many local hiking and bicycle paths, as well as the river Attert, offer a great way to relax and recharge your batteries. Web:

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48  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

of the French Embassy in Luxembourg 47, avenue Monterey – L-2163 Luxembourg

Discover Benelux  |  Cultural heritage  |  Castles in the Benelux

Feel the ‘wow factor’ at Château de Namur TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTOS: CHÂTEAU DE NAMUR

The historic town of Namur in Belgium’s Wallonia region may be best known for its medieval castle, but less than a stone’s throw away you will find the stunning Château de Namur hotel and restaurant. The haute-cuisine restaurant, incorporating Belgium’s top school for chefs, is a destination experience in itself whilst the hotel has recently undergone a lavish one and a half million euro renovation. The 29 newly refurbished rooms feature a glamorous, highly contemporary mix of golds, chocolate browns and damask motifs combined with designer furnishings and bedding, whilst retaining the original period features of the château – such as high ceilings and cornicing. The lighting system is also state-of-theart. Whether guests are feeling ready for love and romance, geared up for a day of business or simply looking for relaxation, they can choose their own ambience according to their mood. “We want guests to feel the ‘wow’ factor in our rooms,” says hotel manager Cédric

Vandervaeren, “and to remember their time here for the quality of their experiences, not just how big the bathrooms are or whether the room was spacious.”

Belgian produce, the menu features innovative interpretations of classic French cuisine with an emphasis on nutritional balance, well-being and sustainability.

The creative wizardry continues with a screen in each room which designs your own personalised work of psychedelic, op-art-style abstract art, complete with changing colours. No two works of art are ever the same and if guests would like to keep their design, this can be arranged.

There is also an added attraction. Alongside the expert professional staff, students from the high-level, in-house catering school are busy learning their trade. As tantalisingly sweet, citrusy crêpes suzettes are flambéed at your table, you can enjoy the fact that your chef for today may well be the superstar of tomorrow.

Another quirky touch is the surreally decadent gilt frame on the wall of each room. Like a 21st century take on a work by Duchamp, behind the glass there is a bottle of champagne and two glasses. A door in the glass – which is specially refrigerated, can be opened and a small message in the frame reads: “In case of emotional emergency, open the door and drink this champagne.” The elegant hotel restaurant meanwhile, with its spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, is equally memorable. Using the freshest, seasonal, local

Web: homepage

Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  49

Discover Benelux  |  Cultural heritage  |  Castles in the Benelux



Sometimes the best treasures are not necessarily in the most obvious places. This is certainly the case in Belgium, where tucked away in the Hainaut region, to the south of Brussels, lies one of Europe’s most spectacular castles. Known as ‘the Versailles of the North’, the magnificent Château de Beloeil is surrounded by a moat amidst more than 60 acres of parkland complete with lakes and ornamental gardens created by a student of André Le Nôtre - designer of Louis XIV’s gardens at Versailles. Originally built as a Medieval fortress, the Château has been the residence of the Belgian Princes de Ligne since the 14th century and although it is open to the public, it is still home to the current, 14th Prince – Michel. The Château’s lavish interiors house not only priceless tapestries and antiques but also a superb art collection. Paintings date from the 15th to 19th century and include royal portraits by renowned German court painter F.X Winterhalter. There 50  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

is also a vast, wood-panelled library with some 20,000 books. One of the highlights of the year at the Château is the annual Amaryllis Flower Festival – from 28 April to 6 May 2018 (open daily from 10am till 6pm). Held in conjunction with the famous Keukenhof tulip gardens in Holland, this spectacularly colourful event showcases around 10,000 artistic flower displays and installations ranging in style from traditional to contemporary. August 18 will also see the return of Les Féeries de Beloeil – the Château’s muchloved night of illuminations, music and fireworks, this year with choreography and staging by celebrated Belgian artistic director Luc Petit, known for his work with the likes of Jean-Paul Gaultier and Disney. Throughout the rest of the year, the Château is a wonderful place to while away an afternoon, admiring the sumptuous interiors and ornate gardens. “What I find special about Beloeil, says His Highness the Prince de Ligne, “is the beauty, the peace and tranquility here.”

The Château is open to the public at weekends and Bank Holidays in April, May, June and September, from 1pm till 6pm. In July and August, it opens daily from 1pm till 6pm. Group guided tours are available in English, French, Dutch and German. Beloeil’s richly furnished drawing rooms can also be hired out for events, with space for 100 people whilst the library, conference room and chapel lend a unique grandeur to conferences, gala dinners, receptions or theatrical performances.


© Photo: R. Clement

Welcome in the Upper Sûre Nature Park, the water region of Luxembourg! Tourism and nature protection, an harmonic interaction. The Upper Sûre Nature Park comprises 5 communes and is situated around the Upper Sûre Reservoir in the northwest of Luxembourg. This lake supplies 70 % of the Luxembourgish households with drinking water and is therefore especially protected. Enjoy the diverse and harmonic landscape with its huge diversity in flora and fauna.

1 2

Interactive Nature Park exhibition


Nature discovery tours with the solar boat on the lake

Textile museum (Cloth factory), Tourist Information and shop with local products

Nature Parc Centre / Cloth factory 15, route de Lultzhausen L-9650 Esch-sur-Sûre, Luxembourg +352 89 93 31-1


3 2

52  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Lyne Renée

LY N E R E N É E :

In deep conversation She may be a Belgium native, but you would not know it from looking at multilingual actor Lyne Renée’s résumé. From Israeli to American, the talented star has convincingly portrayed a host of different nationalities on both stage and screen, with her latest role in Fox Network Group’s television drama Deep State seeing her portray Frenchwoman Anna Easton. Set to hit screens worldwide this spring on 12 March, the espionage thriller tells the story of Max Easton (played by Mark Strong), a retired Secret Service operative who is lured back into the field to try and shut down an Iranian missile program. Keen to know more, Discover Benelux caught up with the 38-year-old star to discuss the eagerly anticipated drama. Smart, eloquent and extremely passionate about her craft, we predict even bigger things for Renée this year. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: BOBBY QUILLARD

“When I read the part of Anna, I couldn’t wait to play her. I couldn’t wait to fill her in,” begins Renée when asked about her role portraying the wife of Strong’s character in Deep State. “It’s so lovely to get a script with a female role that carries such opportunity – to show strength, to show vulnerability, to show so many different emotions. She basically goes through an emotional rollercoaster: you see her presumably perfect life come crumbling down.”

The writing that is out there is changing and it’s becoming more authentic,” she points out. “You know, I love our superheroes but we also need to see what’s out there and what’s happening today. If these stories can be told – that’s amazing. I have to say, I’m happy to be where I’m at in my career today and playing Anna now. I don’t think I could have played her ten years ago. It’s been a quite a tough shoot but it has brought so much.”

Challenging roles

‘Femme française’

An alumna of Antwerp’s Studio Herman Teirlick, Renée began her career in the early 2000s, initially making a name for herself as a stage actor in Belgian theatres. She has since worked on both sides of the pond, recently appearing in movies including critically acclaimed U.S. psychological thriller Split and last year’s hit British comedy The Hippopotamus. “I’ve noticed that more and more interesting female characters are popping up these days.

A major challenge facing Renée in Deep State was mastering the French accent – her character Anna is a native Parisian. “All of a sudden I was presented with 50 per cent of my scenes being in French,” she recalls. “Yes, I speak French, but I’ve been away for 12 years and it’s unbelievable how quickly one loses a language. I was terrified! I was like, ‘Lyne, come on. You can do this!’ I started studying really hard and I don’t think I’ve ever prepped

more for any other part than this one. It paid off though – doing a job and being bilingual is just an amazing experience.” In fact, Renée speaks five languages, a skill which she believes has been particularly useful in her career as an actor. “When you grow up in Belgium you get four languages thrown at you in school before the age of 14. As a child you kind of go; ‘Oh no! Not another language…’, but now I’m like; ‘Yes!’. It’s been such a gift. As an actor it’s important to have a good ear for mastering different accents and the ability to speak multiple languages helps you to do just that.” What has been the trickiest accent Renée has had to master in her career so far? “Definitely American!” she smiles. “Speaking all these romantic languages, we use the front of our mouth when we speak. But with American everything is used in the back of your mouth. It was such a Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  53

Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Lyne Renée

technical adjustment I had to make, and I sounded so different. I was like; ‘Is that me?’. I had to get used to it. That was the toughest one.”

