Laurent Vardaro Club Ketjep
Laurent Vardaro
La Table des Artistes cofounder

Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.
I worked eight years for a famous Brussels-based caterer, from where I was able to learn all the tricks of the Horeca trade. Today, I’m the manager of a newly established company called La Table des Artistes. Together with my partner, we’re trying to create something different, and like to think of ourselves as kind of restaurateur voyageurs.

How has where you come from shaped who you are?
As a child, my father worked as a maître d’hôtel, and every chance I got, I would help him out. Generally speaking, my parents have always worked hard and taught me the joys in doing a job right. In addition, I’m now the first self-employed member of my family, of which I’m rather proud of.

How would you describe your attitude to work?
At work, I can be pretty hard sometimes, for instance during rushes! Generally speaking however, I’m quite flexible and always remain attentive to everything. The setup of an event requires a quantity of competences, which means you need to know how to multitask. I’m also very dynamic and encourage my team to talk freely to me. It’s important to me that the workplace spirit is always positive.

On a personal note, what would you say you’re the proudest of?
The key requirement in my job is to be everywhere at the same time, which obviously is impossible! But multitasking definitely goes a long way. In practice, this means having meetings and dealing with administration, whilst also building a cold chamber or washing dishes.

To you, what is a Ketje?
Een echt’je ketje, as my grandma used to say! The best example: Toots Thielemans.

What do you think distinguishes Belgium, and its people, from the rest?
I think Belgians are quite creative. Some of them even come from a real, traditional craftsmanship background.

If you had to nominate three people that, to you, best symbolised Belgium in its full glory, who would they be and why?
And the nominees are: Sang Hoon Degeimbre for his zen attitude, Benoît Poelvoorde for his Belgian humour, and Jacques Brel for the being he represents.

If you had to take out-of-towners to one essential restaurant in Belgium, which one would it be?
L’Air du Temps, Sang Hoon Degeimbre’s famous restaurant.

If you had to take visiting guests out on a Sunday tourist trail, where would you take them and why?
I would love to take them from the Palace of Justice courthouse right down to the Marolles, walking along the flea market and going up to Sablon/Zavel. Enjoying a hot chocolate, a stroll to Place Sainte Catherine/Sint-Katlijneplein and its beautiful cathedral. Finally, ending the day drinking a fresh beer in a sunny beer garden, of course.

Sauces, in Belgium at least, are intrinsically linked to French fries. What’s your combination of choice?
Freshly salted French fries with Dallas sauce and a little bit of mayonnaise.

Why do Belgians do it better?
Because we’re proud of who we are!