Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.
I’m the child of a Walloon father and Bruxelloise mother, and was born and raised in Brussels, which I’m very proud of. I myself am married now with a son. I worked in finance for two decades before becoming enamoured with a gourmet grocery store in France, and decided to reorient myself in this new direction once I turned 40.
How has where you come from shaped who you are?
I come from a long line of traders – it flows in my blood. For instance, I have an enlarged old photo dating back to the 20s of my grandfather and great-grandfather posing in front of their business at the time. As a child, I would play shop for hours in my parents’ cellar and loved interacting with my family’s clients. My delicatessen is called “the Epicurious”, which I think describes me quite well: a curious and smiling epicurean.
How would you describe your attitude to work?
I’m passionate about the products I sell and am happy to get to do what I love and interact with my customers. My clients’ comments and feedback motivate me to carry on persevering, because it’s not always easy or straightforward. I’m always looking to improve myself and my little business, including my online boutique store.
On a personal note, what would you say you’re the proudest of?
Some people didn’t think my store would last longer than half a year, and yet we just celebrated seven years of existence this May. A satisfying achievement!
What do you think distinguishes Belgium, and its people, from the rest?
Belgians never take themselves too seriously, is welcoming and jovial, with plenty of humour and self-mockery. With a hand on the heart, they would do anything to serve others. Humble yet proud of their roots, origins and homeland.
If you had to nominate three people that, to you, best symbolised Belgium in its full glory, who would they be and why?
Hergé, the undisputed master of Belgian comics.
Eddy Merckx, a true champion and adorable man who I had the privilege of randomly meeting one day, and who kindly posed for pictures and signed an autograph.
Annie Cordy, a Belgian icon! Always happy to the end, unique with plenty of humour and self-mockery. A female Ketje, if you will.
If you had to take out-of-towners to one essential restaurant in Belgium, which one would it be?
Au Vieux Saint Martin, in the heart of Sablon/Zavel – an excellent address! We always eat very well there, with their popular filet américain steak tartare. Plenty of high-quality Belgian specialities and an efficient staff!
If you had to take visiting guests out on a Sunday tourist trail, where would you take them and why?
Woluwe Park and the Mellaerts Ponds – one of my husband’s ancestor made the initial plantings in the Park. I changed my route to work so that now every morning, I pass by the Ponds. I love seeing the fauna and flora change in the city’s green lung with the passing seasons, it inspires serenity.
Sauces, in Belgium at least, are intrinsically linked to French fries. What’s your combination of choice?
Salted fries with mayonnaise – a fry without mayo is like a day without the sun.
Tell us about the first time you discovered BK sauces.
The classic Mayo and Ketjep, served with my moules-frites in a restaurant.
Why do Belgians do it better?
Because we do it with love!