Nomadic lifestyle Renée travels a great deal for her work, with her role in Deep State taking her to locations including Morocco and London. “Filming in the Atlas mountains in Morocco was absolutely stunning and then London was completely different: we got the best of both worlds.” Having spent several years based in New York after living in both Los Angeles and London, the actor is now looking forward to a more nomadic lifestyle. “I’m finally getting to a point in my career where I’m not in one place much. I get to travel and see the world, which is absolutely amazing. I thought to myself: why am I holding on to places? I don’t need to be in one place anymore, I’m free to go where life and work takes me. So I let go of my flat in New York and, yeah, it was scary at the time – but it’s been the most freeing thing I’ve done. It’s such a sense of liberty,” she 54  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

enthuses. “Then, the time that I have off, I get to see my family. When you’ve been away for a long time, all of a sudden you realise that you need to grab every moment that you have together. I’ve now rented a flat in London again for six months as per the release of Deep State and then after that I’ll see what life will throw my way. I trust what is to come...”

A storyteller Family is a big deal for Renée, who cites her grandmother as an early inspiration for her passion for acting. “I fell in love with her storytelling at a very early age, when she used to read us stories,” remembers the star. “A story, whether a movie or a photograph, or a piece of music, can make people forget everything – even if it’s just for a split moment. If I can do that with my audience then I’m satisfied, because that’s where the magic lies for me. To move people by telling stories.” So what will be the next story for Renée to tell? The actor still has a long list of direc-

tors she hopes to work with one day. “I’m constantly inspired,” she grins. “I could go from country to country naming directors. There’s so much talent out there…I just hope I get to work with the people that will inspire, to tell great and important stories that I’d very much like to be a part of.”

Big dreams And could we ever see Renée making the move behind the camera? Perhaps not yet. “Well, before I move behind the camera I hope I still get to do a lot in front of it,” she concludes. “I have big dreams and have always envisaged myself as someone who will find a way to push my own limits. I hope that I will continue to be inspired by my heroes and heroines and hopefully one day to inspire those who came after me. I love what I do and take my passion very seriously – it’s a craft.”

Keep up-to-date with Lyne Renée via Instagram: @Lynerenee

Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Lyne Renée

Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  55

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Column






2018 could be the year I stop being just boringly British. One of my reactions to the UK’s EU referendum result was resentment that my European identity was being threatened. So, like tens of thousands of others, I decided to try and obtain dual nationality. I do not have an Irish grandparent, but I do have a French wife and three halfFrench children. I have lived in France and speak French, so I applied for French citizenship. I think it is hard for nationalists to understand how lightly some other people wear their nationality. Students of intercultural communication will be familiar with the notion of the culture onion – that the identity of each one of us comprises a unique combination of different layers of culture. Nationality is certainly important for many, but you may also be shaped by your local, regional, ethnic, professional, corporate, family, political, religious, socio-economic and other identities. Allegiance to and the influence of some of these can be much more powerful markers of who you are than which passport you carry. 56  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

It can be an interesting exercise to draw your own onion with different thicknesses showing the different degrees of importance of each layer, and to compare your culture onion with those of friends and colleagues.

And I will enjoy one huge practical advantage. People with UK passports are going to get awfully frustrated having to wait in the non-EU queue when trying to enter one of the EU countries a majority of them voted to abandon.

I wonder about the relevance of the 1,000-year-old concept of the nation state to the 21st century. Certainly, national governments are doing a poor job of resisting the power of multinational companies. Our challenge is to manage the shifting balance between nation states, city regions as basic units of governance, and supranational organisations like the EU which should safeguard our collective interests in the global geopolitical sphere. We also need to help people come to terms with these new realities. I am now waiting to hear whether Monsieur Macron has accepted my application. He has a year to decide. I feel proud and excited about the possibility of becoming French, and not only because supporting the French football team is likely to be less painful than watching England’s team lose to Iceland again.

Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, based in Malta, who helps people develop their communication and leadership skills for working internationally:

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Calendar


form for discussion on sustainability and quality within the cocoa sector. Participate in a debate together with stakeholders from all over the world representing the entire cocoa chain.

Photo: I amsterdam & Roel Backaert

The European 5G Conference 12 – 13 February Brussels, Belgium Focussing on aspects such as connectivity, use cases and deployment models, this two-day event will bring together high-level stakeholders to meet and discuss the roadmap ahead as we continue the journey towards the Gigabit Society.

European Testing Conference 19 – 20 February Amsterdam, the Netherlands Testing is important. This conference is about getting experts and practitioners together to talk, learn and practice the art of testing in every thinkable area – from digital to medical. The conference looks into advanced new methods into making testing more effective, as well as enriching our understanding of fundamental methods to grow a stronger community.

and tech event on the future of innovation, design and everything cool in between. Join your fellow digital creators to hear world renowned speakers talk design, development, creativity and much more.

Chocoa Conference 24 - 25 February Amsterdam, the Netherlands What are the new trends and developments for ensuring a sustainable cocoa supply chain? This event provides a plat-

Anido 25 – 26 February Kortrijk, Belgium Anido is renowned as a unique, professional meeting place for the whole pet care sector in the Benelux and Northern France. The chance to network and discover the latest innovations attracts the likes of pet shop owners, dog breeders and other professionals from the industry.

ITAS 27 February – 1 March Luxembourg City, Luxembourg The International Transfer Agency Summit is a one-stop-shop for meeting and learning from those in the know. Taking to the stage during the event are leading transfer agents, asset managers, fund distributors, regulators and technological innovators. Photo: Anido

FITC 19 - 20 February Amsterdam, the Netherlands Now in its 11th year, FITC Amsterdam returns to host the groundbreaking design Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  57

Discover Benelux  |  Business Profile  |  Pharmaspray

Combining innovation, service, and technology TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: PHARMASPRAY

Pharmaspray is a contract manufacturer that develops, produces and fills aerosol products. Being active in the sector since 2003, the Veendam-based company has been a trusted partner for the medical, pharmaceutical and veterinary industry for more than 15 years, always honouring its pillars of quality, safety, and service. Sprays to ease your sports injury, get rid of your warts, or help your partner stop snoring: you might never have wondered where they come from, but they are essential for a better quality of life. Dutch company Pharmaspray produces these products in collaboration with their clients: the world’s top companies in the (semi) 58  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

medical, pharmaceutical and veterinary industry, among others. Pharmaspray stands for an ever-excellent end product, whereby top-notch technology and strict safety standards are put in the high seat.

Partner in unburdening Every year Pharmaspray produces millions of aerosols for their clients, which are then distributed under the clients’ own brand. The end product is partially or fully developed by Pharmaspray: either a client already delivers the product to fill the aerosol products with, or develops it in collaboration with Pharmaspray. “We do more than filling spray cans,” smiles Jan Erik Strootman, operations manager at Pharmaspray. “Whatever kind of product

a client has in mind, we can take care of it from A to Z. It starts with an idea, after which we select the raw materials for the product, create it in our lab, and finally apply our aerosol technology. We even take care of the packaging and distribution. We take the work out of the hands of our clients – we fully unburden them.” Pharmaspray is an independent part of the Mobacc Group. For more than 35 years now, the Mobacc Group has been one of the top companies in the European aerosol industry in the field of developing and filling aerosol products in the technical industries which are marketed in the B2B business under private label. Pharmaspray focuses on medical

Discover Benelux  |  Business Profile  |  Pharmaspray

devices, veterinary medicines, food, and cosmetics. Today, Pharmaspray employs 27 people working in very different fields: high care production, supported by laboratory technicians, biomedical scientists, and pharmacists. While Mobacc was founded in 1982 and is privately owned, founded and still managed by the Schott family, Pharmaspray was launched as a separate entity in 2003, when business was expanding and new high-tech plants were opened for the various applications of the aerosol technology. “Before – and some companies still do it that way – our production for a wart remover spray took place next to the production for bicycle-chain spray. Not the best mix,” Strootman explains. Sustainability is an essential part of Pharmaspray’s philosophy, and stands at the core of all development, production and transport of its products. Measurements such as developing an Eco product line (which contain less or no harmful substances or solvents), expanding the selection of waterborne products and reducing energy consumption in the plants all contribute to Mobacc’s overall sustainable policy.

