Discover Benelux, Issue 67, July 2019

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Discover Benelux  |  Contents

Contents JULY 2019




Angelique Van Ombergen Earlier this year, Belgian scientist Angelique Van Ombergen gained international attention thanks to her appearance on Forbes magazine’s prestigious 30 under 30 list for Europe. She now works as a science coordinator for the European Space Agency’s human research programme, as well as writing popular children’s books. We caught up with the Beveren native to find out more about her mission to bring science to the masses.


Discover Antwerp: Live it, Love it!




Q&A with Bart van Es We spoke to Dutch-born writer Bart van Es about his critically acclaimed memoir, The Cut Out Girl, which was awarded the 2018 Costa Book of the Year award.

Amsterdam in 2019: The Ultimate Destination Join us on a journey across the eclectic Dutch capital, as we pick out our must-visit museums, restaurants and much more.

Benelux Inventions that Changed the World From reality television to Bluetooth, we take a look at some of the Benelux creations that changed the world forever.

From top art and culture destinations to foodie hotspots, we share our favourite addresses in the famous ‘city of diamonds’.


Company profiles, regulars and more We look at the month ahead in business, as well as profiling the Benelux companies you need to know about in areas such as FinTech and management consultancy. We also showcase some of the region’s finest educational establishments.




Fashion Picks  |  8 Desirable Designs Out & About  |  86 Columns


Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  3

Discover Benelux  |  Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux Issue 67, July 2019 Published 07.2019 ISSN 2054-7218 Published by Scan Group Print Uniprint Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director Mads E. Petersen Editor Anna Villeleger Copy-editor Karl Batterbee Graphic Designer Audrey Beullier Feature Writer Arne Adriaenssens Contributors Amandine Hach Chérine Koubat

Colette Davidson Eline Joling Eva Menger Ingrid Opstad Karin Venema Lorenza Bacino Martin Pilkington Matt Antoniak Maya Witters Michiel Stol Paola Westbeek Stuart Forster Cover Photo © Kevin Faingnaert 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

School may almost be out for the summer, but our July issue has an academic flavour thanks to cover star Angelique Van Ombergen. The Belgian scientist gained international acclaim earlier this year when she made Forbes magazine’s prestigious 30 under 30 list for Europe, and is now working as a science coordinator for the European Space Agency’s human research programme. It was inspiring to interview Van Ombergen, who also finds time to write her own children’s books, not to mention being involved in various projects to make science more accessible. Research has shown that young girls stop believing they can be anything or that they can pursue a career in anything at the age of five or six, but through her involvement in the Dream Gap Project, Van Ombergen is aiming to close that ‘dream gap’. The scientific theme continues with our feature on some of the most pioneering inventions to have come out of the Benelux. Did you know, for example, that it was Dutchman Jaap Haartsen who created Bluetooth technology? Or that Belgian obstetrician Ferdinand Peeters created the first fully functional contraceptive pill? Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a good book to sink your teeth into, I can highly recommend The Cut Out Girl by Dutch-born writer Bart van Es. You don’t just need to take my word for it, however, as the memoir was named Costa Book of the Year 2018. In our exclusive interview, you can find out more about his family’s astonishing story. Enjoy the magazine,

Phone: +44 207 407 1937 Email:

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 July 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.

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Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks


Nostalgic summer With the current fashion trend around nostalgia, it is the perfect excuse to dream all the way back to your favourite holiday memories by adding retro graphics, bright colours and fun vintage essentials to your wardrobe. TEXT: INGRID OPSTAD  |  PRESS PHOTOS

Make a statement This season, the Belgium-based brand Essentiel Antwerp is taking a trip down memory lane by taking inspiration from favourites from the ‘70s to the ‘90s. If you need a statement piece, this sequinned leopard print pencil skirt is the one you’re looking for. Perfect for a night on the town, but can just as easily be dressed down when paired with a colourful tee. Essentiel Antwerp, sequinned leopard print pencil skirt, €235 Essentiel Antwerp, ‘Under the Neon Moon’ T-shirt, €75

Bomber jacket A must-have for this season, the bomber jacket is revisited here by FRNCH in a golden tweed version for a refined look. With a touch of vintage and timeless expression, this bomber will be an ideal option for chilly summer nights. FRNCH, ‘Lorinda’ jacket, €115

Bag it up Hip pack, bum bag, belt bag… whatever you may call it, this was ‘the’ accessory of the ‘80s. With the Senn bag from Smaak Amsterdam, you can use it as both a cross body or hip bag. Feminine, modern and chic with a twist. Smaak Amsterdam, ‘Senn’ bag, €174.48 6  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

‘80s vibes The ‘80s was one of the most iconic decades for men, with shows like Miami Vice being a big inspiration. With its vintage pattern, this colourful printed shirt is giving us a fresh tropical vibe. Add a pair of pale coloured smart trousers and white sneakers to get into the right summer spirit and look effortlessly chic. Samsøe & Samsøe, ‘Einar SX’ shirt, €124 Samsøe & Samsøe, ‘Lincoln’ trousers, €146 Samsøe & Samsøe, ‘Erno’ sneakers, €168

Palm trees Pastel shades are all the rage at the moment, so why not bring a colourful beach towel with you on your treks this summer? The Tesalate beach towels are ultra compact, super absorbent and dry rapidly. In fact, sand doesn’t stick to them, even when wet. Tesalate, ‘Between Two Palms’ beach towel, €49

Fun frames Colour tinted lenses are a great nod back to the ‘90s. With their sleek design, inspired colour palette and minimalist aesthetic, the Conrad Luminous sunglasses by Belgian brand Komono will bring some colour and fun to your life. Komono, ‘Conrad Luminous’ sunglasses, €99 Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  7

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Desirable Designs


The five continents The summer holidays are here, which means it’s time for some globetrotting. Pack your bags and book your flight because the planet is waiting to be explored. However, if you don’t have any time to travel this summer, these international interior items will let you roam the continents. 100 per cent jetlag-free! TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PRESS PHOTOS


2. American dreams While Native Americans liked them because they kept nightmares away, we like them because they look fabulous. These dreamcatchers are handmade in a Belgian, ethical atelier in Bali, supporting its workers to create a better life for their families. This fair-trade eye-catcher will, therefore, let you sleep soundly. €25

2. 1. Sweet shaman This beautifully crafted African mask will take your mind on a journey through the savannah. Each one is uniquely designed and carved by hand, making them very high in demand right now. Laying your hands upon one of them can, therefore, be quite the challenge. €189



4. Flying fish By meticulously painting with shadows and brightness, the Japanese create an artwork with every light bulb they ignite. With this fishy lamp, a sparkle of that mysterious oriental brightness will take over your house. Price on request


3. 3. Seat from the south Nothing screams summer more than Portugal’s colourful ‘azulejos’. The Dutch Design Chair brings these trendy tiles to your living room in the shape of a cardboard seat. It can hold up to 200 kilogrammes and comes in a multitude of funky prints. No wonder The New York Times called it a “standout creation”. From €22 8  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

5. Chilling down-under No sport is as popular with the Antipodeans than rugby. This largerthan-life ball brings the stadium to your living room. Its precise finishing and warm colour will let you ‘haka’ for joy. Price on request

‘Haute interior design for everyone’ TEXT: CHÉRINE KOUBAT  |  PHOTOS: ATTILIO PERELLI

Attilio Perelli’s winning concept brings together an interior design agency, a general contractor and savvy decorators under one roof. From its two Belgian-based showrooms, the sophisticated brand specialises in bespoke pieces and tackles an eclectic range of projects all over the world, from private homes in London to luxury hotels along the Mediterranean.

Beautiful things In a past life, Attilio Perelli, creator of the eponymous brand, worked in event planning and organised themed parties for large corporations. His first store, 13 Interior, was a widely successful design gift-shop showcasing his love of beautiful objects. Perelli’s desire to expand his own collection led to his newest venture: 10  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

from handicraft sourced in Africa and Asia to in-house design pieces including sofas, dressers, kitchens and softfurnishings, the emphasis is on quality and uniqueness. As such, Attilio Perelli has developed a number of collaborations with high-end local and foreign brands, for both furniture and decoration staples, including lighting and wallpapers. “We select our partners carefully to give our clients something they couldn’t simply buy online,” he explains. Prestigious names, like PH Edition, Interni Edition, Locherber and Hind Rabii, are regular fixtures in the highly curated collection. Textiles also feature heavily, with refined wallpapers, drapes, blinds and curtains from the likes of Arte and Elitis.

A refined and timeless style A polished aesthetic with perennial appeal, hints of cosiness and exotic touches pervades the showroom. “I call it ’contemporary cottage’ – I know, it sounds funny – but the idea was to achieve a balance between sleek design and cocooning, without fully committing to either,” says the designer. And the result is a timeless, chic yet snug take on interiors, with an emphasis on custom designs and craftsmanship. Perelli seeks inspiration from vintage furniture from the 1950s and 1960s, and gives classic pieces a contemporary twist. A love of exotic woods drives certain designs, with ebony, oak, tamo and walnut taking pride of place. Fine materials from far afield, from the United

Discover Benelux  |  Interior Design  |  Attilio Perelli

States to Africa, feature prominently. “I love mixing the old with the new,” Perelli muses, “updating retro designs and injecting modernity into each one of my pieces”.

Made-to-measure Perelli’s palpable pride is far from forbidding. It goes hand in hand with a deep flexibility, which has won customers over by creating a sense of approachable exclusivity. “Everything is customisable,” he explains. “If you walked into the store and spotted a coffee table, you could have it built higher, get a thinner table-top and switch the legs from wood to metal. Nothing is off-limits.” Catering to customers’ individual tastes is undoubtedly one of their main strengths, and maintaining the Perelli aesthetic while adjusting to

customers’ personal styles is testament to the savviness and tact displayed by the team at work.

A complete experience The design brand’s secret weapon lies in its in-house general contractor company, allowing it to tackle small or complex projects, from conception all the way to completion. “We can answer any client request: we have bricklayers, electricians, tilers, painter decorators, you name it!” explains Perelli. The team displays the same thorough approach throughout, be it for a bespoke dresser or an entire kitchen remodel. They enquire as to the style, colours and materials favoured by clients and assess the practicality and purpose of each project. They plan house visits and, where pos-

sible, tailor every decision to their customers’ needs and preferences. “It really is comparable to haute couture, but for design. It’s haute interior design, and it’s for everyone,” beams Perelli.

Worldwide projects The brand’s reputation far exceeds the local market and attracts a wide array of clients, catering to private customers as well as businesses. From refurbishing luxury holiday villas in Marbella and the south of France to studios, hotels and restaurants, there is no limit to what it can do. Currently wrapping up two construction sites in London, Perelli is excited about what the future holds. Whether you’re looking to enhance, transform or update a space, or buy a single standout piece, this is the place to go. Attilio Perelli locations Chaussée de Waterloo 1472 - 1180 Uccle Monday to Saturday 10 am-18.30 pm Square des Papeteries 32 - 1332 Genval Monday to Saturday 10 am-18.30 pm


Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  11

Mercator Projection by Daniel Lizars (1831). Photo: Wikipedia

Nine Benelux inventions that changed the world forever TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

The North Sea breeze has always created the perfect biotope for innovation. In all corners of the Low Countries, brainiacs come up with convenient solutions for infuriating problems. If it wasn’t for them, listening to jazz, travelling the globe or de-stressing in front of the TV would be a whole different experience today.

1/ Bluetooth Jaap Haartsen, 1994, the Netherlands Initially, nobody really knew what to do with it; today, you can hardly activate a speaker without it. When Ericsson, the Swedish mobile phone mogul, was on the lookout for a way to make cables which connect different devices obsolete, Jaap Haartsen, an electro technologist in the company’s branch in Emmen, was the one who closed the deal. They baptised it Bluetooth, after the Danish Viking leader Harald I, nicknamed Harald Bluetooth, who was the first to forge connections between Scandinavia and the European mainland. Initially, the service was used to share content from one phone to the next. Today, however, Bluetooth is mainly used for connecting headsets, activating printers and even to track traffic jams. 12  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

Photo: Pexels

Discover Benelux  |  Feature  |  Benelux Inventions

Photo: Pixabay

Photo: Pixabay

2/ Plastic Leo Baekeland, 1909, Belgium As the world’s most used material but also the sea’s biggest polluter, plastic is both our panacea and kryptonite. At the break of the 20th century, laboratories in all corners of the world were on the lookout for a strong, cheap and versatile material which would facilitate our mass production. In the end, it was Leo Baekeland, a chemist from Ghent who lived in New York, who created the first Photo: Wikipedia

synthetic polymer and named it Bakelite. The material gained immense popularity worldwide in the production of rotary-dial telephones and toilet tanks. In the 1940s, other synthetic materials were created, replacing Baekeland’s great invention. Learn more about Bakelite and other industrial innovations at Ghent’s Museum of Industry.

Photo: Pixabay

Photo: Pixabay

3/ Orange carrots Unknown, 17th century, the Netherlands Many nearly-mythical stories go around about the benefits of orange carrots. They would improve your vision in the dark and provide you with a stunning pair of peepers. But why are they orange? When the Dutch explorers discovered the carrot in Iran, they came in a myriad of colours, but not orange. A few years later, the Dutch farmers grew the first orange crop, sweeter than its white, yellow and purple counterparts. In 1648, the Dutch drove the Spanish from their territory, letting the Orange dynasty rule the nation. To propagandise, aristocrats painted their houses tangerine and orange trees popped up in their gardens. For common people, however, the oranges were too expensive. Therefore, they harvested carrots galore to join the orange madness. So, whenever the Netherlands turns orange on King’s Day or during the World Cup, know that it all started four centuries ago with carrot-filled fields. Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  13

Discover Benelux  |  Feature  |  Benelux Inventions

4/ Saxophone Adolphe Sax, 1841, Belgium With a surname like his, it is easy to guess which instrument Adolphe Sax invented. The musical instrument manufacturer from Dinant was only 27 years old when he first demonstrated his saxophone at a contest in Brussels. Unfortunately, the jury was not impressed by the brass woodwind instrument and awarded someone else with the first prize. Frustrated by this injustice, Sax left Dinant and moved to Paris, where he became an instrument manufacturer for

the army’s brass band. For the rest of his life, Sax kept believing in his invention but failed to capitalise on it. In 1994, however, the Belgian government finally paid tribute to this brilliant inventor by printing his portrait on the 200 francs banknote, where he would stay until the euro was introduced. Learn more about Sax’s turbulent life at La Maison de Monsieur Sax (Mr Sax’s house) in his hometown, Dinant.

Photo: Pexels

5/ World map Gerardus Mercator, 1569, Belgium Although a Street View walk through the capital of Cambodia or a detailed road description from Lima to Buenos Aires are just a mouse click away these days, mapping out our planet was a life’s work to many a cartographer in the 16th century. The challenge of capturing a globe in a two-dimensional drawing seemed next to impossible to many. In the end, it was the Flemish cosmographer Gerardus Mercator who came up with a solution. By increasingly stretching the map, the further you approached the poles, he drew a rectangular world. To date, the majority of the maps we use are based on this socalled Mercator projection; including the little one, we have on our smartphones. Dive into the world of Mercator and cartography at the Mercator Museum in Sint-Niklaas.

Photo: Pexels

Big Brother. Photo: DPG Media

6/ Reality television John de Mol, 1999, the Netherlands Reality television is almost as old as the medium itself. With candid camera shows and tv-crews following the police around in their daily practice, the television has always been a window into the real world. Yet, in 1999, the Dutch tele14  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

Big Brother. Photo: DPG Media

vision producer John de Mol took this concept to the next level with the creation of Big Brother. Its (by now legendary) concept: lock up a group of strangers in a house and follow them 24/7. The cult show became a massive hit, resulting in remakes in 58 countries and hundreds of spin-offs in all directions. Afterwards,

Big Brother. Photo: DPG Media

De Mol would pen down plenty of other highly-successful concepts such as The Voice and 1 vs. 100. Become a real media mogul at the museum Beeld en Geluid (Image and Sound) in Hilversum.

