Describe yourself, your background and what you do today. How has where you come from shaped who you are?
I was born in Belgium and I lived for most part in Brussels – it’s where I call home! I’m a biologist with a specialisation in environmental sciences, and I dedicate part of my life to protecting our planet. After working in different administrations for a few years, I wanted to start my own business which would both represent Brussels and respect our environment. And so the souvenir concept store Manneke was born!
How would you describe your attitude to work?
I’m proud of opening the first concept store in the centre of Brussels, which is dedicated to showing off the city’s diverse talents to both tourists and the city’s inhabitants.
To you, what is a Ketje?
The little inhabitants of the melting pot that is Brussels. An “echte brusseleir”!
What do you think distinguishes Belgium, and its people, from the rest?
We’re surrealist and like to tease others, even if we don’t take it so well ourselves.
If you had to nominate three people that, to you, best symbolised Belgium in its full glory, who would they be and why?
Benoît Poelvoorde, a proper caricature of a true Belgian. King Philip, who lived a rather discrete life like most of his people. Stromae, for representing Brussels’ diversity and proving to everyone that there’s plenty of talent to find in our little country.
If you had to take out-of-towners to one essential restaurant in Belgium, which one would it be?
9 et Voisins in downtown Brussels: it’s simple, not expensive and where I meet up with friends.
If you had to take visiting guests out on a Sunday tourist trail, where would you take them and why?
Around Halles Saint-Géry in downtown Brussels, to “discover” the old Senne canal. It’s hidden and unusual like most monuments you’ll find in Brussels. The capital city is best explored through its small corners rather than its grand monuments.
Sauces, in Belgium at least, are intrinsically linked to French fries. What’s your combination of choice?
Tartare sauce on my fries, or mustard on my hotdog.
Tell us about the first time you discovered BK sauces.
It was in a restaurant, and I remember thinking it was fun to have a truly local sauce that incorporated typical Belgian humour into their brand.
Why do Belgians do it better?
Because Belgians never take themselves too seriously.