State of the art facilities All products are developed and produced in Pharmaspray’s hi-tech plant in the Netherlands’ Veendam, where production lines are equipped with the newest technology for aerosol filling, which ensures a stable and consistent production process. Pharmaspray’s facilities meet with the most stringent demands regarding product quality and production safety. “When you work with such sensitive products, safety is essential,” Strootman continues. “Quality and safety within our factory is our main priority. This is clearly defined by our management. The drive to be the best is translated into the layout of our production facility, our quality manual and quality policy. Our aim is to be in compliance with the applicable quality standards and legislation on the highest level possible.” Pharmaspray is in possession of several certification levels which are complementary to each other. The daily operation is performed according to the right standards which ensure a full traceability, high safety and quality of the products. Quality manuals ensure a high standard of operation and the production areas are subject to a planned maintenance and cleaning program. Raw material inspection, line

clearance and product separation ensure a minimum risk in defects and an absence of mix-ups. Every production step taken is registered in a Batch Manufacturing Record, which ensures full traceability for the used packaging materials and raw materials. Every production batch is reviewed before leaving the door, and documentation and reference samples are kept as long as needed and related documentation are stored for a minimum of five years. And the support does not stop at the door. “We work with a lot of big trading companies, who often prefer to outsource a lot of their activities,” Strootman concludes. “Excellent logistics are a vital ingredient for guaranteeing the freshness and traceability of orders. That consists of more than just transporting a product from A to B: it concerns the entire supply chain.”

Web: 9640 AH Veendam The Netherlands +31 - (0)598 - 626 666

Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  59

Discover Benelux  |  Business Profile  |  Centre de Yoga - La Source

Rediscover your natural rhythm TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: CENTRE DE YOGA - LA SOURCE

The demands of modern life can lead to endless stress, which in turn can cause poor judgment, exhaustion, and illness. But what if you took time to reconnect to your natural rhythm via yoga and meditation? As Denise Pesch and Fredric Bender, owners and teachers at Centre de Yoga - La Source in Luxembourg, explain, the physical and psychological effects are abundant. “Yoga is a wonderful spiritual path which enables the practitioner to feel inspired, mentally clear and blissful. One feels connected and in harmony with the environment, so perceptions are less likely to trigger a stress response,” explains Fredric, who has been a devoted yogi for many years now. He started practising aged 23, recalling how his first class was so uplifting that it felt like an ‘out-of-body experience’. Denise, who has been affectionately described as Luxembourg’s ‘grande dame of yoga’, is equally enthusiastic. “I attended my first class at 16 when there were very few yoga classes in Luxembourg,” 60  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

she recalls and remembers the deeply spiritual experience. “I knew straight away I would continue with yoga my whole life! Now I’m 66 and I still love practicing and teaching. I feel the benefits every day.” La Source offers a range of different Hatha Yoga styles which involve physical postures, breathing techniques and other practices to strengthen body and mind. Also popular are pregnancy yoga and lower back yoga. The latter comprises exercises to eliminate stiffness and alleviate Frequent traveller? Follow Denise and Fredric’s steps to achieving in-flight relaxation: - Feel your seated posture - Place the feet parallel on the floor - Place the knees over the ankles, thighs sinking into the seat

pain, and is the perfect antidote to sitting behind a desk all day. Ready to see how yoga can benefit your health? La Source offers classes of varying lengths, ranging from 60 minutes to two hours. All teachers at the centre stay true to ancient yoga traditions, allowing pupils to experience a blissful state, free from stress and full of renewed vitality! Web:

- In a slow, steady rhythm: Relax the feet…ankles…calves…knees… thighs…pelvis…back…abdomen… chest…hands…arms…shoulders… neck…face…jaws…temples - Relax the lungs…heart…brain… whole body - Inhale naturally…Exhale naturally…

- Maintain the spine straight and relaxed, shoulders relaxed and head balanced

- Continue calmly. Rediscover your natural rhythm

- Close the eyes

- Open the eyes gently




Four starHAMPSHIRE hotel with 120 luxury rooms. HOTEL Four star hotel with 120 luxury rooms. star hotel with 120centre luxury rooms. The hotelFour is located in the of Leiden, The hotel is located in the centre of Leiden, The hotel is located in the centre of Leiden, next to the Central Station and has a sufficient next to next the to Central Station and the Central Station andhas has aa sufficient sufficient parking below the hotel. Ideal for a parkingdirectly directly below thethe hotel. parking directly below hotel.Ideal Ideal for for aa weekend getaway or corporate stay. weekend getaway or corporate stay. weekend getaway or corporate stay.

VITAE WELLNESSRESORT Wellnessresort Leiden is a luxurious beauty

VITAE WELLNESSRESORT WELLNESSRESORT and wellnessresort located on the 11th and

Wellnessresort Leiden isisaasauna luxurious Wellnessresort Leiden luxurious beauty 12th floor. Enjoy the numerous and beauty WELLNESS wellness facilities which give you the ‘WOW’ and wellnessresort located on the 11th wellnessresort located on the 11thand and feeling enhanced by the fabulous view of the 12th floor. floor. Enjoy Enjoy the thenumerous numeroussauna saunaand and city of Leiden. Unique in its kind and WELLNESS WELLNESS facilities which give you the ‘WOW’ wellness facilities which give you the ‘WOW’ unparalleled allure. feeling enhanced feeling enhanced by bythe thefabulous fabulousview viewofofthe the city of Leiden. Unique in its kind and city of Leiden. Unique in its kind and unparalleled allure. unparalleled allure.

CONFERENCE & EVENT CENTRE CEC Leiden offers plenty of opportunities as a venue for medium-sized conferences CONFERENCE and events. A location with many possibilities & EVENTS in decoration, preparation and catering. CONFERENCE & EVENT CENTRE Excellent service and good communication:



CEC Leiden plenty of opportunities makingoffers each event successful! CEC Leiden offers plenty of opportunities as a venue for medium-sized conferences as a venue for medium-sized conferences and events. A location with many possibilities and events. A location with many possibilities in decoration, preparation and catering. in decoration, preparation and catering. Excellent service and good communication: Excellent service and good communication: making each event successful! RESTAURANT TWELVE making each event successful! Twelve Restaurant is the restaurant with the most beautiful panorama view of Leiden. The modern bar, facing the west,


offers you a view of the dune heads of the North Sea beach. It is possible to reserve the restaurant exclusively for groups.

RESTAURANT TWELVE RESTAURANT Twelve Restaurant is TWELVE the restaurant with Twelve Restaurant is the restaurant the most beautiful panorama view of with FITLAND XL LEIDEN l IN THE LEVEL BUILDING AND NEXT TO CS LEIDEN the mostThe beautiful of Leiden. modernpanorama bar, facingview the west, Bargelaan 180 l 2333 CW Leiden l + 31 (0) 71 870 02 60 l offers you a view of the dune heads of the Leiden. The modern bar, facing the west, l North Sea It isthe possible to reserve offers you abeach. view of dune heads of the


the restaurant exclusively for groups. North Sea beach. It is possible to reserve

the restaurant exclusively for groups.

FITLAND XL LEIDEN l IN THE LEVEL BUILDING AND NEXT TO CS LEIDEN Bargelaan 180 l 2333 CW Leiden l +BUILDING 31 (0) 71 870AND 02 60 l FITLAND XL LEIDEN l IN THE LEVEL NEXT TO CS LEIDEN l Bargelaan 180 l 2333 CW Leiden l + 31 (0) 71 870 02 60 l

Level Leiden

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Profile

À Table, page 68.


No event too big or small Want to ensure your next event is one to remember? From company team-building to slick conferences and unique parties, we showcase Belgium’s top events specialists.

3Square Read more from page 63 3Square’s meeting centres in Ghent and Limelette focus solely on offering clients the best business facilities possible - with a culinary cherry on top.

À TABLE Read more from page 68 From private parties to weddings and business events, Ben Roggeman from À Table Events will create a picture perfect setting for your next special occasion.

Moodmaker Read more from page 72 Moodmaker helps to achieve a positive vibe among co-workers via a wide range of inspiring team building events.

Inventus Group Read more from page 64 With two flexible venues, a catering company and a booking agency all under one roof, the Inventus Group is a a highly recommendable partner for events organising.

TMAB Business Events Read more from page 69 With more than 35 years of experience and prestigious international clients, TMAB has proven itself to be more than just a helping hand for organising conferences.

Balthazar Events Read more from page 73 Balthazar invents, creates and executes carefully customised events for its corporate and private clients.

Seauton International Read more from page 66 Seauton is an expert in the organisation of national and international meetings, incentives, congresses and events.

62  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

Living Tomorrow Read more from page 70 Via presentations, trend predictions, connecting people and helping realise future-proof projects, the way we will live in the future is the core business of Living Tomorrow.

Panama Events Read more from page 74 With its own graphic design department, production facilities and logistics department, Panama Events can organise an event from A to Z.