Discover Benelux  |  Feature  |  Benelux Inventions

7/ Doughnut Dutch Americans, 19th century, the Netherlands Few things ignite an American’s patriotism as much as a nice and creamy doughnut. It is, however, very likely that the Dutch came up with this recipe and brought it to the new world during their big migration. With their famous oliebollen, the Dutch have a long tradition of deep-frying their pastries to perfection. The thick batter of a doughnut, unfortunately, didn’t lend itself to this, because the centre would remain raw. When the Americans tried preparing the delicacy, they came up with a brilliant solution: they cut out the centre before frying them. And so, the lip-smacking, wheel-shaped snack was born and conquered the world. Explore the Netherlands’ sweetest history even further at the Nederlands Bakkerijmuseum (Dutch Bakery Museum) in Hattem.

Photo: Pexels

Olympic Flame, Seoul, 1988. Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Pexels

8/ Birth control pill

9/ Olympic flame

Ferdinand Peeters, 1961, Belgium Although many pharmacists made big leaps in the creation of the birth control pill, it was doctor Ferdinand Peeters who managed to create the first fully functional contraceptive pill. Although his main goal was to manage the excessive birth rate which plagued the rural area around the city of Turnhout, his invention fired the starting gun for the emancipation in Belgium and way beyond. As a Catholic doctor in a Catholic hospital, that was, of course, never his intention. Nonetheless, he kept believing in the advantages of his invention. Even when he got an audience with Pope John XXIII in 1963, he defended ‘the pill’ as “the perfect way to practice the rhythm period more accurately”.

Jan Wils, 1928, the Netherlands It is hard to imagine an opening ceremony of the Olympic Games without its spectacular blaze. Nonetheless, the Olympic flame has only been around since the Olympics in Amsterdam in 1928. Architect Jan Wils dusted off the ancient Greek tradition of having an eternal flame for the duration of the event and lit a humongous torch on top of the stadium. The Olympic torch relay from Mount Olympus to the Olympic venues wasn’t there back then: the Nazis came up with this tradition eight years later when Berlin hosted the event.

Olympic Flame, London, 2012. Photo: Pixabay

Groups can pay a visit to Amsterdam’s Olympic stadium and learn all about this first legendary flame.

Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  15



Live it! Love it! Few Belgians are as patriotic about their city as those from Antwerp. And why wouldn’t they be? The dynamic city has been a hotspot for arts, gastronomy, architecture, fashion and business for centuries and has never failed to remain relevant and to reinvent itself. When in Flanders, make sure you get acquainted with this unique city’s contagious joy de vivre and inspiring sense for entrepreneurship. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: VISIT.FLANDERS/VISIT.ANTWERP


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Discover Benelux  |  Discover Antwerp  |  Live it, Love it!

Central Station.

As Antwerp’s most popular idiom states: “Antwerp’s the city and all the rest is parking space”. Although that might sound a bit pretentious and must — of course — be taken with a grain of salt, it perfectly describes the feeling you have while strolling through the streets of Antwerp. As Belgium’s biggest city (it counts almost three times as many inhabitants as Brussels), the metropole is cloaked in a vibrant, yet warm atmosphere, and counts breathtaking sights galore.


Hidden secrets Upon arrival, you won’t be able to stop yourself from gazing at its eclectic central station, which is often named as one of the prettiest railway stations in the world. Away from the tracks and inside the historic city centre, you will stumble upon many more amazing buildings and surprising hidden secrets. The Cathedral of Our Lady is the elegant queen of Antwerp’s skyline with its 123-metre high clock tower. In its shadow, other ancient

treasures like the medieval Gravensteen castle, the narrow Vlaeykensgang passage and the majestic facades of the guildhalls will leave you breathless.

Modern Yet, stating that Antwerp is nothing more than an ancient city is a flagrant lie. Alongside its many stunning historic houses, the city features some of the nicest modern buildings in the country. The opening of MAS, the Museum at

The Porthouse. Photo: Havenbedrijf Antwerp - Peter Knoop

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Discover Benelux  |  Discover Antwerp  |  Live it, Love it!

The Porthouse. Photo: Havenbedrijf Antwerp - Peter Knoop


the Stream, in 2011, even preluded a new era of innovative gastronomy and avant-garde art at Het Eilandje, now one of Antwerp’s hottest districts. At the water, The Porthouse welcomes the arriving ships as a modern-day lighthouse. Its boat-like design is one of the last creations of world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid, who passed away in 2016.

Art aficionados As diverse as the city’s architecture is the eclectic art it displays. Antwerp’s museums are amongst the best in the country and vary from the contemporary M HKA to the elegant Rubenshuis, which zooms in on the Golden Age and Antwerp’s grandmaster: Pieter-Paul Rubens. As a world capital of fashion, the Modemuseum is an absolute must-see, as well. Housed in Antwerp’s legendary fashion acade18  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

Discover Benelux  |  Discover Antwerp  |  Live it, Love it!

my, it is the exact place where big names like Walter Van Beirendonck and Dirk Bikkembergs learned the tricks of the trade. To put that passion for fashion further into practice, you cannot miss the Meir, either: the biggest shopping street in Belgium.

Grote Markt.

The place to be These last decennia, Antwerp became a business hub to be reckoned with, as well. Its state-of-the-art Flanders Meeting & Convention Centre is the home of some of the world’s most important symposiums and gatherings. As the city also has the second-biggest port in Europe, Antwerp is well on its way to becoming one of Europe’s most important cities, without losing its natural charm and cosiness. Let us introduce you to our favourite spots in the city to sleep, dine and experience… Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  19

Discover Benelux  |  Discover Antwerp  |  Top Places to Stay

In every room, you will find a design chair that has been created especially for the hotel.

A luxurious getaway in the central station’s shadow TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: RADISSON BLU ASTRID ANTWERP

Central in the city of Antwerp, facing the majestic railway station, the Radisson Blu Astrid Antwerp welcomes a wide range of guests into its lush oasis. After an extensive transformation, the city’s biggest hotel looks better than ever. With its many exquisite facilities, it has everything both the tourists’ and business travellers’ heart could desire. “Upon arrival, our modern setting gives you a feeling of coming home,” explains Martijn Dresen, general manager of Radisson Blu Astrid Antwerp. “Our rooms and suites bathe in beauty and elegance without compromising their comfort. In every room, you will even find a design chair that has been created especially for our hotel. Besides stunning, it is also a very comfortable seat to relax and work in.” If you just can’t get enough of Radisson Blu Astrid Antwerp, you might want to book one of its large junior suites or apartment suites for a longer stay. This way, you get full access to the building’s many facilities, including a health centre with a fitness set-up, swimming pool, 20  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

sauna and a myriad of gastronomical paradises. “Besides enjoying a luxurious breakfast while gazing at the central station or slurping your coffee at our in-house Starbucks, you can wine and dine at Made in Antwerp. Here, kitchen prodigy Jorn Moyson and his team turn Belgian classics into surprising, modern dishes.” Big groups can also enjoy these creations in the private setting of The Diamond Room. Here, they can easily cater banquets of up to 100 people. In the other 15 conference rooms, you can host a myriad of activities and meetings for about 500 people. If your business’ aspirations outgrow Radisson Blu Astrid Antwerp’s halls, they happily collaborate with the Flanders Meeting & Convention Centre – which lies just a crossroad away from the hotel lobby – to give shape to your event. “Make sure you visit the recently-opened Chocolate Nation, as well: the largest Belgian chocolate museum in the world which is housed alongside the hotel. The museum is filled with sensory experiences and stories of chocolate brands and

chocolatiers. Chocolate traditions, history, products and innovations are brought to life here. Outdoors, the 19th-century zoo on the other side of the square and the mesmerising historic city centre await you. If you ask one of our local staff members, they will be delighted to share some of their secret insider’s tips with you.”

Chocolate Nation.

Web: astridhotel-antwerp

Discover Benelux  |  Discover Antwerp  |  Top Places to Stay

A connected stay in Flanders’ cosiest neighbourhood TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: AD PHOTOGRAPHY

Thanks to its humble size, Belgium can be explored in just a few wellplanned days. Yet, to avoid losing too much time in transit, booking a well-connected hotel is paramount. At the brand-new Park Inn by Radisson Berchem, Belgium lies at your feet. Located mere minutes from a central train station, a well-connected bus stop, an airport and a gigantic parking lot, this cosy hotel is one of the country’s most accessible getaways. No place in Flanders feels as central as Antwerp’s most beloved suburb, Berchem. Located just minutes away from the dynamic heart of the city, the metropole’s breeze blows through the atmospheric district. Berchem’s railway station, on the other hand, is one of the busiest in the country, offering direct connections to all corners of the nation. “This makes Berchem a perfect hub for both eager tourists and busy travellers,” says Laurent Heusdens, general manager of the new Park Inn by Radisson Berchem. “As our hotel is located next to the railway station,

you can commence your journey as soon as you’ve finished your breakfast.” Those who come by car, don’t have to worry either. With 1,000 parking spots surrounding the hotel, you will never struggle to find one. Since the hotel is located at the border of Antwerp’s low emission zone, even older cars can drive right up to the hotel’s front door. Once inside the Park Inn by Radisson Berchem, a feeling of tranquillity hits you. Earth tones and a strong focus on comfort dominate the cosy rooms. “They are all equipped with the finest quality beds and scrumptious rain showers to reenergise after a busy day in the city. By installing Chromecasts everywhere, people can stream whatever they want to watch.” At the restaurant downstairs, you can take the edge off your appetite at any time of day; from a great breakfast to a tasty dinner or a refreshing cocktail. Feel free to take out your laptop, as well. With its great wireless connection and sockets everywhere, the restaurant doubles as a cosy co-working space. “Yet, what really

sets the Park Inn by Radisson Berchem apart from any other hotel, is our urge to go the extra mile. Whenever an issue pops up, we go to great lengths to solve it straight away. In fact, if you share your problem with us and we can’t fix it for you, we shred your hotel bill into pieces. That is what we call the Happiness Guarantee.”


Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  21

Discover Benelux  |  Discover Antwerp  |  Top Places to Stay

Homely luxury in the south of Antwerp TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PHOTOS: MAISON EMILE

Yannick Meersman and Laurent Pays embarked on the adventure of a lifetime in 2015, when they decided on a drastic career change and bought a run-down hotel in the trendy south quarter of Antwerp. Fast forward to today, and Maison Emile has become a high-quality boutique hotel with excellent ratings and a loyal client base. Maison Emile came about as a combination of chance, luck and a lot of creativity from its owners. “We were looking for a house in Antwerp South, but we happened upon the old Hotel Industrie and were able to buy it. We had little experience in the hospitality sector, so for the first year we kept the old layout and learned as much as we could,” explains Yannick. After the initial learning phase, the couple’s vision for Maison Emile started to take shape and they began refurbishment works. Today, the hotel boasts ten rooms as well as a floor that serves as an apartment for Laurent and Yannick. “We wanted Maison Emile to be the perfect cross between a hotel and a Bed & Breakfast,” 22  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

attests Yannick. “We want to offer all the luxury of a boutique hotel, combined with the personal service of a B&B.”

the couple’s personal service, while some business clients return on a weekly basis, tired of bland business hotels and happy to find a true home away from home.

That vision translates into a hotel where guests can truly feel at home, but also feel special. “We take at least half an hour when guests arrive to discuss their stay and give them personal tips to maximise their enjoyment of Antwerp. We also offer a breakfast buffet full of local ingredients, and we have a selection of Rituals products in every room.”

Trendy area The choice of Antwerp South was an obvious one for Laurent and Yannick. “’t Zuid is teeming with local bars and restaurants, which is also why we don’t serve dinner at the hotel – there’s plenty of choice,” Yannick explains. “At the same time, we’re nicely removed from the noise of the touristy centre, but you can get there in 20 minutes on foot, and the tram passes by our door too.” In a short time, Maison Emile has amassed a loyal client base. Tourists are delighted by

Book your stay online at:

Discover Benelux  |  Discover Antwerp  |  Top Places to Stay Lobby.

Superior Room.


All images and renderings used express impressions. The final product after completion may vary.

A new hotel gem in the city of diamonds TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: NH COLLECTION ANTWERP CENTRE

In all corners of Europe and far beyond, NH Collection, the premium brand from NH Hotel Group, is known for its unique hotels in dynamic metropoles. With the opening of their first location in Antwerp, they continue to live up to this exquisite reputation. Located in the centre of the city’s iconic diamond quarter, NH Collection Antwerp Centre is an elegant urban oasis with a shimmering edge. “NH Collection hotels are more than just a place to stay,” explains Claire Jeunhomme, the general manager of the four-star NH Collection Antwerp Centre, which will open its doors this September. “We care about our guests and go the extra mile to make their stay extraordinary and unforgettable.” That welcoming feeling reverberates through the hotel’s interior, as well. NH Collection Antwerp Centre hides a sparkling touch in every corner of its elegant rooms. Through the big windows which flood the rooms with natural light, you can gaze at Antwerp Central Station, one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world.

“Other rooms look out on our relaxing patio. This urban jungle allows you to escape from the city noise and to catch your breath after a busy working day or an exhausting sightseeing journey.” There is plenty to see and do just a stone’s throw from the hotel lobby. Business travellers can attend the congresses and symposiums at the state-of-theart Flanders Meeting and Convention Centre by foot, as it is housed merely five minutes from the hotel. Other business interests, like Antwerp Expo, are just a short tram ride away. Facing the central station, you sleep just a short walk away from a myriad of high-speed trains and are well-connected with Brussels Airport and other European destinations. Tourists, on the other hand, will be delighted to see that all that’s great about Antwerp lies just walking distance from their bed as well: Belgium’s biggest shopping street, a wide range of museums, exquisite restaurants and the picturesque ancient town. “Even inside the hotel, there is much to do. Work up a sweat at our gym, have a productive

meeting in one of our board or conference rooms or sit down in the bar for a high-end drink and small dishes. NH Collection Antwerp Centre opens its doors in September. Early birds can already book themselves an amazing stay to look forward too.” Claire Jeunhomme.

Stays from €95 per room per night. Web:

Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  23

Discover Benelux  |  Discover Antwerp  |  Top Art & Culture Spots

Photo: Luke Diiorio

The welcoming house of contemporary art TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: GEUKENS & DE VIL, ANTWERP

From the Baroque period onwards, Antwerp has been a vibrant hub for artists and art aficionados. Today, the city proves very attractive for the contemporary art scene’s finest. As one of the oldest contemporary galleries around, Geukens & De Vil has expertise galore in attracting the best in the business and recognising superstars in the making. When they opened their gallery in 1998, art historians Yasmine Geukens and Marie-Paule De Vil chose to settle in the elegant coastal town of Knokke. After nine years, however, the Antwerp-raised duo felt the need to head back to their roots and opened a second branch in Flanders’ most beloved city. “We missed the fuss of the metropole,” Geukens explains. “Back then, Knokke wasn’t the ideal place to skyrocket young and progressive artists from. Here in Antwerp, however, craving for all things new and creative is second nature.” This second branch soon became a sanctuary for contemporary art of all manners. Paintings, complex installations, fascinat24  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

ing photography… all have adorned its walls. “Although our combined taste is very eclectic, we always agree on what to exhibit and which story to tell. That is our biggest strength: the fact that Marie-Paule and I have been on the same page for over two decades already. Geukens & De Vil genuinely reflects both our personalities.” Throughout the years, both the gallery in Antwerp and the one in Knokke have attracted a loyal group of art collectors and enthusiasts. Amongst them are seasoned aficionados and die-hard collectors who know their way around a gallery as well as young and curious cultural novices. “A common misunderstanding about galleries is that you are not welcome if you don’t intend to buy anything. Yet, the opposite is true; everyone who enjoys art is welcome to take a look around. Since our portfolio counts modest pieces of young prodigies as well, besides the more expensive ones from settled values, everyone can buy art here. Young collectors can even purchase a piece of art in instalments here. This way, art is affordable to all.”

Yasmine Geukens and Marie-Paule De Vil.

From September until October, the American artist Luke Diiorio takes over Geukens & De Vil with his monochrome oeuvre, questioning the anatomy of the canvas. In November and December, Antwerp’s Peter De Meyer and Vienna’s Roman Pfeffer engage in dialogue about what it means to be an artist.


