Born in Liège in the east of Belgium, Christophe Hardiquest’s earliest memory of being interested in food is his grandmother’s chicken broth with “alphabet” pasta. He says he was brought up on simple food, but the journey to his own acclaimed Brussels restaurant took little more than a decade. Having studied at the Namur School of Catering for five years until 1994, he steadily climbed the kitchen ladder, training at some of Brussels’ most iconic restaurants, such as Sea Grill and Villa Lorraine (Belgium‘s first three-star restaurant and the first three-star restaurant outside France) but also in Michelin-starred l’Orangeraie and La Crémaillère in New York. He returned to Brussels as chef de partie and then sous-chef under Pascal Silman at the Conrad Hotel from 1999 to 2001 but the chef with the greatest influence on him is Alain Passard from Arpège who he admires for the simplicity of his food.
In 2001, Christophe Hardiquest opened Bon Bon with his wife Stéphanie, the restaurant’s general manager and responsible for its ambience. Having established itself as a premiere food venue in Brussels, gaining its first Michelin star in 2004, in 2010 the decision was taken to relocate across town and also to live in a space connected to the restaurant. Working with the architect Michele Verhelst, the restaurant features large pieces of root on the wall of the entrance representing Hardiquest’s philosophy on ‘the roots of taste’ that tap into deep gustatory memories, while hand-polished copper mirror menus, the fruit of this tree, signify ‘the journey of the taste buds’ which participate in the sensory experience and the subtle journey orchestrated by the chef. The kitchen opens directly onto the dining room with Hardiquest directing his team quietly but efficiently in full view of the diners. Although he is keen on the latest gadgets and methods, he says his early years “marked my memory, and that‘s why my flavors come from the past. I think there is no future in food without the past.” He thoroughly enjoys deconstructing old recipes and bringing them to life again in a contemporary way to create a unique Belgian identity. There is no set menu at Bon Bon but a choice of three, five or seven courses which may change from day to day and is dictated by the produce available.
A chef cannot do anything alone, you need the team. When a customer tells me a dish was very good, I always say that it is not me alone that has created the dish, it’s the team.
So successful has Hardiquest been that he was crowned Chef of the Year by Gault Millau in 2010 and the restaurant gained a second Michelin star in 2014 and was included in Les Grandes Tables du Monde in 2015. His book “My Kitchen Alphabet”, bringing his culinary philosophy and his personality to life, was published in 2015.
For Hardiquest identity is paramount. Diners should discover a pan-Belgian cuisine that is created using the freshest seasonal ingredients, adapted according to the weather. Memorable dishes include his take on the traditional waffle, flavored with dabs of olive puree and wild thyme; red orach beignets and spicy Bloody Mary sorbet with foamy basil cream; carpaccio of ceps served on tahini paste with Martinique rum foam; meaty cod with artichoke sauce, beans, slivers of salt-cured beef and a light jus; or a dessert of whipped Fontainebleau cheese with dill and chervil meringue shards, and a refreshing cucumber and celery syrup flavored with lemon accompanied by sorrel and peppercorn ice cream.
For flavor with a depth and delight to surprise your taste buds join Chef Christophe Hardiquest on a delicious culinary journey back to his Belgian roots at Restaurant Ikarus in September 2019.
ServusTV: Culinary Heights at Ikarus on ServusTV
Each month at Salzburg’s two Michelin-starred Restaurant Ikarus, a different top international chef creates the menu. For this globally unique concept, Hangar-7 executive chef Martin Klein visits the cream of the crop, takes a look behind the scenes of haute cuisine, and is let in on some exciting culinary secrets. “Culinary Heights at Ikarus” offers a unique glimpse into the world of high-end cuisine and provides an interesting portrait of each guest chef, their culinary philosophy, and the food culture of their country.