Discover Benelux  |  Events Special  |  The Best Event Agencies and Locations in Flanders

3Square Brabant-Wallon

A place to work, network and not work TEXT: SOFIE COUWENBERGH  |  PHOTOS: EVA VAN DE VEIRE

Convention centres and meeting rooms are often cold and rather dull places, deprived from daylight and tucked away in the corners of hotels that could not be used for sleepover guests. Not so at 3Square. Their meeting centres in Ghent and Limelette focus solely on offering clients the best business facilities possible - with a culinary cherry on top. 3Square Ghent is ideally located by highway E40 and close to highways E17 and E411. Thanks to being just outside the city centre, visitors need not worry about traffic restrictions or parking space. They can drive straight into 3Square’s large and free underground car park. 3Square Brabant-Wallon, the second 3Square site, is located right outside the centre of Brussels in Limelette. Here you can find both business and sports facilities. Inside, the different event rooms cater to groups from as small as two to as large as 300 people. The rooms are dispersed over three buildings overlooking an outdoor square and nature park so that every visiting group gets the attention it deserves in a space of its own and can even make use of a terrace. Each of the rooms is equipped with the latest technology and 3Square’s own plug-and-play presentation system which makes the struggle

with cables and getting that projector to work a thing of the past. “Innovation is important to us, as well as customisation and flexibility,” says site manager Frederik Vanderhaegen. “Every client gets their own event manager who’s on standby the entire time.” This allows 3Square to style each room as per the client’s request and respond quickly to last-minute changes. Quality service is further guaranteed by the fact that 3Square always and only works with its own staff. That even goes for the catering. “We create our event menus in consultation with the client and gladly prepare vegetarian, vegan and allergy-safe alternatives,” Vanderhaegen continues.

and after-work gatherings with lectures by speakers from a variety of industries. It’s where men and women come to exchange ideas and grow their network. 3Square is a place to work, network and not work. Thanks to its focus on an allround business experience, the site was awarded with 5 Hammers, the highest possible classification in the Belgian and Dutch conference industry. Companies such as BNP-Paribas, GSK and Allianz enjoy 3Square’s personalised approach. And so could you.

Aside from offering conference meeting catering, 3Square also has its own business restaurant. It is freely accessible and the place-to-be for people looking to network while enjoying a refined meal. Those in need of a more private setting can book one of the lunchboxes. These rooms offer an intimate meeting space for two to eight people, including a lunch service of the highest level. “We also have our own business club, B19,” Vanderhaegen mentions. Members of B19 enjoy weekly breakfast meetings


Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  63

Discover Benelux  |  Events Special  |  The Best Event Agencies and Locations in Flanders

Organising events from A to Z TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN  |  PHOTOS: ITSYV

What do BMW, BNP Paribas, Coca Cola, Swarovski and the ING Bank Group all have in common? They have all done business with the Inventus Group in Antwerp: a joint venture of several enterprises that are in the events business. With two flexible venues, a catering company and a booking agency all under one roof, the Inventus Group comes as a highly recommendable partner for organising amongst others - seminars, walking dinners and staff parties in Belgium. As a joint venture, the Group is capable of getting you in touch with just one contact who is responsible for all aspects of your event.

Working together ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ and that proverb is equally true for the Inventus Group in Antwerp. With Serge Gestels who owns the Antwerp 64  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

Engineering Company (AEC) building, Jetset Events owner Jimmy Faes, a catering company and the Dock3 building in their portfolio, the group is able to organise events ranging from 100 - 1,200 people. The two event locations complement each other, given the more stylish setting of Dock3 and the raw, industrial feel of AEC, that used to be a shipyard. The two venues are full-service, centrally located in Antwerp and easy to dress up for whatever size a group is expected to be, with AEC at a maximum capacity of 900 people and Dock3 at 1,200.

even somewhere else in Belgium; we can do the whole production at external locations as well.” One of the benefits of dealing with the Inventus Group is, according to Faes, the competitive price they can offer. “Having to plan an event and dealing with somebody from the venue, somebody responsible for catering, another one for the entertainment; that’s all incredibly time consuming and adds to the hours all those people will charge. We at Inventus offer a package deal and will appoint just one person who takes care of everything and is the only contact you need to get hold of.”

Package deal


“It was only a matter of time before we started a group,” says Jimmy Faes on the subject of Inventus. “All of us have a rich history in our fields of work and to combine all that knowledge is to be able to offer the best deal for anyone thinking about organising an event in Antwerp or

Though capable of organising events at other locations, there is a good reason to stick with Dock3 and/or AEC: both venues are fully equipped with lights and a sound installation, whereas many other event locations are bare and require the manhours and time to be completely ready. On

Discover Benelux  |  Events Special  |  The Best Event Agencies and Locations in Flanders

top of that, the Inventus Group crew know the locations through and through and as such are capable of changing the setting in a matter of hours. Faes elaborates: “You could be having a lunch at Dock3, a meeting elsewhere and come back with the venue changed into a place for a walking dinner or even a club setting for a staff party, complete with DJ and/or cover band. All the gear is stored in-house, so there’s no added costs for transport. Both Dock3 and AEC are not far from the centre of Antwerp and there’s ample parking space.”

Catering A new name that is part of the Inventus Group is not actually that new at all: Eventus Catering was co-founded by

Faes and chef Mark Adriaenssens for the Group itself, but the two have a history together, with Adriaenssens being responsible for the catering of Dock3 and Faes’ Jetset Events for about five years. “It’s very convenient to have a catering partner aboard Inventus Group,” says Faes. “Their team is capable of delivering practically everything: from simple crisps to a luxurious three-course dinner, all tailored to whatever your needs are. They’ve done catering at external venues for 2,000 people - large groups are no problem at all.”

Experience What is most important for Inventus Group, according to Faes, is that once

an arrangement is made, you can be sure the Group will handle everything perfectly from start to finish. The joint venture provides flexibility for all parties involved and if one only needs the catering department or event planning, or just the location, that is also possible. Faes smiles: “But when they come to us for just one part of the Group and we tell them all the other possibilities, it’s only a matter of time before we get the other partners on board. That’s because we’re professionals with years of experience and we look out for each other, making sure our team provides the best experience possible.” Web:

Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  65

Discover Benelux  |  Events Special  |  Top Agencies and Locations in Flanders

Towards New Standards Symposium, Belgium. Photo: © Jonathan Ramael

Bringing academics and industries together with conferences TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN

There is an industry that is known to people as the ‘MICE’ sector, an acronym for ‘meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions’ where event bureaus are fully equipped to get groups such as companies and institutions together for all sorts of reasons. One of Belgium’s experts in the MICE industry is Leuven-based Seauton International. They put an emphasis on the ‘meetings’ and ‘conferences’ part, having an impressive record for not only organising conferences and meetings, but also being known as a trustworthy partner for co-creating projects.

Conferences ‘Focus on what you do best, let us handle the rest’, is Seauton’s motto and the company itself in a nutshell. Founded in 66  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

1999 by Jan Samyn, a self-described ‘raconteur’, Seauton is what made the Belgian’s dream to support associations through events such as conferences possible. As one to be always on the road, there is a reason for the company to have the word ‘International’ in its name, organising events not only in Belgium, but all over Europe, the United States, Asia and Africa. With a team that Samyn defines as ‘headstrong’, his enterprise quickly became a highly rewarded one, grabbing Travel Magazine’s ‘Best MICE Agency’ Award six times along the way.

ly before, but we at Seauton International are responsible for both.


Bridging industries with academics

To get to that point, Samyn and the company combined two aspects: “There’s working on an operational level and there’s working on the communication level. We’ve seen the two done separate-

Though Seauton works with a variety of industries, it is mostly the innovative and academic world that work together with the Belgian company. Samyn: “We see ourselves as the bridge between the two,

“I’ve always been a storyteller and organising an event for an association is not much different. You want to put yourself in their shoes, help them tell their stories and watch something grow. We ask the associations we work with tough questions and want to know the intrinsic value of a conference and how we can reach that specific value. It pushes us to work at the top of our game, but that’s what should be expected from us - and we’ll give nothing less.”