Discover Benelux  |  Discover Antwerp  |  Top Places to Eat & Drink

Fabio Gambone and Deby Patinama.

Fine Italian dining amongst divas TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: KOEN DHOLLANDER

Not only is Italy the birthplace of delicious dishes like linguine alla vongole and ossobuco, but it is also a nation of exquisite cinema. Mediterranean silver screen stars like Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale are legendary in all corners of the world. At the authentic restaurant I Famosi, these divas accompany you while you enjoy an exquisite southern dinner. “12 years ago, my husband and I decided to open an authentic trattoria in the heart of Antwerp,” says Deby Patinama, who runs I Famosi together with her husband Fabio Gambone. “Since both of us adore Italian cinema, we adorned our walls with their glamorous headshots. Alongside legendary actors like Rossellini, Benigni and De Sica, directors like Bertolucci and Italian-Americans stars such Al Pacino got a spot as well.” Besides the portraits, the Italian-made wood panelling completes the authentic Mediterranean experience. It is, therefore, no surprise that many an Italian expat finds his way to I 26  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

Famosi whenever he craves the flavours of his mother country. “We never compromise the roots of the food we serve. You won’t find a tiramisu with a Belgian edge or a vitello tonato à la Française here. All dishes on our menu are 100 per cent Italian. That doesn’t mean that we don’t innovate and modernise, though. In our suggestions list, you might stumble upon a few classics with a contemporary touch, as well.” Every so often, I Famosi even organises theme nights, focusing on one Italian region. In July, Calabrian food and wines are the centre of attention for a night. To achieve that authentic southern taste, I Famosi imports the finest ingredients from small suppliers in Italy only. This way, they also lay their hands on the finest wines in the country. “Our sommelier knows the Italian wine culture like the back of his hand. Upon simple request, he takes you on a tour through our glass wine cellar, which you can gaze at from your table. Besides our many exquisite, yet affordable, wines, it guards a

few exclusive bottles to celebrate a special occasion with.” Since just recently, I Famosi also opens for lunch from Tuesday until Friday as well as on Sunday. On summer days, you can enjoy your lunch at their delightful, sunny terrace and imagine yourself in breathtaking Italy.

Photo: I Famosi


Discover Benelux  |  Discover Antwerp  |  Top Places to Eat & Drink

Bringing Tokyo to the city TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: DIM DINING

We all know sushi as the signature dish of Japanese cuisine. But many of us may not know the high place that fine dining holds in Japanese culture. At his Antwerp restaurant Dim Dining, located on the Vrijdagmarkt, Jonas Kellens offers the perfect introduction. “It’s all about origin, combinations, exquisite food, and – of course – sake.” Open from Wednesday to Saturday, Dim Dining takes you on a culinary journey, where Asian meets Western culture. “Traditional Japanese food is often considered to be plain, but our

kitchen knows to maintain a perfect balance. All our products are fresh daily and prepared in the Japanese tradition; right in front of you.” To provide this level of excellence, the ike-jime method guarantees sustainability and prevents the fish from suffering stress and losing quality. “On top of this our sake sommelier will guide you to experience the true flavours of Japan.” For Jonas and his team it is all about the details, which Dim offers its guests in abundance. Expect an exclusive, intimate and personal setting, and top-notch ingredients combined with love for food and sake. “Our

chef’s choice, Omakase, is the perfect opportunity to taste the best of what Japanese cuisine has to offer you in up to 12 courses. On the other hand, it is also possible to opt for an à la carte dining experience.” Dim Dining is the crossroads of two culinary cultures, right in the heart of the city. It is where Tokyo meets Antwerp and Antwerp meets Tokyo.


Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  27

28  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Angelique Van Ombergen


On a mission Earlier this year, Belgian scientist Angelique Van Ombergen gained international attention thanks to her appearance on Forbes magazine’s prestigious 30 under 30 list for Europe. The Beveren native, who also scooped the Flemish PhD Cup in 2018 for her research into space travel’s effect on the brain, now works as a science coordinator for the European Space Agency’s human research programme. She also finds time to write children’s books, not to mention being involved in various initiatives to engage young people with science. We caught up with Van Ombergen to find out more about her mission to bring science to the masses. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: KEVIN FAINGNAERT

“I think it was just something that was intrinsically there for me,” muses the academic, reflecting on when her passion for science emerged. “When I was younger, I just wanted to know why things happened — and how they happened. I used to have a microscope when I was little — I really enjoyed that. I was very keen on reading encyclopaedias, National Geographic, all those kinds of things.

at Ghent University, before embarking on her PhD at the University of Antwerp in 2013. Her field of expertise? The way human bodies react to space flight. “We basically investigated what happens to the brains of astronauts,” explains Van Ombergen. “We performed MRI scans before and after space flights. This really enabled us to compare the scans very well and pinpoint exactly how and where changes occur in the brain.”

“To be honest, I was also not a very sporty person and I wasn’t very creative as a child, but learning was something I was really good at. I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much.”

“In the brain you have grey matter — basically the building blocks of the brain. What we see is that after space flight, this grey matter decreases in volume, and this is still clear a few months after the return from space.”

Pioneering research After excelling in latin, maths and, of course, science at school, Van Ombergen went on to study audiological science

These findings may sound alarming, but as Van Ombergen points out, the changes picked up on are very slight.

“It’s important to realise that our methods are very sensitive, so we pick up very small changes. This does not necessarily mean that astronauts are affected by it. “I always compare it to your arm — if you measured it and it became a little bit smaller you could measure the difference, but that wouldn’t mean you would have issues using it. This was just the first phase of the research, and obviously in the future this will be built on and the changes will be quantified to see what this means for the astronauts on a daily basis.”

Public space Making science accessible is something Van Ombergen is very passionate about. “Scientists are often under a lot of pressure to stay within the field of academia, but it’s a very good exercise to try Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  29

Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Angelique Van Ombergen

Angelique Van Ombergen has released two children’s books: In Mijn Hoofd (In My Head) and Reis Naar De Sterren (Journey to the Stars).

and think about what your results mean on a larger scale — for example, what does it mean for the larger general public? What are the implications for them?” “I know a lot of my colleagues don’t like it when I say it, but I also think it’s a little bit of a must: a lot of scientists get paid by public money and in that sense I think it’s a part of our job to translate the results back to the public. In general, they are very eager to learn about it and engage in it.” For the past five years, Van Ombergen has been very actively involved in setting up science communication initiatives, not to mention regularly holding workshops and giving lectures. “I’ve even started organising space camps for children aged between ten and 12 with a friend of mine,” she enthuses. “That’s something that I enjoy a lot, and that I also find very important.”

Children’s books Another way that Van Ombergen is making science more attainable for the younger generation is via her children’s books — the first of which, In Mijn Hoofd (In My Head) was published last year for 30  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

children aged nine upwards. “It basically explores how the human brain works. There’s a lot of information in a way that is accessible and relatable, with a lot of images, jokes and things like that,” she reveals. Her second children’s book, Reis Naar De Sterren (Journey to the Stars) was released in May. “It’s about aerospace,” explains Van Ombergen. “I wrote it together with an aerospace engineer. He wrote about satellites and things like that, while I wrote more about my specialty — which is what happens to the human body in space, how astronauts train…the more human aspects of space flights.” Van Ombergen’s books will no doubt help to instil a passion for learning amongst its young readers, and the scientist is eager to point out how important it is for her to be a role model to them. “I do find it incredibly important as a scientist, and especially as a female scientist, to be visible,” she asserts. “I think there’s still a lot of implicit bias going on: for example, about what a scientist looks like — which is usually white, middle aged and male — that is definitely not the case.”

Closing the dream gap Van Ombergen is also involved in the Dream Gap Project, organised by Barbie manufacturer Mattel, which aims to show girls more role models on an international scale. The company recruited role models from across the globe in different fields, and Van Ombergen was recruited for the space field in Belgium. “The main goal of this initiative is to close the dream gap. Research has shown that young girls stop believing they can be anything or that they can pursue a career in anything at the age of five or six. They get the idea ‘ok maybe I cannot be an astronaut, maybe I cannot be a firefighter because that’s something for men or because I will not be good enough’,” laments Van Ombergen. “It’s very important not only for girls, whom I value a lot, but also for younger boys to see that women can be experts in science and technology too. I think it’s a combination of both inspiring girls and showing boys that it’s normal that women are good at what they do — whatever that is.”

Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  31

Concertgebouw, South.


The ultimate destination Amsterdam has more identities than there are cardinal directions. In every corner of the city, as well as in its vibrant centre, you stumble upon different sights, different people and different accents. Join us on a dynamic trip through Amsterdam’s diverse biotopes. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: NBTC


32  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  The Ultimate Destination

Rijksmuseum, South.

Van Gogh Museum, Centre.

Vondelpark, South.

Few city centres are as iconic as Amsterdam’s. With picturesque canals and streams wherever you look, just strolling alongside the water is a feast for the eyes. Yet, there is way more to explore than just the facades of the iconic canal houses.

here are still up and running, the streets are a first-class tourist hotspot today. The city centre also counts a lot of hidden secrets — peak behind every corner and you could stumble upon something great and unexpected.

From the heart

Mingle with locals

In the heart of the city, where you would least expect it, is the immense Royal Palace of Amsterdam. Art lovers might rather head to the Van Gogh Museum, where you can gaze at the work of the Netherlands’ most celebrated artist up close. Don’t miss De Wallen, the city’s world-famous red-light district, either. Although most of the businesses you pass

If you follow the water, you might end up in De Jordaan, Amsterdam’s most authentic and folkloristic neighbourhood. Although many a tourist knows the way to this district, it has never lost its authentic vibe. Go on a shopping spree with the locals in De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Streets) or the Noordermarkt (the Northern Market) or mingle with the locals at

Anne Frank House, De Jordaan.

one of the many traditional pubs. In between De Jordaan and the city centre, you can also visit the city’s most famous museum: the Anne Frank House.

Go west Further west, you enter an Amsterdam full of culture, gastronomy and young blood. In and around the Westergas cultural centre, there is always something to explore. Many a festival strikes down here and so too do food happenings and fairs of all sorts. However crowded the cultural centre and its surroundings might get sometimes, tranquillity is never far away in the green oasis of the nearby Westerpark. Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  33

Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  The Ultimate Destination

Valeriusplein, South. Photo: Koen Smilde Photography

34  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  The Ultimate Destination

Canal Houses, Centre.

Authentic To experience Amsterdam in its purest form, the best places to go are the northern and eastern edge of the city. Here, tourists are a rare breed, making them the ideal neighbourhoods to live like a local. With its green villages, multicultural streets, experimental festivals and stunning waterside terraces, there is plenty to experience for those trying to avoid the obvious paths and tourist traps.

Lush More southwards, you enter the lushest part of the city. Here, wide avenues and monumental mansions connect the Rijksmuseum, the Vondelpark and the Concertgebouw with each other. So, which Amsterdam do you want to explore? Dive into this exciting special and discover our favourite spots in all the neighbourhoods of the fascinating Dutch capital.

Westergas, West.Photo: Koen Smilde Photography

Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  35

Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  City Centre Highlights

The science of cycling at NEMO Science Museum TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: DIGIDAAN

What are the Dutch if not a nation of cyclists? To the supermarket, to the office: they do it all by bicycle. At the summer programme Brilliant Bicycles, Amsterdam’s NEMO Science Museum zooms in on their beloved mechanical steed with a range of exciting experiments and amazing activities. With its unique shape and deep green-blue colour, NEMO Science Museum is a dominant landmark on Amsterdam’s skyline. On its roof, a high-altitude piazza stretches out, offering a breathtaking view of the city. During summer, the roof is open until 9pm, for seven days a week; making it the ideal spot to see the sun sink behind the high-rises. On Thursdays, music and beer tastings spruce up the balmy nights. Yet, the museum’s biggest summer attraction is housed inside the building. With its temporary exhibition, Brilliant Bicycles, NEMO puts the spotlights on our beloved bikes. “We take a closer look at the bi36  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

cycle in all its aspects,” says Anne-Marie Gielis, senior marketer at NEMO Science Museum. “By means of three moving installation pieces by Charlotte van Otterloo, we show how it has evolved throughout the years. A bit further, an experiment explains how a bicycle remains balanced.” Crafty cyclists might want to create their own bicycle gadget in the atelier further on. A flower pot for your handlebar? A crazy bell? If you can imagine it, you can make it! “You can also design your dream bike on paper and ride it with a little help from a green screen.” Away from the peloton, NEMO offers plenty more hands-on, educational games and experiments. At The Machine, you become a logistics expert by sending packages around the globe, and at the museum’s Laboratory, you can grab yourself a lab coat and safety goggles and perform your own chemistry experiments. World of Shapes teaches the youngest about the shapes surrounding them while

The Lightning Globe rushes electricity through your body without you feeling a thing. The exhibition Teen Facts talks about puberty and those raging hormones that come with it. Those who still want to visit this last one, however, might want to hurry, since it will permanently close on 1 August. From 23 November on, Humania will take its place, taking you on a fascinating journey through the human body.

Brilliant Bicycles runs until 1 September.


Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  City Centre Highlights

Photo: Dennis Bouman

Amsterdam’s newest culinary hotspot TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK  |  PHOTOS: THE FOOD DEPARTMENT

The sumptuous Magna Plaza, one of the top 100 Dutch UNESCO monuments, is now home to The Food Department. With 14 diverse food stands and three drinks bars, the Dutch capital’s newest culinary hotspot promises to tempt foodies with everything from freshly shucked oysters to Amsterdam’s best burgers. The location alone couldn’t have been more spectacular. Situated in one of Amsterdam’s most iconic buildings, is a gourmet wonderland where some of the city’s finest food entrepreneurs have gathered in a space that’s as pleasing to the eye as their creations are to the palate. It’s hard to believe that the windows of the second floor in the Magna Plaza (an imposing shopping mall on the back of Dam Square and originally Amsterdam’s main post office) had remained closed for years, blocking off some of the most spectacular views over the heart of the city. After a complete renovation, however, the area is now flooded with light and

the perfect spot to enjoy great food while admiring panoramic vistas. Behind this exciting food hub are Laurens van Rooijen and Edwin Spier. According to Van Rooijen, The Food Department should not be confused with a food court, which is complementary to shops. “We are a food hall, and therefore, a destination in itself. Though we are located in a shopping centre, we do not only focus on people who go there to shop. This is a place where you can head to for dinner on a Friday night. Our focus is foodies.” Catering to the millions who pass by annually, The Food Department aims to appeal to both travellers and city dwellers. Especially important, says Van Rooijen, was to find “a small selection of Amsterdam’s finest food concepts”. Though the kitchens are very diverse (you’ll find tacos, sushi, French pastries, seafood and more), they all represent the best that Amsterdam has to offer. “It’s high-quality food at reasonable prices,” adds Van Rooijen.

The Food Department’s three attractive bars serve everything from a good cup of coffee to a zesty smoothie or refreshing cocktail, making it a great place to meet friends for drinks or stop for a break while shopping or sightseeing. The Food Department is, in fact, a miniature version of Amsterdam condensed into 1,100 square metres. Passion for refined cuisine, an invitingly casual ambiance and awesome views make this a must-see for anyone visiting the Dutch capital.

Edwin Spier (left) and Laurens van Rooijen.


Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  37

Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  City Centre Highlights Chef Moshik Roth.

Emotion translated to food TEXT: KARIN VENEMA  |  PHOTOS: &MOSHIK

Located in the heart of Amsterdam, with views overlooking its famous canals, &moshik is the brainchild of two-Michelin-star chef Moshik Roth, who uses his talents to take diners on a gastronomic journey. Eating at this revered establishment is nothing short of theatre, as dishes are presented — and many created — at your table.

sets out to surprise and serve his guests with an emotional culinary encounter.

our performance until we earn it. And of course, after that as well.”

“At &moshik we offer an evening full of experiences. It’s like going to the theatre: a story is being told. We touch people’s hearts through their taste buds, inviting them to feel the emotions that are captured in the dishes.”