Discover Benelux  |  Events Special  |  The Best Event Agencies and Locations in Flanders

helping to connect, launch new products and – if needed – help with setting out a strategy. We take care of not only the conference, but also the flight plan, overnight stays; basically every piece of logistics as we travel alongside. As a MICE company for almost 20 years, we see how conferences evolve and what we should emphasise. Take networking for example; that’s becoming a much more important part of a business meeting and we adjust our conferences accordingly. Another trend is the shift from quantity to quality; no longer is the number of people attending the leading factor, instead, the impact and importance of the event is what matters most. Who is attending and what is being said, decided and investigated?”

storm and will continue helping associations with their core business. It’s an industry that demands innovation and efficiency, but that shouldn’t be limited to software or online technology. Those are means that should definitely be invested in, but its interchangeable, where human capital is not. We see markets that are protectionist and defensive. They’re going to have a hard time surviving in these times.” Web:

Annual Meeting of the European Charcot Foundation, 2017, Italy. Photo: © David Plas

Transfer of knowledge Expert in many fields, Seauton is also involved in several innovations and has invested more than one million euros in different concepts, such as the future of health care education. The demand for that particular type of education is higher than ever, and in Samyn’s opinion, the future for it lies in the professional organised transfer of knowledge. With today’s technology like e-learning and live-streaming, a PCO (professional conference organiser) such as Seauton can handle the task of archiving academic conferences and webinars quite well, providing a road map through the jungle that is the world of scientific articles. “We don’t just sell resources, but also the solution the client is looking for.”

Paradigm Symposium, 2017. Photo: © Jonathan Ramael

Streamlining Despite all the successes at Seauton, Samyn feels there is still room for improvement, and will do so: “We feel we can streamline our way of communicating with customers. Coming to us means having a open talk with us and we could guide you through the whole process a bit faster, without losing that personal touch. We made plans for that and will start doing so from next June onwards. There’s also the fact we’re high in demand and don’t necessary take a pro-active stance in the MICE market, but I feel we should. The margins in this field of expertise are low, but we showed the world it’s more than sustainable if you give your best. We grew in times of crisis, but weathered every

Annual Meeting of the European Charcot Foundation, 2017, Italy. Photo: © David Plas

Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  67

Discover Benelux  |  Events Special  |  The Best Event Agencies and Locations in Flanders

Events with a personal touch TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN  |  PHOTOS: À TABLE

Private parties, weddings, business events: there is not much Ben Roggeman from À Table Events has not seen or done. The Ghent-based event planner is one for the tiny details that create the picture perfect setting for your happening. With a background in catering, Roggeman is one to oversee every aspect and does not leave room for errors, whether it is for 50 or 1,500 people. Starting as a ‘traiteur’ in the catering business, Roggeman always had a knack for entertaining folks with excellent food, but something started to nag at him: “I’ve always wanted to join the event planning business. It’s a niche that leaves room for creativity and the power of surprising the guests with a setting that’s carefully created. As far as catering goes at the events I organise: I have preferred partners that do that part, but I must say that with my know-how, I do like to get involved with the food, but the event has my unbridled attention. As a showrunner, I’m the only contact needed for the customers who do business with me.” 68  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

As an event planner for seven years, À Table has a record for offering entertainment that could be classified as somewhat exotic. A firm celebrated its 20th birthday and Roggeman and his team had falconers and a choreographed dance show. “The themes I come up with for an event are recurring ones, and form an integral part of the feasts themselves. That is challenging, but I couldn’t be more happier if the end result is worth all that attention.” One of those events was a staff party held last winter in a church in Ghent. Roggeman: “There was so much stuff to take care of, not in the least the heat: the ven-

ue was rented bare and we had to fix the climate control, which we did of course. Then there was the setting: we turned the church into an intimate venue, changed the altar into a stage with a dance group dressed as nuns. There was a certain sexiness to that, but with style and class.” Web:

Discover Benelux  |  Events Special  |  The Best Event Agencies and Locations in Flanders

The perfect business card to the world TEXT: ELLA PUT  |  PHOTOS: TMAB

With more than 35 years of experience and many prestigious international clients, including the United Nations and BusinessEurope, TMAB has proven itself to be more than just a helping hand for organising conferences. It is the most creative and innovative answer to the question of how one can make their own business event unforgettable. From Montreal to Singapore and from Madrid to their own offices in the Belgian town of Londerzeel, between Brussels and Antwerp, TMAB is everywhere and definitely not afraid to go the extra mile for their clients - not only in distance, but also when it comes to planning the event itself. “From political or economical summits to showcase events, from designing a paperless conference app in-house to creating the right setting for your conference, we try to make everything possible and help our clients, not just by arranging formal practicalities but also by

giving that little bit extra when it comes to the creative organisation,” explains TMAB’s managing director Ilse Van den Berghe. “We do not want to just organise events like so many others do: it’s important to us to also tell the story of the specific organisation, attracting the interest of their target audience. You could say we are the alternative to any standard communication agency, focusing on the customer’s scope and DNA.” With a dynamic team, which includes young talent as well as employees with more than 20 years of experience, TMAB has become an event planning partner that combines knowledge with new creative input. However it is not only the creative ‘picture perfect’ that they sell. You can rely on TMAB for a smooth logistical organisation, such as technical state-

of-the-art tools, specific security and protocol measures, catering and support staff, modern or thematic decoration, and onsite coordination. These skills have led to the Belgian company building up an impressive Rolodex over the past four decades, organising events for clients such as Shell, Energy Technology Club, all seven Joint Undertakings (Clean Sky, SESAR, BBI, ECSEL, Shift2Rail, IMI, FCH), the World Bank, OECD, and UNRWA, among others. With their new website, the Belgianbased company hopes to spread their creativity even further across the world. “Looking back over the past 35 years, we have combined experience with digital innovation and surprised every guest. Our new website has a fresh, innovative design - that is exactly what the future holds for TMAB.” Web:

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Discover Benelux  |  Events Special  |  The Best Event Agencies and Locations in Flanders

Let us meet in the future TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN  |  PHOTOS: LIVING TOMORROW

Imagine a place where bright ideas are heard, expanded and developed with a network of partners, while having a meeting place to present such ideas for an audience as large as you want it to be. That might sound like a pie in the sky, but in Belgium it is a reality. In the city of Vilvoorde, adjacent to Brussels, is where you will find Living Tomorrow: a multifunctional building where the way we will live in the future is their core business by means of presentations, trend predictions, connecting people and helping realise several future-proof projects. Organising more than 300 events per year, attracting more than 150,000 inhabitants in the same amount of time and relying on a partner network of more than 150 organisations; Living Tomorrow has it all to show for, but that did not come out of nowhere. The initiative started 25 years ago by architect Frank Beliën who built a ‘House of the Future’ that had ex-Microsoft CEO Bill Gates attending a couple of times. The house’s mission then was to help develop a vision for housing in the 70  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

future, but as the project grew, so did the scope of it, branching out to other themes as well, such as health care, the catering industry, sports and Smart Cities.

out a reservation, and work on a project, meet with others and grab something to eat at The Bistronomy where chef Marc Clément prepares refined dishes made with the future of cuisine in mind.”

“Anyone with a good idea is welcome at Living Tomorrow,” says Kaat Vanrenterghem, responsible for marketing and communications at the initiative, describing the process of approaching Living Tomorrow with such an idea. “Our team will have a good look at your project and determine together how it could be implemented. From there, we reach out to suitable partners in our network who could be meaningful and if there isn’t one in our own circle, we’re not shy to look further than that.” But more than just a place to exchange ideas, Living Tomorrow is a fully equipped conference building, with the ‘Meet-Inn’ as their latest concept. Vanrenteghem: “We have an ‘Office of the Future’ and learned thanks to this ‘living lab’ that there’s a problem with mobility in and around Brussels. That’s why we developed the Meet-Inn: a comfortable place where you can go with-







Discover Benelux  |  Events Special  |  The Best Event Agencies and Locations in Flanders

‘It is about working and enjoying time together’ TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: MOODMAKER

Employees are the heart of every company. And when they are truly working together, being real colleagues to each other and having fun in the process, then a company can really strive. Moodmaker helps to achieve that positive vibe among co-workers, through inspiring team-building events. “Corporate team-building events used to have a focus on the competitive element. The problem with that was that you had ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. Not a very positive vibe there,” explains Yves Sandyck of Moodmaker. They have been organising team-building events since 2005. “That is why we shifted the focus of our events to collaboration and working together to get a chain reaction, quite literally.” The ‘Chain Reaction’ is one of the popular team-building events Moodmaker organises. “We divide the employees into groups of five and assign them a table. All the tables are in a line, with roughly 50 centimetres in between. We provide all kinds of materials (toys, pneumatics, 12V components, catapults, domestic appli72  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

ances, etc.), but they are limited,” elaborates Sandyck. “Each team needs to build their very own chain reaction. Moreover, all teams also need to communicate with the tables in front and behind them, to bridge the gaps between the tables and link them into one big chain reaction.” Every detail counts and everyone is responsible for the success. “This is team building at its best! The groups really have to work together to get that chain reaction in the end. It is all about collaboration and getting that ‘WOW-feeling’ when the chain reactions work.” That also goes for another event Moodmaker has created: ‘Make a Film in One Day’. “The whole group has to work together: divide the different roles – like actors, camera crews and production between them. That also requires them to find a consensus, and be creative in order to make the film. Telling a story together and seeing the result at the end of the day really stays with everybody,” continues Sandyck. The films can also be an inspiration to make a movie about their own

company, in order to show applicants what the company is all about. “Organisations are looking for new ways to tell their story to potential new hires. A film is an innovative way to tell the story.” Moodmaker also has some more ‘traditional’ team-building events, like Highland Games (everybody in a kilt, bagpipe players, sheep and – if allowed – whisky), VR Bomb Defusal (admit it, you have always wanted to do this in real life), Soapbox Race (build, create and pimp your own soapbox) and Haka (team energiser). “Our team-building events are being held in different locations throughout the Benelux. We take all our equipment and crew to the venue of your choice,” says Sandyck. “Team-building is all about working together and enjoying time together. Creating a positive vibe that will continue in the workspace and makes your company even stronger.” Web:

Discover Benelux  |  Events Special  |  The Best Event Agencies and Locations in Flanders

Event organisation at its very, very best TEXT: JULIËN L’ORTYE  |  PHOTOS: BALTHAZAR EVENTS

Have you ever wondered what it really takes to set up an event for thousands of people? You have, probably. But did you also consider that it involves dozens of specialists, in lines of work you have never even thought of in your life? We thought so. At Balthazar Events, they do think of such things and way more. The Antwerp-based events agency will make ‘each bespoke vision a reality’, according to their website. Rather intrigued by what this means, we decided to get on the phone with Mich Van Aerde, not exactly your average CEO - or at least, not for this sector. He laughs: “I’m 62 years old and still finding that this job is the best job in the world.” The agency was born as recently as Valentine’s Day 2012, but that does not keep them from delivering each and every time. “Yes, we are young, yet with all our resources pooled together, our teams boast more than 30 years of experience and a solid curriculum,” says Van Aerde. “That cross-over between youthful enthusiasm

and craftsmanship allows us to go the extra mile, time and time again. It is precisely in this combination of a results-driven métier and innovative thinking that our power to build events leaving a lasting impression lies.” Balthazar Events has been lauded a few times over. Both in 2016 and 2017, they received BEA Awards. In 2017, they made it to the finals of the HEAVENT Awards. As well as this, they are a proud member of ACC Belgium.

we’ve gained the trust of both national and international companies. Orange, Deme, BASF, 20th Century Fox, Duvel Moortgat and many others count on us to organise their events. And that’s not all: over 80 per cent of our customers come back to us with two or more corporate events each year,” Van Aerde concludes.

Van Aerde tells us that the sector has been professionalising strongly over the last few years - “in a good way”, he adds - which leads to needing more and more ‘complete’ people. “When I am looking at the future, I would like more people to be specialised in their lines of work, to do what they are good at. To have a topnotch video producer, who only works on that kind of work, for example.” With a future that has been thought out so thoroughly, Balthazar Events’ coming years look pretty bright. “Thanks to our creativity, a yearning for perfection, a down-to-earth approach, and relentless striving for results,


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Discover Benelux  |  Events Special  |  The Best Event Agencies and Locations in Flanders

Unique events that tell your story TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: PANAMA EVENTS

Every event is personal to the organisers, whether it is a large public event with 15,000 attendees, a team-building session for your employees, a product launch, a congress or a high-end gathering for a small group. “No matter how big or how small, we will tell your story,” says Isabelle Dierckxsens, senior event manager at Panama Events. “Each event we organise is based on the story we create together with our clients. Because every client is unique, every event is unique,” continues Dierckxsens. “We really get into the DNA of our clients, to find out what makes them unique and what their expectations are. Based on that, we write a story. That story is the message our client wants to bring through the event. From there, we create a one-ofa-kind, unique event.” Panama Events is part of Panama Group. “Our event division started in 2005 as 24seven. In 2012 Panama Group acquired 24seven and today we contin74  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

ue to create unique events throughout Europe,” explains Michael Van den Brandt, general manager of Panama Group, based in Temse. “Over the years we have organised numerous events, big and small. When we refer to the big ones we refer to the organisation of the VIP hospitality for the ‘Ronde van Vlaanderen’, for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in Utrecht and Dusseldorf, as well as for the Zoute Grand Prix, a prestigious old-timer event in Knokke-Heist.” But no need to go ‘big’ every time: Panama Events just as well creates amazing team-building sessions, product launches, congresses and roadshows. Because Panama Events has its own graphic design department, production facilities and its own logistics department, they can organise an event from A to Z. “Why not take control of the services that we use?” says Van den Brandt. “Scaling, integration and logistics go hand in hand,

don’t they? To enhance our four divisions – Human Resources, Logistics, Sales & Promotions and Events – with that integrated approach, we placed them all under one brand in 2016: Panama Group. This way we can offer our clients a total package within their budget and maintain control. Everything has to be perfect. Excellence is in the details.” Panama Events organises events all over Europe. “A lot of them are in the Benelux, Germany and France. But we have also organised events in Ibiza. Much better weather than here,” smiles Van den Brandt. For Dierckxsens an event is successful when the client feels that the story they wanted to tell really came across. “We are as proud of a big event where 20,000 people show up, as we are of a high-end anniversary, product launch, congress or team-building event for a small group.” Web:

creating dreams from our Belgian basecamp realizing unforgettable moments all over the globe

Discover Benelux  |  Leeuwarden  |  European Capital of Culture

From Sense of Place exhibition. Photo: © Ruben Hamelink, Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018


The power of community TEXT: ISA HEMPHREY

Declared a European Capital of Culture, Leeuwarden and the province of Friesland will celebrate with a substantial programme of events driven by the Frisian community and beyond. Discover Benelux explores what this exciting community has in store to inspire the curious tourist in 2018.

three things: you have to dare to dream, dare to act and dare to be different,” says Oeds Westerhof, legacy director of Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018. These three core mantras are what guide this year’s events, orchestrated not only by renowned international talents, but also by the Frisian community.

As the world faces challenges like that of the environment, we often look to major cities to pioneer and adapt to the inevitable change. Leeuwarden will boldly lead by example, showing not only the vital importance of community, but also how art and culture can be used to inspire changes in how we live now and in the future.

Dare to act

“Our programme is about the future. If you want to find a new future you have to do 76  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

A phrase that will be heard often this year in Friesland is ‘iepen mienskip’, meaning ‘open community’, which encompasses the bottom-up initiative of the programme. Although part of the Netherlands, Friesland has a distinguishable culture. But this does not mean Frisians are a closed community. “What is very interesting about the Frisian culture is that we have our own identity, we have our own language that we

speak,” says Jort Klarenbeek, international marketeer of Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018. “In 2018, we want to break that closed sense of community that people might think we are and transform it into an open sense of community.” This programme is built upon a seemingly endless supply of volunteers keen to share their culture and ideas with the world. That is why there is an ‘iepen mienskip’ programme for Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018 separate from the main one with hundreds of projects to explore. Even small Frisian villages like Veenwoudsterwal, with only 128 houses, will not be excluded from the programme’s open community theme as filmmaker Sjoerd Litjens will premiere a series documenting each resident. Projects like Sense of Place

Discover Benelux  |  Leeuwarden-Friesland  |  European Capital of Culture

are also made in consultation with the community, as artist Joop Mulder oversees the creation of spectacular land art along the Wadden coast. Visitors will be able to experience this project via a specially made bicycle route. Meanwhile, the often-unseen community of the Fier treatment centre for victims of violence in dependent relationships, and Leeuwarden prison inmates, will be opening the doors to their worlds. Of course, the cultural programme must include Leeuwarden’s famed residents: artist M.C. Escher (1898-1972) and exotic dancer Mata Hari (1876-1917). Explored in two exhibitions at the Fries Museum, Mata Hari: The Myth and the Maiden follows her incredible life through 150 objects, many of which have never been exhibited, and Escher’s Journey displays around 80 of the artist’s works including his acclaimed Day and Night (1938). Another cultural heritage will be honoured in the town of Drachten, where the art movements De Stijl and Dada flourished, by Museum Dr8888.