The young Roth started his career as a pizzeria manager in Amsterdam. In his spare time, he became fascinated by haute cuisine and vouched to become a renowned chef. After working in several Michelin-star restaurants, owning his own restaurant and receiving his own Michelin stars, Roth opened &moshik in 2012. Within three months of opening, Moshik and his dedicated team received two Michelin stars. Seven years later, the restaurant is still going strong.

Diners can opt for a small or large ‘inspiration menu’ containing eight expertly crafted dishes, the vegetarian eightcourse ‘Menu du jardin’, the surprise menu of overwhelming appetisers, or choose à la carte. All options display refined combinations, like North Sea cod with cockles and green peas miso, or white asparagus with tomato and goat’s cheese.

&moshik has been praised and revered by countless visitors. “Moshik Roth invites you on an adventure. This fashionable establishment will take you from one pleasant surprise to the next. The chef knows how to combine inventiveness with refinement for a fantastic flavour experience, extracting the best from top-quality ingredients with absolute precision,” writes the Michelin guide.

The success of &moshik, which is located just a few steps from Central Station, can be put down to quality, consistency and passion. “I don’t go to work, I am meeting my own child,” smiles Roth, who 38  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

Accompanying the food is an equally superb wine list, and a team that is dedicated to ensuring guests have an outstanding time. “We focus on creating a maximum quality experience,” says Roth. “It’s my dream to have that third Michelin star, and we will keep enhancing

But words cannot truly capture the full span of the &moshik experience - you really need to pay this unique restaurant a visit and discover for yourself.

&moshik Oosterdokskade 5, 1011 AD Amsterdam

Web: Tel: + 31 (0) 20 260 20 94 Email:

Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  City Centre Highlights


Before, it was the financial heart of Amsterdam: today, it houses a culinary paradise. Within the walls of the Beurs van Berlage, the city’s former commodity market, Bistro Berlage serves fine Dutch cuisine and surprising snacks in a spectacular setting. “The bistro’s history goes way back,” says marketing manager Willemijn de Vet. “Where you enjoy your lunch or dinner today, stockbrokers used to enter their temple to trade their way to success. The elegant brickwork and colourful tile tableaus against the

walls, still remind us of the building’s rich history.” Together with the modern, elegant furniture and mesmerising golden bar in the centre, these elements give Bistro Berlage its unique and welcoming atmosphere. Outside, at its sun-drenched terrace at the dynamic Beursplein, you can gaze at Amsterdam’s diverse footfall for hours. With over 300,000 people passing the square every week, there is never a dull moment. Besides being a treat for the eyes, Bistro Berlage also knows how to enchant your taste buds. For lunch, a wide selection of

tostadas, salads and other snacks take the edge off your appetite. After sunset, refined Dutch classics with a surprising twist adorn the menu. “By choosing seasonal vegetables and collaborating with the city’s best cheese makers, butchers and bakeries, we really serve you a piece of Amsterdam. Since we change our entire menu every six months and have another special every week, there is always something new to discover at Bistro Berlage.” Web:

Madam Pancake: The ultimate pancake experience TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTO: MADAM PANCAKE

The Netherlands may play host to numerous pancake restaurants, but Madam Pancake is the one you really don’t want to miss. In his kitchen, Amsterdam’s most dynamic chef, Mohamed Mahraoui, creates the craziest sweet and savoury creations, which look just as great as they taste. Have you ever eaten a pancake with scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and sour cream? Or one with yogurt, granola and berries? At Madam Pancake, quirky creations like these are the centre of attention. “We create culinary pancakes which amaze from the first look until the last bite,” says co-owner Rutger Stout. “We use the best ingredients and pair them up in unique combinations.” The savoury ‘The Hangover’ is one of their absolute bestsellers, with bacon, sausages, sour cream and candied onions. People with a sweet tooth might,

however, have their mouths start to water while thinking about ‘The Peanut Banana’: a pancake with banana slices and slightly melting peanut butter and homemade chocolate. Since choosing is losing, you can also step things up a gear and opt for the ‘Pimp Your Pancake’. “To pimp your pancake, we serve you plain pancakes and a myriad of sweet or savoury toppings. This way, you can create your perfect snack with syrups, berries, dragon fruit, chocolate, bacon, eggs…The sky is the limit!” To allow everyone to enjoy the sweet delight of pancakes, Madam Pancake also offers glutenand lactose-free varieties, as well as whole wheat and matcha versions. Furthermore, you can opt for a delicious breakfast bowl with acai, avocado, oats and many other healthy indulgences. “Madam Pancake is a place to revel in with all your senses. Life is too short not to enjoy great food.”

Blueberry pancake.

Pimp your pancake.


Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  39

Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  City Centre Highlights

The last of Amsterdam’s authentic diners TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: EETCAFÉ HET PAKHUIS

In the touristic centre of Amsterdam, an authentic place to take the edge off your appetite can be hard to find. Eetcafé Het Pakhuis is one of the last of its kind. In the atmospheric diner, you will find the best Dutch classics for a reasonable price. Don’t believe us? Ask one of the many locals who regularly grab a bite to eat here! When entering Eetcafé Het Pakhuis, you get transported to the Amsterdam of yore. Its warm colours, wooden panelling and tenderly-

lit bar make you feel welcome in a heartbeat. “For over 50 years already, locals, tourists and day-trippers have fallen in love with our unique décor,” says owner Klaas Veenhoven. “Surrounding us, you find many trendy bars and restaurants, but none are as authentic as ours.” On top of its charming character, Eetcafé Het Pakhuis’ affordable prices surprise many a client when they open the menu. For anything between five and 25 euros, you can enjoy a generous Dutch feast with nothing but quality products. “At noon, we invite you

for some tasty croquettes or an ‘uitsmijter’ (sliced bread with ham, cheese and a fried egg on top). We also have plenty of different pancakes, both the sweet and the savoury ones.” For dinner, the chef recommends his acclaimed schnitzel, spare ribs or satay. Nonetheless, the vegetarian courses and fish dishes have proven to be real crowd-pleasers as well. “Even if you have allergies, we go to great lengths to take them into account. This way, everyone can enjoy a worry-free meal at Eetcafé Het Pakhuis.”


Bagels, coffee and happiness TEXT AND PHOTOS: BAGELS & BEANS

A place where the issues of the day make way for a moment of tranquillity and something special: at Bagels & Beans, different rules apply. You feel it as soon as you walk through the door. “We want you to leave happier than when you came in. It’s been that way since 1996, when we started out on Ferdinand Bolstraat in Amsterdam,” smiles owner Ronald Bakker. At the time, the bagel was hugely popular in America, but barely known on Dutch soil. Bagels & Beans is responsible for putting it on the map in the Netherlands. “Right from the start in 1996, we focused on natural products and socially responsible food. That includes coffee beans from a small-scale plantation family in Panama. We believe that healthy, sustainable and delicious go together perfectly. That quality is more important than 40  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

profit. We approach life with an open mind in a committed but non-judgemental way. We all make our own choices.” On the menu you can find delicious coffees, bagels, fresh juices, salads and more. Why not enjoy coffee or tea with a treat, or perhaps a bagel filled with goats cheese or smoked chicken and avocado? Freshly prepared, ready within minutes and served with a smile. “We are big fans of slowing down to leisurely savour the flavour, but we understand that

sometimes you are in a hurry. That’s why all our yummy things are also available as a takeaway for home, the office or on the road.” Are you already excited to visit Bagels & Beans? Good news: there are 22 stores in Amsterdam. From extensive breakfasts, a relaxed cup of coffee or a quick lunch, you are always welcome. Check the store locator on the website to find a Bagels & Beans in the city.


Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  De Jordaan Highlights

As refined and sustainable as Dutch cuisine can be TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: L’INVITÉ

According to common belief, Dutch cuisine consists of little more than hotchpotch and croquettes ‘from the wall’. Nonetheless, the gastronomy of the Low Countries is as diverse as it is tasty. Hidden at the tranquil Bloemgracht, one of Amsterdam’s best-kept secrets, restaurant L’Invité serves the finest and most innovative food the Netherlands has to offer in a sustainable and local way. “A vast majority of our products come from Dutch soil,” says Sico de Moel, chef and owner of restaurant L’Invité. Throughout the years, he became an expert in turning ordinary Dutch ingredients into edible pieces of art with a hint of patriotism. “Not only does that local philosophy make our dishes tastier and more authentic, but it is also a very sustainable way of working with food. As an ambassador of the Good Fish Foundation, I solely serve sustainablycaught fish. Whatever seafood you eat here, it is all caught in the North Sea or the Dutch inland waters, while causing as little damage to the rest of the un42  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

derwater biotope as possible.” For his fruits and vegetables, he collaborates with local farmers and his meat is all Dutch game. “We even have a sizeable Dutch wine list, the biggest one in the country. Although winemaking is a rather recent phenomenon in the Netherlands, some Vintners have created exquisite bottles already. As I have a good relationship with the best of them, L’Invité is one of the few places where you can taste their wines.” To experience this so-called ‘New Dutch Cuisine’ to the fullest, the Dutch Tasting Menu is the way to go. This journey of seven well-balanced, nutritious, light and surprising courses introduces you to the versatility of Dutch gastronomy. With razor clams from Zeeland and lamb from the isle of Texel, you can sample all corners of the Netherlands in one evening. “Every season, we change the entire menu. However, given that we only work with local products, we have to make some minor adjustments according to the availability of our ingredients constantly.” Ideally, De Moel wants

his guests to not read the menu at all and allow them to be surprised. “As I always serve the dishes myself, I like to explain what you are about to eat myself. To me, these personal touches are paramount in creating an extraordinary fine-dining experience.”

Sico de Moel.


Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  De Jordaan Highlights

Discover a hidden wine bar Back in the 1950s, the Jordaan area was facing threats to be torn down, so a collective of local families fought back by buying derelict buildings to secure the town’s existence. In 1961, things started to accelerate, as a new law was put in place protecting the old buildings. One of these was a family home, carefully hidden behind the Noorderkerk. It is this building that hosts one of Amsterdam’s most exciting wine bars, diVino. At diVino, warm, family-like hospitality and a cosy atmosphere accompany organic wines and authentic Italian dishes unlike anywhere else in Amsterdam. The wines, all of which are imported from family-run, Italian farms, are the reason people will cycle the extra mile to find diVino – with Bianco Di Fata and Nero Si, brewed in the house Judeka on Sicily, being sold exclusively at this venue. To complement the wine, diVino’s chef Paolo prepares a range of traditional antipasti and cut-upon-order cheese and meat boards, as well as weekly-changing dinner courses. The

meals – which include vegan options – are all authentically Italian and made with the best and freshest ingredients that get flown in from the chef’s hometown of Naples. In terms of ideal guests, diVino wants to reach people who love outstanding wines, and has built up a large clientele through primarily word of mouth recommendations. The intimate vibe of diVino – which can seat up to 40 people thanks to its unique entresol which looks out on the Noorderkerk – makes the bar a hotspot for dates, as well as a famous spot for locals and tourists. The venue also accommodates for


larger groups, providing the perfect location for an evening celebrating with wine – no matter what the occasion.


Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  43

Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  Amsterdam West Highlights

Waterside dining with a twist TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: PONT 13

Moored in the former Wood Harbour of Amsterdam, Pont 13 combines an unbeatable location with a robust yet laidback charm and stunning food, proving that all good things in life can be best enjoyed from the water. When entering Pont 13, one cannot do much more than simply take it all in: the huge windows, the industrial metal, the scent of delicious food. The restaurant is located in a former ferry (pont) anno 1927, that once transported passengers over the IJ river, and everything about Pont 13 still breathes the romantic post-industrial vibe of this unique piece of heritage. An absolute showpiece of the room is the old diesel tank. “When we welcome our guests, the tank is often the first thing they want to see up close,” enthuses Onno Zwart, owner of Pont 13. 44  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

However, Pont 13’s food is definitely not upstaged by its view or interior. The large authentic charcoal grill enhances the feeling of sturdy excellence, perfectly preparing this season’s delicacies such as fresh fish or mouthwatering grilled meat. Besides an extensive wine menu, a great focus lies on specialty beers. “We call them our superb specialty beers, each with their own ingredients, taste, and heritage,” says Zwart.

Whether you just want to have coffee, enjoy lunch or dinner, or hold a private event such as a wedding or business outing: anything is possible at Pont 13. And don’t forget you can also visit by boat. But no matter why you are visiting, the ever-relaxed atmosphere will always welcome you – accompanied by the most unique setting possible.

DID YOU KNOW? Pont 13 consists of more than 200,000 kilogrammes of steel. Pont 13 still has its original wooden floor. Pont 13 has crossed the IJ for 50 years.


Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  Amsterdam West Highlights

Historic dinner with a spectacular view TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK  |  PHOTOS: REM EILAND

You see it from afar: the striking red and white structure towers 22 metres above the IJ river, building your expectations for an adventure. REM Eiland is an extraordinary restaurant in every way, from the breathtaking views to its fascinating history. Your adventure starts when you climb the steep metal stairs and reach the platform. Your reward is a beautiful 360degree panoramic view over Amsterdam and a restaurant unlike anything you have seen before. The dining rooms are located on wraparound platforms, with an ex-helipad all around. When stepping into the restaurant, the black and white photos on the walls already provide a glimpse into history. “REM Eiland was built in the 1960s

as a pirate television tower, set up by clever entrepreneurs to avoid the Netherlands’ restrictions on the broadcasting of commercial shows,” explains Onno Zwart, owner of REM Eiland. “However, the tower was shut down by the government after just a couple of months, and then served as a monitoring post.” Luckily for everyone, the island was transformed into a restaurant. In an industrial setting, REM serves FrenchEuropean dishes for lunch and dinner. A brand-new menu created by the chef awaits: fresh seafood, high-quality meat, all topped off with excellent wines. Due to its fantastic location, REM Eiland is a favourite spot for small meetings and presentations held in their multifunctional space ‘Studio REM’.

In the summer, the rooftop bar is the best place for drinks. The combination of great food and a unique location make REM Eiland a memorable adventure, made even more special by the turbulent history. “REM’s history is the cherry on the cake. We make sure no one leaves without knowing our fantastic story!”


Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  45

Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  Amsterdam West Highlights

Delectable soul food, hospitality and island vibes TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK  |  PHOTOS: PLATO LOCO

Since 2015, Plato Loco has been dishing up vibrant cuisine infused with rich culture. If you’re craving an indulgent culinary escape in the Dutch capital, you’ve come to the right place. There’s plenty of good food to be found at this inviting gem of a restaurant – from golden empanadas to their signature jerk chicken. After hosting a few successful pop-up events centred around Caribbean cuisine, Magdalena Tsiavdartzi and her former partner knew the time was ripe. Inspired by travels through the colourful islands that stretch between Florida and Venezuela, they decided to bring the sun-drenched flavours of the Caribbean to the heart of Amsterdam. “Caribbean cuisine is a fusion of African, Latin American, Indian, European and Chinese food with influences from trading history and mixed cultures,” she explains. It beautifully reflects the diversity of the island’s people and makes 46  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

use of warm, sunny ingredients such as allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and hot pepper. With staples including plantains, rice, beans and cassava, you can expect dishes that are hearty and satisfying. Plato Loco prides itself on serving only the freshest homemade fare peppered with generous amounts of love and attention. Therefore, aside from a selection of starters, there are only five mains on the menu. A must is the irresistibly tender and fragrant Jamaican jerk chicken which is marinated in aromatic seasonings for 24 hours and served with rice, salad and ‘maduros’ (sweet, fried plantains). Along with their Caribbean-style spareribs, this is one of their standard dishes. The menu, however, does change every month and there is always a vegetarian option on offer. Another winning creation currently served is the ‘Pastelon’, a Puerto Rican lasagne consisting of layers of plantain, beef, spinach and cheese.

Though the restaurant’s interior is warm and cosy, when the weather permits, their terrace is the perfect spot to transport the taste buds to sunnier climes. Plato Loco is located in a quiet, residential area (yet a stone’s throw away from the lively Jordaan), meaning you’ll be guaranteed a relaxing atmosphere away from the city’s hustle and bustle. In the mood for a tipple? Their boozy rum punch or one of their selections of rums will not disappoint. With its delectable soul food, hospitality and happy island vibes, Plato Loco is definitely one of the restaurants you’ll want to check out the next time you’re in Amsterdam. Just remember to book your table in advance!


Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  Amsterdam East Highlights / Amsterdam Noord Highlights

The city hotel that guests come home to TEXT: KARIN VENEMA  |  PHOTOS: HOTEL ARENA

Hotel Arena is an extraordinary hotel with deep roots in Amsterdam and its feet in the grass of the Oosterpark. The monumental building encourages special encounters between ordinary people, as well as ordinary encounters between special people. It is the place where you can drink, eat, work, sleep and dance. Where you chat and listen, discover and explore, go out and come home. Hotel Arena is situated at the edge of Amsterdam city centre and is accessible through the Oosterpark. The monumental building was constructed in 1886 and,

throughout the years, it has been transformed from a Catholic orphanage to a four-star hotel. The monumental ornaments, such as the original cast iron and marble staircase and the restored chapel, have been kept in their original state. These elements coexist with a modern design and vibe, which is visible in the hotel rooms, PARK Café-Restaurant, the alluring Salon, and the creative meeting and event Studios. “We offer our guests an unforgettable experience by exceeding their expectations,” explains Pieter Jan Huizinga, commercial manager at Hotel Arena. The hotel is a great

starting point to explore Amsterdam, while also offering much of what makes the city great on its premises. “Not only do we have a beautiful building and interior, we also have an intimate patio, a massive sunny terrace, and the park on our doorstep. The other day, a company that held a congress at our hotel said that they wanted our hotel to become the temple of their business. A lovely compliment for our hotel and service, where our aim is to make our guests feel at home.” Web:

The local living room TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTO: CAFÉ ONS

Whatever their walk of life, everyone is welcome at Café ONS. Whether you are a local ‘from the North’ or a tourist visiting Amsterdam, you will feel right at home at Café ONS on the Buiksloterweg, just a five-minute walk from the city centre. Café ONS is just a short walk from the ferry. The small and cosy café feels like a living room with the vibe of an Ibiza-style lounge bar. “It is a place for everybody. There is nowhere like ONS in the rest of the neighbourhood,” explains a regular guest . You can recognise the venue by its covered garden, where you can enjoy one of the local beers or a top-notch gin and tonic. The terrace on the Ranonkelkade side has all-day sun coverage. At night, they fire up the old wood stove. “With the heated garden, people just want to stay and relax. That’s what it’s all about.” “We have a no-nonsense menu, made 48  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

with fresh produce - and love.” All dishes offer something different. The ‘wannabe pizza’ is a richly prepared falafel that looks like a pizza with a twist. In the mood for sharing? Try the ONS platter, with hot and cold nibbles. When it comes to sweets, guests love their homemade apple

pie. “They always come back for more!” If you are exploring Amsterdam North, be sure to stop by at Café ONS, where you can unwind in comfort. “We want this to be a place where people come together. Where people feel at home.”


Sustainable lifestyle and circular cuisine in Amsterdam’s business hotspot TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: CIRCL

Located in the front garden of the ABN AMRO headquarters, circular platform CIRCL brings people together and encourages others to take steps towards a more sustainable environment. “Everybody is talking about sustainability, but there’s a big difference between saying it and showing that you care,” CIRCL director Merijn van den Bergh tells us. “We wanted to make a positive impact on our surroundings, and that’s how CIRCL was born.” Van den Bergh was involved with the CIRCL project from the very beginning. As director, he is responsible for the way in which people operate and col50  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

laborate across the organisation, and it is his main goal to ensure that circularity is at the heart of everything they do.

ly had to get used to. No one really knew what circularity was, so there was a huge amount to learn and to discover.”

A learning curve

Now, almost two years later, the team has started to understand how the building works and what it has to offer. “It’s much more serious now,” chef Rudolf Brand adds in agreement. “The first phase was all about testing the waters, exploring what we could and couldn’t do. We needed to find out first-hand how the concept of circularity was going to impact on a professional kitchen and, in return, how cooking fresh food every day could align with our wider philosophy.”

Key pillars of circularity are collaboration and utilising your environment, both of which are clearly visible within CIRCL. The building is made from materials found in old offices, and natural sources such as groundwater and outside temperatures are utilised fully through smart technologies. “For every problem, we aim to find a natural solution,” Van den Bergh explains. “When starting out in September 2017, this was something everybody real-

Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  Amsterdam Zuid Highlights

Honest about food Starting out as a chef with CIRCL, Brand didn’t know what circularity was, or how it would affect his cooking. “It took me a while to get used to such a different way of working, but in hindsight, I’m incredibly proud of how much we achieved at those early stages,” he tells us. What’s most important to him is that his food is sustainable, sold for an honest price and doesn’t produce any waste. Brand: “I firmly believe in transparency. Customers deserve to know where their food is coming from. We work closely with an organisation called Instock, who fight food waste by distributing food surplus from local supermarkets to restaurants in the area. From blemished fruits and vegetables to one-day-old bread: we use whatever they provide us with for delicious soups and salads. Another example is the billy goat, which, in the Netherlands, is usually exported, but has become one of our favourite ingredients to work with. We want to show that these often forgotten foods are worth paying attention to. They are delicious!”

A local hub Apart from promoting sustainability and circularity, CIRCL is also very much a gathering place for people in the area. Located in the heart of ‘De Zuidas’, one

of the country’s most important business districts, it’s where professionals can sit back, relax and enjoy a truly delicious meal. Of course, everyone else is welcome too. Van den Bergh: “As uniting the community is very important to us, we also organise conferences, workshops and exhibitions, for which we work closely with organisations such as The School of Life and Pakhuis De Zwijger (a Dutch independent platform for creation and innovation). With these events, we hope to

encourage people to start thinking more and more about how the circular economy can be implemented in our daily lives. But they’re fun too, we promise!” Whether you’re looking for a unique meeting room, inspiring events around sustainability or simply a really good meal: CIRCL is where you want to be. Visit their website or get in touch to find out more about their interesting vision. Web:

Rudolf Brand and Merijn van den Bergh.

Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  51

Discover Benelux  |  Amsterdam in 2019  |  Amsterdam Zuid Highlights

From vegetable to Dutch delicacy TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: ESTHER’S COOKERY

What better way to explore the Netherlands than through its gastronomy. At Esther’s Cookery, chef Esther Erwteman teaches the world what it is like to cook Dutch, by making vegetables the centre of attention. “My aim is not to cook vegetarian, but to cook with vegetables,” says Esther. “Although a wide variety of top-notch produce sprouts from our Dutch soil, few people actually use it to its fullest potential. A tomato is tasty in a salad, of course, but is also great when grilled, dried, fried...” At Esther’s Cookery, she organises cooking workshops with veggies galore. On the menu, you won’t find many exotic ingredients, though. Nearly all she needs comes from Amsterdam and its surroundings. Most vegetables and herbs she uses even come from her own allotment. “The common belief is that you need many exotic products to create a tasty vegetarian dish, but the opposite is true. All my recipes’ protagonists come from Dutch soil.”

With the English workshop Dutch Dishes, Esther’s Cookery teaches you how to master delicious Dutch cuisine. After a sensorial trip to the market, she helps you create a fingerlicking-good menu. “You won’t find a traditional hotchpotch here, though. Instead, we will turn the ingredients of this classic dish (potatoes, carrots and onions) into something completely different.” Furthermore, you will learn how to make stroopwafels and discover how strongly Dutch cuisine is influenced by Indonesian

cooking. “Since we mainly use vegetables and make our own cheese and bread, everything we make is Halal and Kosher, as well. Believe me, life just becomes easier when you eliminate meat from the menu.”

Immerse yourself in a private workshop with your friends or colleagues or opt-in on one of the many open sessions. For the calendar, check:






‘Flygskam’ translates from Swedish as ‘flight shame’. I am a mild sufferer and am trying to suffer more. Flygskam results from awareness of the damage to the environment caused by air travel. In Sweden, climate change protestor Greta Thunberg only travels by train and has persuaded her parents to do the same. Profligate air travellers are named and shamed on social media. Flygskam is now quite widespread in Sweden, especially among the young. Not so elsewhere, though Finland has an equivalent in ‘lentohapea’. The comparisons remain inescapable: average CO2 emissions per kilometre by air are 285 grammes; by car, 158 grammes; by train, 14. I conducted my own unscientific survey of six of my more mobile friends, asking them how ashamed they felt and whether this was making a difference. Two didn’t reply and one said he found the enquiry presumptuous. The other 50 per cent all said they were cutting down on flying – one “drastically”. The drastic one, an American based in Germany, makes one annual long-haul

return to see family, and occasional short-hauls for work and conferences. On holidays, he and his partner now take longer to arrive – by train, although “the knowledge that such (i.e. air) travel is harmful doesn’t entirely stop me from flying”.

I realise Greta expects much more, but at least it’s a start – long overdue. And living in Malta presents its own challenges. Recently, we turned up for a ferry home from Sicily to learn it had sailed three hours early. We flew back to get to work on time. Shameful?

Another, a Brit in Germany, sometimes flies but takes the train whenever he can. His next car will be electric or hybrid. He wants governments to discourage flying but thinks shaming is dangerous and a potential slippery slope to “witch hunts and Salem”. He advocates voting for parties that take the environment seriously. The other Brit, based in the UK, pointed out that cross-border train travel is more difficult from an island but is taking trains in Europe much more, even if it’s more expensive. “In the UK,” he added, “uncertainty about whether the train will appear at all is an issue”. So half of my sample are travelling more by train, less by plane. Talking to them has made me determined to do the same and progressively reduce from my own tally for this year of one long-haul return and five short-haul return flights.

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

Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  53

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Calendar


Universum Awards. Photo: NBTC

Universum Awards 2 July, Amsterdam, the Netherlands Every year, the most attractive employers of the Netherlands are awarded a prestigious Universum Award. These awards acknowledge the efforts a company makes to take care of its human resources. This year’s gala focuses on businesses who take good care of working students. At previous editions, major companies like Heineken, KLM and Google have topped the ranking.

iGB Live! 16 – 19 July, Amsterdam, the Netherlands The world of online gambling and iGaming is changing at a dazzling pace. At iGB Live!, the companies and entrepreneurs that matter catch up on each other’s work and get inspired by it. Alongside the exhibition, plenty of speakers give the confer54  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

ence colour with spirited talks and a myriad of networking opportunities allowing the visitors to forge new contacts.

Equality Diversity Inclusion Conference 22 – 24 July, Rotterdam, the Netherlands Equality is the keystone of every healthy work environment. Together with a myriad of guests, Erasmus University explores what equality is and where its boundaries lie. Panels, speakers and conferences are geared towards helping to balance the thin line between majorities and minorities in a professional context and how to deal with the issues often presented.

Startup Battle 23 July, Amsterdam, the Netherlands Startup.Network has a long tradition

of bringing promising entrepreneurs in touch with eager investors at their Startup Battles. With just a few minutes on the clock to pitch your business idea and a few more to answer the investors’ questions, having a strong and clear concept is essential. Although the event is rather informal, its many previous editions have proved to be the perfect place to bump into your next business partner or money man. iGB Live! Photo: RAI Amsterdam

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Profiles


CRP Consulting Read more from page 56 CRP Consulting in Bruges helps businesses to gather and analyse data and to identify new insights to become more efficient.

Laser System Europe Read more from page 59 Laser System Europe (LSE) is a leader in multimedia show design and production.

Instituto Cervantes Bruxelles Read more from page 63 With 87 centres in 44 countries worldwide, the Instituto Cervantes has been promoting Spanish and Hispanic language and culture for more than 25 years.

Stanwick Management Consultants Read more from page 57 Celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2020, Stanwick has been at the frontline of industrial digitisation since day one.

National Sports and Culture Centre d’Coque Read more from page 60 A sprawling complex combining state-of-the-art leisure and business facilities, the National Sports and Culture Centre d’Coque is a polyvalent space with multigenerational appeal.

The British School of Brussels Read more from page 64 For nearly half a century, The British School of Brussels has been offering an excellent education to the youngest of expats, while bringing their families closer together. Read more from page 58 specialises in automating simple cognitive tasks, such as manually checking documents or extracting relevant data.

BEPS International School Read more from page 62 BEPS International School is celebrated for its unique teaching concept, which encourages pupils to become owners of their learning.

Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  55

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Top Flemish Business & Management Consultancies

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock


Smart data towards implemented savings TEXT: MICHIEL STOL

Organisations are under constant pressure to run lean operations, to optimise asset utilisation and to ensure business-alignment without compromising service delivery. Using smart data can provide these organisations with incredible insights and enables them to optimise the whole supply chain. Especially within Purchasing Departments, the use of smart data and new insights are key to value creation. CRP Consulting in Bruges helps businesses to gather and analyse the data and to identify new insights to become more efficient. “Many companies underestimate the value of the (often poor) data they possess and lack the necessary time, knowledge or resources to interpret that data to become more cost effective,” explains Kristof Temmerman. For instance, when organisations merge, the data consolidation is often inadequate, which leads to missed opportunities. Founded in 2014, 56  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

CRP’s methodology and comprehensive approach has helped renowned companies in a wide variety of industries such as chemicals, metal, automotive, pharmaceutical, and logistics – resulting in doing things differently: more automised, leaner and cheaper, with savings on average between 20 to 25 per cent. These significant savings have led to a surge in the number of projects, which is why CRP is currently developing expansion plans.

Guaranteed Roadmap to cost reduction “We use our unique five-step process to create value for our customers and to achieve the best results,” Temmerman continues. “During the assessment, we gather data, check contracts, execute a spend analysis and define both a quantitative and qualitative analysis. The results are summarised in an Analysis Report.” After approval from the customer, CRP implements the Cost Reduction Roadmap by executing and following up the de-

fined strategies: ranging from changing over-specified products to volume bundling, supplier consolidation, global sourcing, re-sourcing activities, supplier development or joint process improvement with suppliers.

Keeping track of savings The execution and implementation of the new strategy are only the beginning for a company. “How will you know if the changes had any effect, if you do not keep track of the savings?” asks Temmerman. This is why CRP tracks the realised savings during 24 months for each project. “We analyse and report savings on a monthly basis and compare them to the starting point. As such, we guarantee our customers that the projected goals are met by providing organisations full insights into the results of the CRP Roadmap.” Web: Mail:

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Top Flemish Business & Management Consultancies Jeroen Van den Hove & Jean-Paul Nauwelaers.

Engagement and clarity are the secret ingredients to successful transformations TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: STANWICK

In a time where new technological developments are changing things at an increasingly rapid pace, the workplace has become an interesting, yet challenging environment. “Companies are so busy staying up to date that they often lose sight of the bigger picture. At Stanwick, we aim to take the pressure off, so that clients can focus on what’s important,” says JeanPaul Nauwelaers, partner at Stanwick Management Consultants.

and external developments. While digitisation has made everything faster and more efficient, it also forces companies to streamline their entire workflow. We’re here to show them that this needn’t be daunting. As long as all employees are engaged in the process, organisational change will lead to excellence.”

Celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2020, Stanwick has been at the frontline of industrial digitisation since day one. Working with a wide range of clients across Europe, the team is versatile, complementary and highly experienced: insights from engineering professionals are combined with knowledge of experts in psychology and change management.

“New generations want to be much more involved in the organisation that they work for,” Jeroen Van den Hove, senior management consultant with Stanwick explains. “They are used to working hard and efficiently, but they also expect a certain degree of ownership. That’s why we tell our clients that in order to be futureproof, they should move from a hierarchical management structure towards an environment in which employees can be autonomous. This new way of organising is based on self-management and very much team-centred.”