The wider Netherlands will certainly not be excluded from the programme. The Migrating Ceramics exhibition at the Keramiekmuseum Princessehof displays one of the Netherlands’ greatest exports. 100 Years of De Ploeg at the Groninger Museum will show a retrospective of work from the Groningen visionaries who pioneered this art movement. Also, Dutch artists like Barend Koekkoek (1803-1862) and international masters like J.M.W. Turner (17751851) will be displayed at the Groninger Museum’s Romanticism in the North, their first international exhibition of northern European landscape paintings from the Romantic era. A great deal of focus is placed on sustainability and how we should tackle the uncertain future of our environment. For example, Fossil-Free Friesland will demonstrate a future without dependency on fossil fuels with events such as a solar boat race or the Eleven Roads Tour, where sustainable vehicles like electric taxis and e-bikes will dominate the Frisian roads. The Places

of Hope exhibition showcases pioneers working towards a more sustainable future that we do not have to dread, while WaterConnecting 2018 explores how Friesland utilises, tames and enjoys water as around a third of the country is below sea level. The cultural history of Friesland is also explored this year. “As cities of culture, we have a responsibility towards legacy,” says Claudia Woolgar, creative producer of Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018. “The way in which this programme has been built and sustained throughout the community of Friesland means that legacy has been knitted into the very heart of the programme.” Under the Tower, for example, will bring to life 30 local stories around Frisian churches in collaboration with artists. Meanwhile, Burgwerd will pay homage to the blind Frisian poet Tsjêbbe Hettinga (1949-2013) by shrouding the village in darkness and encouraging participants to follow a route holding the shoulder of another. This human connection will also be a part of 8th Day, where a human

Potatoes Go Wild. Photo: © Potatoes Go Wild, Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018

Mata Hari: The Myth and the Maiden. Photo: © foto van Mata Hari, de mythe en het meisje, Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018

Shinji Ohmaki (Japan) has designed a sculpture inspired by the Japanese flower arrangement known as Tachibana for the city of IJlst for the 11Fountains project. Photo: © Team Horsthuis_1, Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018

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Discover Benelux  |  Leeuwarden  |  European Capital of Culture

Dada-inspired boat in the city of Drachten, Friesland. Photo: © Drachten Museum, Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018

‘machine’ constructed with music, dance or theatre will encourage participants to communicate as each project must relate to one another to start a chain reaction.

Dare to be different Society is becoming more diverse. That is why Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018 will underline the importance of celebrating diversity, using culture to ignite discussion and create a willingness to integrate. “We have projects that stress the differences between people, and we see that as a strength,” says Westerhof. In July, the Welcome to the Village festival will function as a micro-society filled with musical, artistic and culinary delights where solutions are found to create a more sustainable and integrative future. This vision continues backstage where ten per cent of the volunteers are newcomers to Friesland, some of them refugees. In the village of Sint Annaparochie, a refu78  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

gee centre has been part of The Journey community art project. Concern about the separation between the local and refugee residents prompted organisation Haring & Hummus to help them communicate and even undertake a theatrical walk in 2016 from the refugee centre to the centre of the village. Using art as a catalyst for change is an important goal at Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018. “It’s about using art to change, using culture as a medium for change,” says Woolgar. “It’s the courage to do things differently.” For Strangers on Stage, performances are used to confront attitudes towards multiculturalism. Shows include the Israeli-Dutch choreographic duo IVGI&GREBEN and the energetic magic of Slava the Russian clown. Another powerful performance will be Lost in the Greenhouse, a theatrical and musical whodunnit set in a greenhouse that tells the story of its Polish and Frisian workers.

Many types of diversity will be celebrated. For example, King of the Meadows will raise awareness of the bio-diversity of the Dutch landscape and its disappearing meadow birds. Embodying this message will be musical, dance and theatre productions, including an orchestra of 2,000 wind instruments and multimedia experiences where you can see through the eyes of a black-tailed godwit. At Frisian Dance Days, dancers of all ages and physical limitations will display their talents in a series of shows in October. Even the diversity of languages is celebrated at Lân Fan Taal, a collection of festivals and exhibitions exploring not only speech, but everything from braille to body language.

Dare to dream Although predominantly promoting Leeuwarden and Friesland, many events involve collaborations with the international community. “Our emphasis lies on inspiring the rest of Europe, but also to provide the rest

Discover Benelux  |  Leeuwarden-Friesland  |  European Capital of Culture

of Europe with a warm welcome to our region,” says Klarenbeek. One spectacular contribution will be the giant puppets, operated by dozens of people, from the Royal de Luxe street theatre. You can walk alongside these marvels as they explore, eat and even breathe. “The impact of the 15metre-high giants in the small streets of Leeuwarden will be extraordinary,” says Woolgar. Other spectacles include the Tall Ships Race, beginning in Sunderland and ending in Harlingen, and the first TAFISA European Sports For All Games event where around 20 countries will demonstrate their cultural sports including Friesland’s canal vaulting pastime ‘fierljeppen’. The canal route connecting Friesland’s 11 cities, which was once the stage of an ice-skating race, has inspired the 11Fountains project, bringing together international artists to create permanent installations and a new cultural route. “Each of the fountains reflects the history of the cities,” says Woolgar. “Each of those artists, through their contact with the local community, has come up with a fountain design that says something about the city.” Other international artist exhibitions include LÛD International Sound-Art in Rijsterbos and the epic Colorfield Performance where 400 artists will create epic art together.

international community will be raised at Silence of the Bees, a project stressing an environmental issue affecting us all. As Westerhof explains: “The only way to find a future for our city, for our region, for our country and also for Europe is that people stand together and work bottom up for new solutions for the future.” It is not only the programme of LeeuwardenFriesland 2018 that seems endless, but also the voices and passion of those who have brought it to life. “This is a different

type of programme and the reason is because of the sense of community, it’s a bottom-up initiative,” says Woolgar. “It’s programmed literally by thousands of people throughout the province.” It is no doubt impossible to imagine that this province will not live up to its year-long title and provide the light needed to inspire the world. This is merely a taste of what is to come at Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018. Discover more events at

The Giants of Royal de Luxe. Photo: © Serge Koutchinsky, Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018.

Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018 is not short on international musicians either. Britain’s The Subways will perform at the Welcome to the Village festival, while Europe’s youngest generation of musicians will perform over 1,000 concerts as part of At the Watergate. All tastes are accommodated, like Opera Spanga’s production of Verdi’s Aida, or the Oranjewoud Festival’s programme of classical music. Even international filmmakers will participate with Sailing on the Grass, where directors explore the Frisian landscape and how the locals live together. At Potatoes Go Wild, you can also discover the 160-year-old agricultural partnership of cultivating potatoes between Friesland’s Het Bildt and Malta. Their charming exchange of poetry attached to potato bags will also be on display. Furthermore, awareness of a disappearing

The Giants of Royal de Luxe. Photo: © Serge Koutchinsky, Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018.

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Iceskating at Olympic Stadium Photo: ©

Out & About Winter may still be in full swing, but there are plenty of unmissable events taking place across the Benelux this month to warm your heart. Whether you want to brave the cold or seek refuge inside, there are world-class exhibitions, sporting events and, of course, the annual carnival celebrations. Get ready to party! TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER Tim Walker, The Garden of Earthly Delights in the Noordbrabants Museum. Photo: Joep Jacobs

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

William Kentridge exhibition at Sint-Janshospitaal, Bruges. Photo: Stella Olivier

Pateekes Week 2 – 11 February Antwerp, Belgium Antwerp Pateekes Week showcases the best of the city’s patisseries, coffee houses and tearooms. All across town a special ‘pastry route’ will be set out for foodies to discover the finest places to enjoy sweet treats in the city.

1935 and 1936. This sensual new production at Luxembourg’s popular Rockhal venue proves that music, movement and speech are inseparable.

Haute Photographie 8 - 11 February LP2 Rotterdam, the Netherlands A meeting place for artists, curators, collectors and anyone with a passion for photogra-

Carmina Burana at Rockhal. Photo: @franceconcert-Orlova Ksenia

Bruges Beer Festival 3 – 4 February Bruges, Belgium Dry January is over so why not enjoy one of Belgium’s most famous exports. Bruges Beer Festival is one of the oldest and most authentic beer festivals in the country, with an impressive list of speciality beers on offer.

Carmina Burana 4 February Rockhal, Luxembourg Based on a collection of lyric poems, Carmina Burana was composed by Carl Orff between Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  81

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Luxembourg City Film Festival, Soirée Crème Fraîche Photo: © CNA Romain Girtgen

phy, Haute Photographie offers a diverse programme including lectures, tours, workshops and exhibits from both established and upcoming names.

Haute Photographie. Douglas Mandry, Territorial Shift, Seascape 01-001, 2017, courtesy Bildhalle

Anima Festival 9 - 18 February Flagey Cinematek, Brussels, Belgium Anima, the Brussels Animation Film Festival, is a must for animation aficionados. Enchanting for children and adults alike, visitors can look forward to screenings, an animated night, advanced showings and the prestigious Cartoon d’Or award.