Making a change

Operational excellence

“More and more of our clients are organisations that need to get used to changing work environments,” Nauwelaers tells us. “They want to prepare themselves for what’s to come, both in terms of internal

In addition to Organisational Design (OD), Stanwick’s work often follows the OPEX (operational excellence) model. “We see ourselves as implementation consultants,” Nauwelaers states. “We don’t just

advise our clients on how they could be making a change, but rather, we like to put on our boots to go stand in the mud with them. We are in touch with everyone in the company, and provide as much (or as little) guidance as an organisation needs to run a smooth operation.” Van den Hove: “Today, the biggest pitfall for clients is that they make everything a priority. By applying our OPEX assessment, we help our clients find clarity and establish what to focus on, making it infinitely easier to start making a change. Together, we stand for optimisation and implementation.” Stanwick • Business & operational excellence • Organisational development

Address: Axxes Business Park Gebouw B Guldensporenpark 20 9820 Merelbeke (Belgium) Phone: +32 (0)9 210 59 50 Email: Web:

Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  57

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |

Top Flemish FinTech Companies

24/7 intelligent automation TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: CONTRACT.FIT

Imagine this: you need to apply for a loan to buy a new car, but it’s Saturday afternoon. While most companies will allow you to send your documents digitally, that is often where the convenience ends: on the back end, most companies are still relying on staff for manual document checks, which means you’ll have to wait until at least Monday to get your papers ready. It’s an annoying situation – but luckily, Belgian firm is here to change things. Owners Pol Brouckaert and Bertrand Anckaert worked together as management consultants before they decided to start their own company in 2016. “We often worked on projects focused on digitising financial institutions and found ourselves very interested in it, so starting a business centred on just that seemed a logical next step,” Brouckaert explains.

Software as a service specialises in automating simple cognitive tasks, such as manually 58  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

checking documents or extracting relevant data. “These types of tasks should be fully automated,” Brouckaert states firmly. “Many companies today still have entire teams working on this, but there is no reason why classifying emails or processing invoices cannot be done through machine learning.” Automating these tasks has a great number of benefits: it means that a service is available 24/7, it helps clients cutting employee costs, and, perhaps most importantly, it significantly improves the customer experience.

Extraction, classification, validation Most services offered by are a combination of data extraction, classification and validation. Instead of writing requirements, they start by asking their clients for sample data, used to teach a machine how to reproduce. Brouckaert: “For some companies, providing high-quality data is still a bit of a hurdle. It’s an entirely new way of working and coming to understand the

machine learning advantages and pitfalls can take a while. However, once there, most companies wouldn’t want it any other way.” Though the product they offer is incredibly technical, user-friendliness sits at the very top of’s priority list. “We understand that using new technology can be daunting – especially when you’re not particularly savvy with it. But we want everyone to benefit from our services, which is why our user interface is simple and incredibly easy to operate,” Brouckaert states reassuringly. Keen to find out more? works with many international clients and, located in the heart of Brussels, is easy to reach from wherever you are. Visit their website or contact them on for more information.


Discover Benelux  |  Profile  |  Laser System Europe Barcelona NYE 2018. Photo: Nicolas Chavance

Bastille Day at Paris’ Eiffel Tower. Photo: Nicolas Chavance

Lighting up the globe TEXT: COLETTE DAVIDSON  |  PHOTOS: LSE

Whether it’s corporate events, international expositions, national day ceremonies or theme park permanent installations, Laser System Europe (LSE) is a leader in multimedia show design and production. The company’s creative teams combine lasers, light, video, music and special effects to create an unforgettable experience. In one of their latest shows, the grand opening ceremony of the Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Center in Kuwait, LSE went all out. A set of massive screens articulated by robotic arms and interacting with human aerial performers synchronised with waterfall and laser beam special effects to turn the stage into a mesmerising painting. For owner and founder, Patrick Awouters, the goal of LSE’s shows is to leave a lasting impression on its guests. “Every time we create a show, we want the spectator to leave with a strong emotion,” says Awouters, who founded LSE in Braine-l’Alleud in 1993. “It should be a perfect blend of music, technique and special effects to provoke an emotional reaction.”

LSE’s range of activities is broad, and while they provide technical services and equipment for corporate and private clients, what they’re best known for are their world-class shows, which span from one-time events to permanent installations. LSE works project-by-project, with independent groups, private entities, corporations and local governments. While they do regularly attend salons to find new clients, most of their new projects come from word of mouth. Their shows have spanned the globe and have included some of the world’s most prestigious events, such as Bastille Day at Paris’ Eiffel Tower, the New Year’s Eve show in Barcelona, the Shanghai Universal Exposition and the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Kuwait. The company relies on its attention to detail and technical expertise, which it puts towards pyrotechnics, holograms, water effects, mapping, video projection and more. But while technique is of supreme importance, according to Awouters, it’s also about what they do with that technique that sets them apart.

“The big difference compared to other companies is that we do not limit ourselves to offering only technical expertise and material,” says Awouters. “We also provide the content necessary to create a story using different techniques…That’s really our goal, to tell a great story.” Kuwait National Science Museum opening ceremony.

LSE Avenue de l’Industrie 24 1420 Braine l’Alleud Tel: +32 2 331 11 02 Web:

Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  59

Photo: Coque

‘A temple devoted to sports and culture’ TEXT: CHÉRINE KOUBAT  |  PHOTOS: CHRISTOF WEBER

A sprawling complex combining stateof-the-art leisure and business facilities, the National Sports and Culture Centre d’Coque is a polyvalent space with multigenerational appeal. The futuristic building, set in the financial district and within touching distance of Luxembourg City centre, hosts prominent sporting and cultural events, as well as private corporate functions. The modern and elegant building was designed by famed French architect Roger Taillibert, the man behind the Parc des Princes in Paris and the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Seamlessly blending with its urban surrounds, it boasts an organic design with a futuristic edge, and 60  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

owes it name ‘Coque’ – meaning hull – to the shell-shaped spans of prestressed concrete that make up its roofline. The Olympic-sized pool, the centre’s initial undertaking, was inaugurated in 1982, and later developments turned it into the extensive, 60,000-square-metre venue it is today.

Faster, higher, stronger Along with the additional infrastructures encompassed in the aquatic centre (including sauna, Turkish bath, hammam, solarium, outdoor relaxation area and massage suites), the pool welcomes 400,000 visitors each year, and for good reason. Raphaël Stacchiotti, three-time Olympian and national swimming champi-

on, states: “I’ve travelled around the world and I can honestly say that d’Coque is the best. Very few athletes know the luxury of practicing every sport in one place. There is everything you need here, from training to recovery.”

Mixing business with leisure The centre’s amenities attract businesses of all sizes and sectors, from multinationals to local firms, and can accommodate groups of 20 as easily as a 5,000-strong party. The centre boasts compact and well-equipped training and meeting rooms, a larger amphitheatre with 215 seats, an impressive arena, which can hold up to 5,000 people, as well as numerous additional spaces. Highly mod-

Discover Benelux  |  Profile  |  National Sports and Cultural Centre d’Coque

ular and benefiting from ultramodern equipment, they can adapt to conferences, product launches, workshops, fairs, exhibits, galas, corporate parties and seminars. But most importantly, the centre caters to the unique needs of each customer, with project managers offering tailored-made, creative solutions. The ever popular team-building solutions are a perfect example: what better way to increase your willpower and boost team spirit than to partake in a wall-climbing, trampoline or diving workshop? For easing professional tensions, d’Coque focuses on a playful approach and recreational activities, such as Zumba, group cycle, yoga or outdoor running.

Food is also provided, with a number of options to choose from. La Coquille restaurant offers a French gastronomic experience while the more informal La Perla serves Mediterranean fare. Coffee breaks, cocktails, after-work drinks, walking lunches or banquets can be organised on request.

More than a sports and corporate centre It comes as no surprise that d’Coque has been organising a plethora of firstrate sporting and cultural events over the years. Aside from the numerous facilities available, the National Sports and Culture Centre d’Coque also houses a three-star superior hotel comprising 36 elegant, contemporary double/twin rooms, including

two family rooms. The hotel rate includes one free admission to the swimming pool a day and a discounted admission to the wellness centre – an ideal way to unwind after exploring the city or attending an onsite conference or event. The centre is set a stone’s throw away from a park with petanque strips and is in close proximity to a large cinema complex and a shopping mall. Strategically positioned near the city centre, the financial district, European institutions and the international airport, the National Sports and Culture Centre d’Coque is also easily accessible for all neighbouring countries. Web:

Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  61

Discover Benelux  |  Profile  |  BEPS International School

A Financial Aid Programme for BEPS secondary school TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: BEPS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL

Located in the heart of Brussels, BEPS International School is excited to introduce a Financial Aid Programme to support the enrolment of students who otherwise would not be able to attend the school due to financial reasons. “At BEPS, we believe that students learn best in an environment which includes peers from a variety of economic, cultural and geographic backgrounds,” says director Pascale Hertay. The Financial Aid Programme is limited to students entering Year Seven to Year Ten (Grade Six to Grade Nine) who are either already enrolled at BEPS International School or joining from another school. Recipients of financial aid will benefit from grants that cover a certain percentage of the annual tuition fee. The level of financial assistance is reviewed annually and covers the tuition fee alone. The primary responsibility for tuition rests with the family, and each family is expect62  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

ed to fully utilise its own resources before requesting financial aid. BEPS recognises the distinctiveness of each situation and tailors aid packages to meet the needs demonstrated by families that qualify. BEPS will consider applications for financial aid throughout the year, but there is a set annual budget. Once the financial aid budget is exhausted, they will be unable to offer additional grants in that year.

Eligibility for financial aid does not guarantee that BEPS will automatically release funds. For further details, you can contact the school’s admissions office:


About BEPS BEPS International School is celebrated for its unique teaching concept, which encourages pupils to become owners of their learning. Due to popular demand, the school recently expanded with a new secondary branch – welcoming pupils from preschool all the way up to the teenage years since September 2018. Located close to BEPS primary school in the heart of Brussels, the secondary school currently caters for students following the first two years of the

International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) for students aged 11 to 16. Expanding gradually, BEPS will add one MYP level each year, and in the future will also implement the Diploma Programme (DP) of the IB for students aged 16 to 18. “We aid pupils in finding their passion,” enthuses head of school Pascale Hertay. “We help them to find their voice, so that they can choose their own direction for the future.”

Discover Benelux  |  Profile  |  Instituto Cervantes Bruxelles

Beyond the Spanish language at the Instituto Cervantes in Brussels TEXT: LORENZA BACINO  |  PHOTOS: INSTITUTO CERVANTES

With 87 centres in 44 countries worldwide, the Instituto Cervantes has been promoting Spanish and Hispanic language and culture for more than 25 years.

and you can take advantage of the AVE GLOBAL platform on your mobile phone, which is an entertaining, effective and convenient way to brush up your Spanish anytime, anywhere.

The Instituto Cervantes in Brussels offers a raft of language courses at all levels, running through the year and welcoming both children and adults, plus, shorter intensive courses run through the summer months of July and August - morning, afternoon and evening options available. Levels commence at complete beginner, through to intermediate and advanced - the latter of which which brings students up to university and professional proficiency. The Institute also enables official certification of the various levels of proficiency, thanks to the DELE and SIELE examinations.

The Cervantes Institute prides itself on its collaboration with a number of universities in the country that offer special training to teachers of Spanish so they can keep up-to-date with the latest specialisms and make sure you receive the best.

Does your business need Spanish for professional purposes? Then courses can be tailor-made to suit your legal, banking, or other requirements. Specially trained teachers come to your workplace at a time to suit your needs. Tailor-made courses are also available via video-conferencing. Distance and internet learning is also offered, so you never need miss out whilst travelling

The Institute Cervantes in Brussels houses an extensive and technologically advanced library that is also open to the public. Peruse more than 31,000 volumes dedicated to Hispanic language, art, history and culture. Try an audiobook to enhance listening skills or just to enjoy a story. Thousands of films and documentaries are available to borrow and there is a well-stocked area for teen and children’s literature too. This highly interactive space houses more than 2,000 CDs of classical, flamenco and pop music so you are sure to find your favourite Spanish and Hispanic musicians. And if you would like your children to begin music training in Spanish, then the Institute Cervantes in Brussels offers a music

school from the age of three where children learn from an extensive Spanish and Latin American repertoire. Various exchanges, conferences, debates, talks, performances, film and more run throughout the year, where writers, filmmakers and researches can share their passion with the audience. Access to these events is free on a first come, first served basis. Just sign up for updates and newsletters to be sure not to miss out. Instituto Cervantes Brussels Avenue Louise 140 1050 Brussels Belgium Tel.: +32 2 737 0190 Email:

Opening hours: Mon-Thurs: 8:30-18:00 Friday: 8:30-15:00 Library opening hours: Mon-Thurs: 10:00-19:00 Friday: 10:00-15:00


Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  63

Discover Benelux  |  Profile  |  The British School of Brussels

The international school that puts students first TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF BRUSSELS

In the green oasis of Tervuren, just a stone’s throw away from the melting pot of cultures that is the Belgian capital, you will find The British School of Brussels (BSB). For nearly half a century, this international hub has been offering an excellent education to the youngest of expats, while bringing their families closer together. “The British School of Brussels is an institute like no other,” says school principal Melanie Warnes. “Although we don’t select our students by academic standards, our exam results are amongst the highest around. Nonetheless, we don’t solely focus on the theoretical enrichment of our children, but also on their mental and emotional growth.” And what better place to do that than amidst the century-old trees of Tervuren, the lush garden village in the outskirts of Brussels? At the BSB’s modern, 64  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

spacious campus, students have access to facilities galore. A recording studio, a 340-seat theatre, gym, dance studio, fitness suite and a 25-metre swimming pool: it is all at their disposal. Yet, the institute’s most important asset is its human and progressive look at what a school can be. “We have never had uniforms, children address their teachers by their first names and asking questions and being curious is actively encouraged. This results in unique and personal relationships between our teachers and students.” To improve the student’s wellbeing and chances even more, their parents are very involved in the school’s day-to-day life as well. “Yet, this is also beneficial for themselves. Upon arrival, we make them feel as welcome as possible. Sometimes, we even pay a visit to a local hospital with them to let them familiarise themselves

with Brussels’ culture and facilities. The more they feel at home and at ease, the happier their children will be here. And that is one of our most important goals.” BSB in facts 49 years after its founding, The British School of Brussels counts 1,350 students of 70 different nationalities. From the age of one until the age of 18, they walk their personal path within the school’s walls. They can, for example, opt to follow the French/ English bilingual programme, available for ages four-14 years. When 16, they have the choice of three pre-university routes: the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, A Levels or BTEC Vocational Courses.


Discover Benelux  |  Hotel of the Month  |  France

Wine, dine and unwind in the heart of nature TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: JÉRÔME MONDIÈRE PHOTOGRAPHE

Surrounded by the idyllic wine region of northeast France, the luxurious hotel-spa Le Domaine de la Klauss is the perfect destination for your next countryside escape. “Every season is beautiful here,” smiles Aurélia Wieseler-Henry, deputy director of the four-star establishment, which opened its doors in 2016 and recently joined the prestigious Relais & Châteaux collection. The Domaine can be found in the picturesque village of Montenach, close to France’s border with Germany and Luxembourg. Luxembourg City is only a 30-minute drive away, while the historic French city of Metz is less than an hour’s drive from the hotel. The hotel offers 28 sumptuous rooms and suites, and is home to a Gemology spa complete with heated sensory swimming pool, Finnish shower, ice fountain and 66  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

Balinese beds. Among the five treatment rooms, there are two doubles, for those wanting to enjoy their relaxing treatments alongside a partner. In addition to its beautiful surroundings and superb spa, Domaine de la Klauss is hugely popular as a gourmet weekend destination thanks to its excellent dining options. Guests have two restaurants to choose from; Le “K” and L’Auberge de la Klauss. The latter had already been delighting diners for many years before the opening of the Domaine. “The Auberge has been a popular foodie hotspot for over 50 years,” explains Mrs Wieseler-Henry. “They specialise in traditional cuisine, whereas Le “K” is more of a gastronomic experience, and has already been awarded a Michelin Plate.” New at the hotel for summer 2019 is a stunning outdoor swimming pool and a

much larger outdoor terrace area. In the sunny days ahead, this will undoubtedly be a welcome addition, although there is plenty to entice visitors to Le Domaine de la Klauss whatever the forecast. From exploring the surrounding nature on one of the hotel’s electric bikes or sunbathing by the pool in warm weather, to relaxing with a treatment in the spa or enjoying a cosy drink by the fireplace in the winter, Le Domaine is perfect for all seasons. As well as being a popular choice with couples, the hotel is a sought-after destination for professional and private events such as seminars, meetings, product launches and press conferences. And because the Domaine is a boutique hotel, you’ll always have that feeling of exclusivity. Find out more at

Discover Benelux  |  Restaurant of the Month  |  Belgium

Antonio Di Siervi.

Mediterranean, fresh dining TEXT: COLETTE DAVIDSON  |  PHOTOS: L’ASCOLI

L’Ascoli is a labour of love for owner Antonio Di Siervi. The Italian eatery is the culmination of a lifetime in the restaurant business for the restaurateur, whose latest venture serves up Italian classics as well as innovative dishes – always incorporating the freshest ingredients. Dining at L’Ascoli is to be transported – to Tuscan suns or the Amalfi coast. Nestled in a former Flemish farmhouse in the Belgian town of Zaventem, L’Ascoli offers a diverse menu in an idyllic setting. A classic interior on the first floor welcomes large groups for business meetings, while the ground floor eatery and Tuscanyinspired garden beckons guests into the open air. A small vegetable garden – some of whose contents go into the dishes at L’Ascoli – as well as 100-year-old olive trees imported from Italy, line the space. The Italian restaurant is the brainchild of

Antonio Di Siervi, who has been in the business – either working in or running restaurants of his own – since he was 15 years old. Using his 50 years in dining as inspiration, Di Siervi has created a varied menu featuring food from the Mediterranean coast with a trans-Alpine flair. His goal is to offer homemade dishes using seasonal produce, fresh pasta, and quality meat and fish. Olive oil is preferred over butter. And every morning, Di Siervi visits the local market to choose the best products. “We always work with the freshest ingredients, that’s what we’re known for and why the restaurant is so successful,” says Di Siervi. “I want people to be able to smell what they’re eating.” In addition, Di Siervi travels around Italy several times per year looking for new

ingredients to inspire his dishes. While L’Ascoli’s menu only truly changes twice each year, additional dishes and supplements are offered every week as a way to keep regular clients interested. Set just eight minutes from the airport, L’Ascoli is perfectly situated for business gatherings – but those coming hungry must make reservations in advance. The Italian eatery is usually booked up every week. “Don’t hesitate to call and reserve your table,” says Di Siervi, “we’ll welcome you with a smile.” L’Ascoli Hector Henneaulaan 136 1930 Zaventem Web: Tel: +32 2 725 45 45

Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  67


Most great ideas begin in pubs, but this one began even before the brewery stage. Joseph Gottal, when he ran an anticancer molecular research company, spent six years investigating the health-giving virtues of curcumin, the active component of turmeric that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and anti-infection properties. He eventually optimised a complex blend of curcumin and other spices and essences that make it easier for the body to absorb the curcumin, and for the palate to relish the melange that he calls curcumix. A 68  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

conversation with his friend, entrepreneur Alexis de Limburg Stirum, led to them joining forces, and soon a meeting with master brewer Bruno Deghorain brought him into the team, and pointed the way to their exciting new product – Curcubeer.

The organic route

They travelled to the Far East to source organic turmeric, a journey that also convinced them to follow the Fair Trade path: “We saw how some big organisations squeeze the small farmers, and we feel that it’s right to help producers make a decent living out of their hard work,” adds Alexis.

“We wanted to make curcumix palatable, and Bruno suggested using it with other flavouring elements in an organic beer – we’ve been set on the organic route since the outset,” says de Limburg Stirum, “so we use organic hops and barley grown in Belgium and Northern France in the brew.”

As a test of their product they made 1,500 bottles of Curcubeer at Bruno’s brewery in Binche, in Wallonia, and without any indication of the special ingredients, got friends and business contacts to try it – with extremely positive results: “People liked it as a tasty refreshing beer

Discover Benelux  |  Brewery of the Month  |  CURCU Beer

before they knew anything about what makes it so different,” he says. “Bruno is an acclaimed master brewer, with great knowledge of his craft, and he produces very fine beers.”

New products Since Curcubeer launched in 2017, the company has added a second beer, Curcumax, to the range. “Curcubeer is more of an aperitif beer, something to slake the thirst when you’re with friends; Curcumax is fuller bodied, more complex, more contemplative perhaps,” says Alexis. The former has 12 ingredients in its curcumix, the latter 16, each set chosen to make the curcumin actively accessible and to provide a well-balanced and full-flavoured beer. For obvious commercial reasons, the team is cagey about revealing all of the spices and botanicals involved, but one is black pepper, which

as well as being anti-inflammatory itself, combines with turmeric to make it easier for the body to process the curcumin. The others include cloves, vanilla and lemon, the latter imparting definite tangy citrus notes to the flavour profiles that make both beers good accompaniments to seafood and spicy Asian dishes and, in the case of Curcumax, pairs well with red meats and cheeses too.

New markets With sales outlets established in Belgium, France and Luxembourg, the team is now expanding into other markets: “We went to a major food and drink congress in Japan a couple of months ago,” says Alexis, “and we’re now working on enquiries from across Asia that we received there.” This summer, they are bringing the beers to trade events in the UK, and both beers have been accepted for considera-

tion in The World Beer Awards 2019, with the results due to appear in August. They also have an intriguing pathway into the Dutch market, where an indoor climbing company with centres across the country is keen to be involved. “Climbers are obviously keen on health and fitness, so it looks like a good match,” adds de Limburg Stirum. The company has noted three core groups as being the keenest to try, and having tried to then keep buying their beers: one is young people tired of ‘international’ brands that are all advertising and little flavour – what Alexis describes as ‘footballer beers’; another, people from 25 to 40, for whom (like those climbers) their overall health – and the diet that is a part of that – are major focuses in their lifestyle; and an older group, seniors aware in particular of the reported benefits of turmeric as regards joint and muscular problems. Another beer and a non-alcoholic drink are in the development stage, and the company is also working on snacks to complement their drinks: “We want to offer something that goes well with our beers, and fits in better with our healthful approach than crisps or over-salted peanuts and pretzels,” says Alexis. A company whose products are ethically and ecologically produced to bring health benefits and pleasure to the consumer: that’s something worth considering over a beer.

Alexis (left) and Joseph (right).


Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  69

Discover Benelux  |  Profile  |  Pâtisserie Hoffmann


The sweet smell – and taste – of success TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON  |  PHOTOS: PÂTISSERIE HOFFMANN

Luxembourgers like the finer things in life. Master pastry chef and entrepreneur Jean-Marie Hoffmann has built a very special business that aims to provide not just the fine, but the finest. In his youth, Jean-Marie Hoffmann dreamed for a time of becoming a surgeon, but decided that such a life was not for him. Given the meticulous attention to detail demonstrated in his creations, his growing business empire, and his tireless drive to improve both, it is very possible he would have made a mighty medic. The path the now 51-year-old Hoffmann chose was to become a great pastry chef, learning his craft with some prestigious names before deciding that it was time to launch his own operation. “I looked seriously at Venice Beach in California 70  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

as an option, but it wasn’t right for me or what I do.” He wondered about Dubai too, but finally saw that home was best. “Luxembourg has great gastronomic traditions, it’s an ever-more prosperous place where people are willing to pay for the best, and where they appreciate what top quality is,” says Hoffmann, “Like the French, eating well is a part of our culture, our heritage.” Thus, in 1991, he opened his first shop in Bonnevoie, making a name and setting it on the firm financial footing that enabled him to open a second, in Alzingen, in 2001. Making a name for himself included, in 1996, coming second in the pastry-chef world championships in Paris, the perfectionism that yielded that result reflected in the products in his shops – ices, sorbets, chocolates, del-

icate pastries, gâteaux… “We set the highest standards and use the best materials, including flour and fresh cream and milk from Luxembourg; but we also search the world for the topmost quality ingredients, like cinnamon from Sri Lanka, and Madagascan vanilla.”

18 Avenue de la Porte-Neuve L-2227 Luxembourg.

Discover Benelux  |  Profile  |  Pâtisserie Hoffmann

CEO Jean-Marie Hoffmann.

A grand expansion For some people, that relatively simple business would have been enough, especially as it evolved into what is very much a family concern: “My wife has been very important to the company since the start, and my daughter Kelly joined after she became a master pastry-chef. And now my son Dustin is working on the marketing side,” he says. But Hoffmann had other ideas. As 2017 ended, it was announced that his company was acquiring the 16 shops, restaurant and production premises of long-established Luxembourg rival Schumacher, investing 16 million euros into upgrading their facilities. “We changed overnight from around 30 employees to 230,” he states, “And to be able to achieve what we want to do with the business, we expect to increase that to 280 or 300 before too long.” The bakery business is known for its anti-social hours, but to integrate the two parts and oversee the new investment projects Hoffmann has gone further, actually installing a camp bed in a windowless broom cupboard next to his office in his new production facility in Wormeldange, and spending most nights there.

Fresh ideas, fresh investment, fresh products Even early on in the process, the signs were positive, sales good, and a good reaction from the workforce was evident. Because of the nature of what they produce, this is something that takes a very special approach – and Hoffmann is appreciative of production director

Michael Weyland. “The scale of the operation, with 18 shops, and many catering companies and other outlets in addition, could be seen as industrial,” Hoffmann says, “But this has to be artisanal, what we do is a craft with so much done by hand, reliant on human skill rather than machinery.” And Hoffmann has no intention of losing what has always been – and remains – the trump card of his business: “If I have a new idea, if we come up with a new product say, we can make it happen – and at the highest level of quality – within the day.” It is a philosophy that matches the nature of the business. In the restaurant, the mouth-watering menu du jour is now truly du jour, changing daily and using the best seasonal produce. The wraps, sandwiches, quiches and salads that form the savoury basis of the traiteur business are truly fresh. The chocolates beneath their glass counters in the shops are miniature works of art, the great classics occasionally joined by new creations; and it is the same too with the pastries, handmade, as enticing on the shelves as they will be later in the day on the tables of Luxembourg’s discerning diners. The whole team is working tirelessly, and it is working successfully too. And they share a vision: “Our goal is to be one of the big names in our sector, not just in Luxembourg but beyond too,” Hoffmann concludes. Web:

Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  71

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  The Cut Out Girl


‘I didn’t want this story to be lost’ Bart van Es was born in the Netherlands and grew up in Norway, Indonesia, and Dubai before moving to the UK as a teenager and going on to become a professor of English at St Catherine’s College Oxford. His critically acclaimed 2018 book, The Cut Out Girl, tells the true story of Lien de Jong, a Jewish girl who was cared for by van Es’s own grandparents during the occupation of the Netherlands in 1942. We were lucky enough to speak to the author to find out more about his family’s remarkable history. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: KEITH BARNES

You had already published many academic works, but was there anything in particular which prompted you to write The Cut Out Girl? B. Van Es: There definitely wasn’t a single moment – it sort of caught up on me. There was a funny moment, as in funny peculiar, where I was with my mother in the kitchen and I suddenly said, ‘wasn’t there a girl called Lien who hid with my grandparents? Is she still alive?’. I think if I try and reconstruct what made me say that, it would have been a combination of things. There was the death of my eldest uncle which sparked the sense that generation was going to leave us in the next

five or ten years, and if I didn’t talk to them now, their stories would be gone forever.

made me think ‘this story is something I don’t want to get lost’.

There was also a broader awareness that the lessons of the Second World War might be being lost. Plus, I was doing research on the subject of children in Shakespeare’s England. I ended up writing a couple of articles on the subject. There were children who were actually taken from their families and claimed for the theatre. That made me think about children and I thought ‘ok, there was this other story of a child and her vulnerability’. It was the coming together of those various things in November 2014 that

The book is full of revelations. Did you ever have any doubts about divulging so much of your family’s history? B. Van Es: No. I always had a very strong sense that this means something so powerful to me that I had to write it up, but that didn’t stop me having sleepless nights over it quite a few times. I wanted the people featured in the book to be portrayed in a rounded and nuanced way. Actually, in terms of the response the book has had, that really has Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  73

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  The Cut Out Girl

been the case. Ultimately the book has brought people together, and nobody’s responded saying ‘oh, your grandparents did terrible things’. Quite the opposite – they’ve ended up having huge admiration for them.

Aside from Lien’s astonishing life story, the book is far from a traditional memoir thanks to its unique structure. Where did the idea for the format come from? B. Van Es: I hadn’t particularly come to the book with a plan of how I would structure it or what I would do. But once we started on the project and I decided to go and visit the houses where Lien had been in hiding, it became increasingly clear to me that my journey would have to be part of the book. I also think one of the things that makes the book different is that it’s a story about Lien’s entire life – not just during the war. Often there’s a tendency to think war stories stop with the liberation, and the question of ‘is this person going to get through the war?’. If they’re Jewish, the question is ‘are they going to survive?’. But this is a story about surviving survival. And by starting the book with Lien alive and in her 80s, living in Amsterdam, it gives away that normal driver to the narrative. The reader knows this person escaped the Nazis, but there is still the question of how she ended up separated from the van Es household.

Did writing The Cut Out Girl change you? If so, how? B. Van Es: It really did. Partly because I was having to empathise with an incredibly traumatic experience in someone’s life, and then there were other pressures, such as concern from my parents and, to a degree, my wife, because there were things about our family in it. The story was just so powerful – I had a real conviction that it was something that needed to be written, but after a day upstairs of writing, I didn’t come downstairs quite the same person as I was when I got up in the morning. I think before, I wasn’t very good at understanding people who seemed to be74  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

have irrationally. I was always quite a moral and reasonable person, but I’d find it very difficult to empathise with people who were not responding in a way that to me seemed rational. I think seeing somebody else from the inside, in the way that I saw Lien, was an incredible privilege. She just trusted me and I got this entire history. I got to understand what it felt like to be part of a family you didn’t feel totally secure in, to be part of com-

munities where you never felt confident. I think that changed me in a good way. It made me a bit less absolute in how I view people, and I’d like to think, more empathetic. The Cut Out Girl: A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found was overall winner of the Costa Book of the Year 2018 and winner of the Costa Biography Award 2018.

Lien de Jong and Bart van Es.

Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  75

Tomorrowland. Photo: Visit Flanders, Tomorrowland

Out & About In summer, the Benelux turns into one big festival ground. Whether it is music, food, books, theatre or something totally different you crave: the region hosts events galore. Furthermore, it is also game season for royalty watchers. Pay the Belgian royal palace a visit and spot the monarch himself as part of the national holiday celebrations. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS Tomorrowland. Photo: Visit Flanders, Tomorrowland

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Belgian National Holiday. Photo:, Eric Danhier

Over het IJ Festival

European Championship Sand Sculpting

5 – 14 July, Amsterdam, the Netherlands The era in which theatre only happened in empty and sterile black boxes lies behind us. On the riverside of the IJ, the Over het IJ Festival gathers the best location theatre pieces from the Netherlands and beyond. Enjoy performances at improvised stages on the docks, at the beach or even inside an industrial container.

9 July – 31 October, Zandvoort, the Netherlands Where some of us, already, struggle while constructing a simple sandcastle, others are able to curve the wildest shapes out of a pile of sand. At the European Championship Sand Sculpting, the continents’ finest artists compete in moulding the most impressive statue of sand. This year, Leonardo Da Vinci’s work is their source of inspiration, raising the bar sky-high. The contest

European Championship Sand Sculpting. Photo: Zandvoort

itself only lasts for a week, yet, the creations stay afoot until the end of October.

Dour 10 – 14 July, Dour, Belgium Despite its alternative line-up with metal, reggae, ska and post-rock, Dour is Belgium’s fourth-largest festival. Spread over nine stages, you can see your most obscure heroes in

Dour. Photo: Olivier Bourgi

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Gentse Feesten. Photo: Stad Gent

action and discover tomorrow’s underground icons. Surrender yourself to the beats of Europe’s warmest mega festival.

Nuit des Merveilles

Over Het IJ Festival. Photo: Moon Saris

13 July, Bettembourg, Luxembourg For one night a year, the usually quiet streets of Bettembourg turn into an enchanting openair theatre. Europe’s finest clowns, acrobats and entertainers of all sorts gather to spruce up the night. Don’t come prepared! Just arrive and let the madness guide you through the rabbit hole.

Pride. Photo: Jeroen Ploeger

Tomorrowland 19-21 & 26-28 July, Boom, Belgium Who hasn’t heard of Tomorrowland?! Just 14 years ago, the festival organised its humble first edition. Today, they sell the most desired festival tickets in the world. Spread over two weekends, the globe’s best DJs give it their all on no less than 17 jaw-dropping stages.

Gentse Feesten 19 – 28 July, Ghent, Belgium Alongside München’s Oktoberfest and Valencia’s Las Fallas, de Gentse Feesten is 78  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Belgian National Holiday. Photo:, Eric Danhier Over Het IJ Festival. Photo: Moon Saris

Deventer Book Market. Photo: NBTC

one of the biggest city festivals in Europe. For ten days, international gastronomy, a myriad of musical genres and no less than 900 theatrical performances find their spot in Ghent’s city centre. Discover how well the Flemish can party during this celebratory marathon.

work show. The national parliament will also open its doors to the public and the entire royal family leaves the palace for the day to celebrate along with the rest of the nation.

Pride Amsterdam Visit the Royal Palace

Belgian National Holiday 21 July, Brussels, Belgium On 21 July, the Belgians celebrate the 188th anniversary of their nation. In Brussels, that means military parades, celebrations on all the squares and streets and a mesmerising fire-

you won’t spot, given that the palace is only a working space for the Royals. They reside in another palace right outside of the city.

22 July – 3 September, Brussels, Belgium Although its heavy wooden doors usually remain closed to the public, the king, traditionally, invites the nation to his palace for one month each summer. The entrance is free and allows you into the lush salons and lavish rooms of the estate. The monarch’s bedroom,

27 July – 4 August, Amsterdam, the Netherlands What is Amsterdam Pride if not a celebration of equality and tolerance? Waving their rainbow banners, the Dutch LGBT+ community takes over the city while partying and parading. On 3 August, the canal parade floats through the city’s liquid arteries. The long procession of colourful boats always manages to bring thousands of spectators to the quayside.

Deventer book market

Gentse Feesten. Photo: Stad Gent

Royal Palace. Photo:, Jean-Paul Remy

4 August, Deventer, the Netherlands Whoever says that print is dead, has never been in Deventer. At the waters of this historic city, they host the biggest book market in Europe. 850 stalls sell their paper treasures, good for a literary shopping spree of over six kilometres. The fair opens at half past nine, yet, at seven in the morning, the first book junkies already roam through the market, hoping to lay their hands on a hidden pearl before the day’s book craze kicks in. Issue 67  |  July 2019  |  79

A new way to visit Brussels TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER

From its famous Art Nouveau architecture to the breathtaking Grand Place, not to mention famous attractions such as Mannekin Pis and an array of world-class museums, the Belgian capital is certainly not short of crowd-pleasers. But if you want to enjoy more than the city’s well-known gems, check out a new digital platform designed to help you discover Brussels like a local. Created to be used on-the-go, ‘Now. Brussels’ is a pioneering real-time city guide which offers geo-localised results to users seeking nearby hotspots. Whether you are trying to find the perfect brunch spot or the latest pop-up 80  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

bar, Now.Brussels will show you where to head with smart recommendations. “For example, when it’s sunny, all the restaurants with terraces will go to the top of your search results,” explains Fiona Amoroso, digital marketing advisor at “And you won’t find any out-of-date tips, or recommendations for places which are currently closed.”

less tourists. There’s a really relaxed vibe as people hit the terraces to soak up the sun,” she enthuses. Top places to try for an al fresco drink include the rooftop of the Beursschouwburg art centre, and Le Grand Central, which offers a breathtaking view of Leopold Park from its first floor terrace.

An authentic experience

If you are seeking greenery, Brussels is home to a selection of secret gardens just waiting to be explored. Hidden gems include the gardens of La Cambre Abbey, which is just a stone’s throw from the vibrant Flagey neighbourhood and is the ideal spot for an improvised summer picnic. Also worth a visit is

Now.Brussels provides a much more authentic vision of Brussels life, and lets you discover the city’s hidden pearls. According to Fiona Amoroso, summer is a great time to get to know the Belgian capital. “All the locals are chilled out, the weather’s good and there are

Hidden gems

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Brussels

the intimate Jean-Felix Hap garden and Tenbosch Park, a haven of peace in the heart of the city.

Festivals galore When it comes to festivals, Brussels is the place to be, whatever your taste. Musical highlights include Hide & Seek Festival (19 to 25 August), which hosts world music in unusual, emblematic and unexpected locations across the capital. Meanwhile, design aficionados will not want to miss Uptown Design (12 to 30 September), which sees Belgian designers showcase their work in shops,

hotels, townhouses and galleries across the city.

Culture vulture Perhaps you want to escape the sunshine? Then check out some of the incredible exhibitions currently being held in the city. Showing at the Vanderborghtbuilding until 25 August is Audrey Hepburn – Intimate Audrey, an exhibition on the life of the film star created by her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer. “This is one of my top recommendations,” smiles Emmanuelle Osselaer, product development expert at, pointing out

that it was 90 years ago this year that Hepburn was born in the Belgian capital. Other must-sees include Restless Youth at the House of European History, Flamboyant — Art de vivre in the Thirties at the beautiful Villa Empain, and Spaces. Interior design evolution at ADAM – Brussels Design Museum.

Photo: Shutterstock

DISCOVER THESE UNMISSABLE EVENTS Brosella Folk & Jazz 13 - 14 July Théâtre de Verdure This free two-day festival brings jazz and folk music to the open-air Théâtre de Verdure, near the Atomium. Brussels Summer Festival 14 - 18 August Several locations An eclectic series of live concerts held over several days at various indoor and outdoor locations.

Photo: Shutterstock

BXLBeerFest 24 - 25 August Tour & Taxis Enjoy high-quality, artisanal beers from an array of independent breweries. eat! BRUSSELS, drink! BORDEAUX 5 - 8 September Brussels Park Sample a host of gourmet delights at this outdoor festival, which also organises masterclasses with some of the city’s greatest chefs. Comics Festival 13 - 15 September Brussels Park Exhibitions, book signings, workshops and a fair – these are just some of the highlights of Brussels’ annual Comics Festival.


For more inspiration visit:

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Diekirch in northeast Luxembourg is making waves in the tourist world with water-sports facilities on the river Sûre, its charming old town, intriguing museums, and the locally brewed beer to be found in the many pubs there.

“There’s plenty to see and do here all year round,” says Sandie Lahure, the local authority’s communications manager, “but summer is the best time for all the open-air activities here – of which we have many.”

A place in history

mined the outcome of World War II. “Our acclaimed National Museum of Military History, which explains that desperate struggle in exhibits and models, is something the town is very proud of,” says Sandie, “and we have four other museums as well.”

Surrounded by four mountains, with the River Sûre running through it, and boasting a historic centre filled with tiny snickelways, ancient streets and a huge town square, Diekirch enjoys a setting at once dramatic and peaceful enough in itself to attract visitors.

In 2019, Diekirch is a place to have fun, enjoy the natural surroundings and the characterful town, try your hand at kayaking, and refresh yourself with a local lager. Some 75 years ago, however, the town was a critical pivot point in the Battle of the Bulge, a clash that deter-

One of them, the Diekirch History Museum purpose-built in the previous decade, tells the town’s own story, and offers some perhaps unexpected finds for the visitor, not least the Roman mosaics that demonstrate how ancient this

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settlement is. Objects rather nearer our own time can be found in the National Historic Vehicle Museum, with its immaculately kept collections of veteran, vintage and simply stylish cars and motorbikes (and, as a bonus, a space dedicated to the town’s brewery!).

Summer party Perhaps unsurprisingly for the town that hosted Luxembourg’s first Cavalcade, Diekirch likes to let its hair down in style: “Every year, the old town of Diekirch around the church is transformed into a big celebration area, where people party for five days,” Sandie explains. “It’s called ‘Al Dikkrich’ with two ks, which is an old spelling. Al Dikrich means the old town of Diekirch, but people here call their town Dikrich, it’s the local pronunciation. This year, it takes place from 12 to 16 July, with music, beer, entertainment and plenty of traditions linked to the festival – including one that makes use of an old vehicle from the museum to carry a newly-married couple around the town.”

Relax your own way

Alongside the traditional and the historic, there are some great new facilities too, especially if you fancy having a go at water sports. For the real beginner there is a three-kilometre-loop in the river where you can try kayaking and paddleboarding, arriving back where you start-

“In this area we have a great track either side of the river for cyclists and joggers,” says Sandie, “but if you’d prefer something far more relaxing, there’s a lovely restaurant – the Al Schwemm – from whose terrace you can watch other people exerting themselves while you enjoy some good food, and maybe a glass or two.”

Oldtimer Museum.

ed; and for the more adventurous – and skilled – Diekirch has Luxembourg’s only wild water canoeing training stretch, 160 metres of adrenaline-filled athleticism.

A glass or two is something that does seem to be dear to the hearts of the people of Diekirch, which, with a population of 7,200, manages to keep some 30 pubs and bars in business. And those glasses are more often than not filled with beer crafted in the town’s own brewery. “We’ve had a brewery here since 1871,” says Lahure, “so it’s part of our town’s soul now.” And since the brewery underwent a major revamp and reopened this year, that soul is (as is fitting in a place that celebrates the best of nature) more at one with the environment, having reduced its energy requirements and water usage – though to look at the broad river there doesn’t seem to be any great shortage of that element. Another thing that makes Diekirch stand out from the crowd is its mascot – a donkey. A donkey’s place in a local legend is celebrated in a water-fountain sculpture where you’ll see one of the animals apparently spraying coins from its rear end. The town’s love of the beast led to its fine old church fitting a donkey weather-vane to its steeple, to the apparent annoyance of state planning authorities, and less controversially, there’s a donkey park near the river. Maybe it’s something to ask the locals about when you’re there. Ideally over a glass of beer?

Walking and cycling path at river Sûre.

Web: Instagram: villedediekirch

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Châlons-en-Champagne / Apeldoorn

Discover the cultural delights of ‘Sparkling Venice’ TEXT: AMANDINE HACH  |  PHOTOS: CHRISTOPHE MANQUILLET

Located an hour and a half from Paris, the beautiful city of Châlons-en-Champagne, with its many canals, is known as ‘La Venise Pétillante’ (Sparkling Venice) thanks to its location in the famous sparkling wine region. A boat trip on the canals running through the city’s historic heart should be your first port of call. The day tour ‘L’eau’dyssée’ takes 40 minutes and will show you highlights such as Collegiate Church Notre-Dame-en-Vaux, the Halles Market, the ‘Porte Sainte-Croix’ and the many bridges – the oldest dating from 1560. Your skipper will tell you the story of the town, as well as its best kept secrets! When night falls, boat rides become even more magical as the city’s monuments are lit up. The ‘Métamorph’eau’ses’ canal tour makes for an unforgettable night out. Châlons-en-Champagne is also home to many gardens, boasting 11 hectares of greenery. Visitors can enjoy numerous summer events including concerts, spectacles, and –

of course – Châlons Plage, which transforms the city into a beach destination. And every year in June, Châlons-enChampagne turns itself into a kind of giant circus. The city becomes the setting for all kinds of burlesque and unexpected shows in a host of various locations. In July, Châlons-en-Champagne celebrates global music and invites musicians from all over the world, from Venezuela to Algeria, to form the line-up of 52 free outdoor concerts. Finally, at the end of August it is the hugely popular Châlons fair, where famous French singers perform live in the city. An event, as

with so many others there this summer, not to be missed!


Apeldoorn: Lively city based amid a green treasury TEXT: KARIN VENEMA  |  PHOTO: HET NATIONALE PARK DE HOGE VELUWE

In the Netherlands, the area of Apeldoorn is a well-known holiday destination for city breaks combined with beautiful nature. Not only does the city offer plenty of shopping, culture, culinary delights and children’s amusement, it also boasts many famous artworks at the Kröller-Müller museum, which is located in De Hoge Veluwe national park. Apeldoorn is only an hour away from Amsterdam and offers a variety of amenities. For children, there is the amusement park Julianatoren and Apenheul, a zoo full of freeroaming primates. Culture lovers can indulge themselves with the Gigant pop podium, the ACEC exhibition centre, the contemporary CODA museum and Theatre Orpheus. The beautiful gardens of Palace Het Loo are reconstructed to the original 17th-century design and worth a visit, while the city centre 84  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

has plenty of restaurants and cafés to suit any preference. De Hoge Veluwe national park is a nature reserve of over 5,000 hectares that can be explored by foot, bicycle or even by horse. The park is known as the greenest treasury in the Netherlands: it is a natural paradise inhabited by a variety of wildlife. In the middle of the park you can find the visitor centre, and there are 1,800 white bicycles available that can be used for free: for instance, to visit the Jachthuis Sint Hubertus. The Kröller-Müller museum not only boasts the world’s second-largest Van Gogh collection and a lovely sculpture garden, it also displays masterpieces by modern masters such as Monet, Picasso and Mondriaan. A recent visitor describes how she loves De Hoge Veluwe national park: “I would really recommend this park for both young and old.

It’s quiet, but there’s still plenty to do and see. You can certainly spend a whole fun day there!”

Jachthuis Sint Hubertus, the former country residence of the Kröller-Müller couple.


Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Columns



Rembrandt is the undoubted king of Dutch painting, and The Night Watch is the jewel in his crown. A 3.5 metre x 4.5 metre epic, depicting in near life-size scale the shooting party of Frans Banninck Cocq in accentuated contrast, it is widely considered Rembrandt’s finest achievement. Now, in what is going to be the largest project of its kind, The Night Watch is being restored… in public. Firstly, it is worth saying that The Night Watch has been through some tough times during its lifetime; having acid thrown over it, and being slashed by a knife on two different occasions. Some parts of the masterpiece are looking tired, with the dog in the bottom right of the composition reduced to little more than a ghostly spectre. So a little TLC is perhaps

overdue. However, the scale of the restoration is huge, and to undertake it with the world watching on is a brave and daring statement. In not wanting to remove the painting from view for what will be a multi-year process, the Rijksmuseum have erected a giant glass cage around The Night Watch, so that the public can watch every step of the process. Conservators will begin by researching the painting, scanning and mapping the surfaces in minute detail, before concocting a plan of how to proceed. It promises to be a fascinating behind the scenes look – like watching a Michelin-starred chef work their magic in the kitchen. Let’s just hope nobody spills their coffee on it! The Night Watch restoration is on show at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam and is part of The Year of Rembrandt, 2019, marking the 350th anniversary of the artist’s death.

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.


Vander Ghinste Roodbruin TEXT & PHOTO: STUART FORSTER

Vander Ghinste Roodbruin is, as its name suggests, a reddy-brown beer and a product of the brewery established by Omer Vander Ghinste in Bellegem back in 1892. The beer, now sold in 25 centilitre bottles as Roodbruin, was originally known as Ouden Tripel when it was first distributed. Four years ago, it was named the world’s best dark beer at the World Beer Awards. Deep ruby in colour, it has a fawn head. The aroma of this beer is fruity, with hints of cherry and fruits of the forest. Its flavour is bitter-sweet, also with hints of cherries, malt and mild notes of rounded oak. The initial bitterness of Vander Ghinste Roodbruin rolls away to sweetness. Flanders Sour Ale appears on the label yet that is only one facet of this complex and interesting beer; one that people who enjoy 86  |  Issue 67  |  July 2019

drinking sours are likely to enjoy. To produce Roodbruin, top-fermented beer is blended with lambic beer and matured in oak barrels for 18 months. The Brouwerij Omer Vander Ghinste is a member of the Belgian Family Brewers association. It isn’t just the name of its founder; five generations of the family have now been named Omer Vander Ghinste. Tours of the brewery premises, including tastings, are offered at 10am and 2pm from Monday to Saturday. It is located roughly six kilometres from the France-Belgium border and easy to spot thanks to the tower erected to facilitate the brewing of pilsner in 1929. Roodbruin pairs well with cheeses such as Roquefort, Achelse Blauwe and Stilton. Brewer: Brouwerij Omer Vander Ghinste Alcohol content: 5.5 per cent

Stuart Forster was named Journalist of the Year at the 2015, 2016 and 2019 Holland Press Awards. Five generations of his family have been actively involved in the brewing industry.