Carnival in the Netherlands 11 - 13 February Various locations In the Netherlands, carnival is predominantly celebrated in the south of the country, with the provinces of Limburg and Noord-Brabant really going to town for a few days of non-stop partying. Enjoy food, drink, dancing in the streets and plenty of colourful outfits.

ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament 12 - 18 February Rotterdam, the Netherlands Rotterdam is home to one of the world’s biggest indoor tennis tournaments: the ABN AMRO 82  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

World Tennis Tournament. Every year tennis fans from across the globe descend on the city to witness the world’s greatest players in action.

Luxembourg City Film Festival 22 February – 4 March Luxembourg City, Luxembourg Calling all cinephiles: this event promises two weeks’ worth of film heaven. Luxembourg’s leading cinematic event will showcase a mixture of fiction, animation, and documentary films in its partner cinemas, with special guests, exhibitions, round tables and workshops enhancing the programme.

William Kentridge - Smoke, Ashes, Fable Until 25 February Sint-Janshospitaal, Bruges, Belgium This major exhibition presents work by South African artist William Kentridge around the themes of trauma and healing. Taking centre stage will be Kentridge’s 2015 video installation More Sweetly Play the Dance, a contemporary interpretation of the medieval Dance of Death.

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar The Garden of Earthly Delights, Tim Walker Until 25 February Noordbrabants Museum, Den Bosch, the Netherlands This must-see exhibition showcases an impressive series of images from British photographer Tim Walker. Inspired by the mysterious visual language of Hieronymus Bosch, the incredible works were commissioned by the Nicola Erni Collection.

Speedskating in the Olympic Stadium of Amsterdam Until 28 February Amsterdam, the Netherlands Dubbed ‘the coolest ice-rink in the Netherlands’, this 400-metre ice-rink is located inside the impressive Olympic Stadium. Besides skating, you can also attend a curling clinic with friends, or enjoy a cosy dinner next to the rink.

Carnaval Maastricht.

Carnaval Maastricht.

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Musée international du Carnaval et du Masque


The Belgian town of Binche is famed for its carnival, which was even declared a ‘Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO in 2003. The town is also home to a fascinating museum dedicated to carnivals and masked traditions - not only in Binche, but across the entire world. “There is something unique to learn and understand from the masks in our collection, whether they come from Belgium, Africa, or anywhere else,” enthuses Clémence Mathieu, director and curator at the Musée International du Carnaval et du Masque. Home to around 10, 000 objects including masks, disguises and puppets, the museum is also a research and documentation centre focussing on the study and the preservation of global masking traditions. There is a permanent exhibition dedicated to masks from around the world, and an array of temporary

expos throughout the year. Showing until 15 April is Dieux de cuir, héros de bois (Gods of leather, wooden heroes), a discovery of Indonesia through its practices of masks and puppet theatre. This November the museum will open a new interpretation centre dedicated to Binche carnival. “It will be completely transformed and much more interactive. Even more exciting is that the opening will coincide with the 15 year anniversary of the carnival’s UNESCO recognition. Expect plenty of special events!” Upcoming exhibitions: - Guérir, Ensorceler, 24 May - 19 August An exploration of the mysterious world of healing rituals, spellbinding and divination. - Au Royaume des Touloulous. Le carnaval de Cayenne, Guyane Française, 14 June - 23 December Discover the carnival of Cayenne and the influence of European carnivals through an original course dotted with sound installations.

Views of the permanent collections of masks around the world.

The carnival of Binche.


Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Columns



Meaning out of nothing Flatlands/Narrative Abstractions #2 is the latest exhibition in a line of bold programming by the ever daring MUDAM, Luxembourg. Flatlands is an exhibition that should not work; an exhibition that is built on contradiction and paradox. The title for the show comes from British theologian Edwin Abbott’s 1884 book Flatland. Abbott’s protagonist is a shape; a square that lives in a two-dimensional world. Think of it as a more satirical Mr Men or Little Miss story that comments upon Victorian society. Later on, the square comes across a three-dimensional world called Spaceland, but nobody in Flatland will believe him, and he is rather ignominiously locked away forever. A sad demise for the square indeed, but the curators of Flatlands/Narrative Abstractions #2

develop upon this idea. They offer up a carefully selected group exhibition of artists whose work ties together abstraction with narrative. A combination that should not work. A combination that historically cannot work. After all, abstraction came about through practitioners who wanted to make art that refuted narration and no longer acted as a window. However, the curators have produced a group show where abstraction and narration do not have to be mutually exclusive. The works in the halls of MUDAM are visually abstract, but touch on themes of socio-cultural issues, heritage, literature and personal experience. Really, you will enjoy it, and leave walking out the door feeling like Mr Happy. Flatlands/Narratives Abstractions #2 is on show at MUDAM Luxembourg until 2 April 2018.


Vue FLATLAND Zarka Hidaka. Photo: © Aurelien Mole Matt Antoniak is a visual artist and writer living and working in Newcastle, UK. He works mainly in painting and drawing and is a founding member of the art collective M I L K.


Gordon Finest Scotch Highland Ale This powerful dark beer is served in a thistle-shaped glass and transported in bottles with tartan labels bearing an image of Scotland’s national flower. It is called scotch and looks Scottish, yet it is brewed in Genval, Belgium. The John Martin Brewery, the brewer of Gordon Finest Scotch Highland Ale, was founded by an expatriate Briton in 1909. According to an oftrecounted brewing legend, crates of strong dark ale left behind in Flanders after Scottish troops returned home following the end of World War I inspired Belgian brewers to strengthen and revolutionise their recipes. It is said the resultant brews were made in honour of the troops that fought to liberate Belgium. This particular beer is named after Adam de Gordon, who went to war alongside King Louis IX of France back in the 13th century. It is a top fermented ale that has a hint of ruby to its

dark appearance and a malty, chocolaty aroma. The flavour is bold and round. Caramel comes through in the long, satisfying aftertaste of this beer, whose richness makes it a good one to savour during the last days of winter. The quality of this beer, and its year-round drinkability, is reflected by the fact Gordon’s Finest Scotch Highland Ale was awarded a silver medal at the 2017 World Beer Challenge, held in Estoril, Portugal. It is a beer that pairs well with roast beef or burgers topped with caramelised onions and mature cheese. Whether it is one to wash down haggis is another story. After all, that dish is rarely prepared in Genval, a community with an altitude of just 81 metres despite its outstanding highland ale. Brewer: John Martin Brewery Strength: 8.0 per cent

Stuart Forster was twice named Journalist of the Year at the 2015 and 2016 Holland Press Awards. Five generations of his family have been actively involved in the brewing industry.

Issue 50  |  February 2018  |  85

Discover Benelux | Music | Benelux Beats


Musically discovering… Max Meser TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTO: NOISE +5

Growing up on the Spanish Costa Brava, Max Meser decided in 2012 to take his musical career to the Netherlands – the country of his father. Good news for everyone in the Benelux: Meser’s mix of ‘60s pop, ‘50s Rock ‘n’ Roll and fine folk and country take us back to bygone times. After debuting with Change in 2016, Meser’s second album Pictures was released in the summer of 2017 and produced by Andy Crofts (Paul Weller, The Moons). Discover Benelux met up with the rising star. You moved to the Netherlands in 2012. Was music the main reason for your move? Definitely. Growing up in the Spanish country also means the odds of founding a successful band are quite low. That has nothing to do with Spain as a country, but more to do with the rural nature of the Costa Brava. So when I was invited to play a gig in Amsterdam in 2012, I bought a one-way ticket to the Netherlands. 86  |  Issue 50  |  February 2018

When did the ball start rolling in the Netherlands? The first year consisted of many jam sessions and open mics. After a while I met my manager and I invited an English high-school friend from Spain (Isaac Wadsworth) to join the band. Later, Mano Hollestelle (bass) and Gini Cameron (drums) also joined, completing the band. What has changed sound-wise since your 2016 album Change? We as a band are much more experienced and confident. Change was a bit of a try-out and was completed with more help from others. The songs on Pictures were all written by me and Isaac – the album is much more mature. The song writing process for Pictures went fairly quickly: it all came very naturally to us. You have performed on many stages in the Netherlands. Do you prefer to be on stage or in the studio?

I guess on stage – when the product is finished and you can make people happy with your music and a show. There is no better feeling. Best recent musical discovery? I don’t like many contemporary artists, but I recently rediscovered the album Sun Structures from The Temples and that one is great. What does the future hold? First we will go on a European tour with The Strypes. After that we are planning on doing shows abroad: the Netherlands is a small country for a band, so we want to go across borders to introduce various audiences to our music. For tour dates and more: