Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.
After completing my schooling at the Notre-Dame des Champs in Uccle/Ukkel, I tried my hand at studying modern literature at ULB, before quickly giving up and sticking to service work instead. I’d been working as a student waiter at Relais St-Job since I was 16 and got the opportunity to learn all things, from bartending to kitchen work. It opened my eyes to an interesting world of work, enhancing not only my personal development – taking initiatives, communication, combatting shyness – but also my knowledge of food and drink! As my mother was still keen that I get a bachelor’s degree, I started studying management and marketing at EPHEC. In the meantime, my father realised one of his lifelong dreams of opening his own restaurant, and thus Schievelavabo was born in Forest/Vorst in May 2007. Having completed my studies, I tried my luck working for a company representing a brand of copiers and selling directly to businesses – but I soon came to realise that this wasn’t for me. Half a year later, I embarked on an 11-year long Schievelavabo adventure with my father. Early 2018, we sold our company shares to carry out new challenges. Meanwhile, my wife and I decided to finally go abroad rather than open a new establishment, and so we’ve been living in Guadeloupe, full of ideas for this new market.
How has where you come from shaped who you are?
Coming from a stable background where nothing was lacking, I was lucky enough to receive a good quality of education as well as have hardworking parents who always encouraged me to do what I want, developing in a sector that I love. My father Christian Petit has had a whole variety of hats, from butchery to wine merchandising, so it’s thanks to him that I have a passion for top-notch products. Also, the fact that I started working in a restaurant from quite a young age meant that I was able to establish a pretty healthy relationship with money. Surrounded by older and experienced co-workers, I was able to develop my personality, communication tactics and respect for others.
How would you describe your attitude to work?
I always look for the good in everything, constantly positive with a smile on my face – trust me, it can go a long way in various situations. I’m hardworking who likes to see things being done well, even if it does take more time.
On a personal note, what would you say you’re the proudest of?
Having had the chance to work smoothly alongside my father for over a decade, while still being able to maintain our downtime outside of work – especially considering that working with family isn’t always the easiest.
To you, what is a Ketje?
The perfect representation of a young bruxellois’ mentality: proud of his country and its values, always in a good mood and not needing a reason to party.
What do you think distinguishes Belgium, and its people, from the rest?
Belgium is fortunate to have a rich range of cultures, three national languages and a beautiful history, despite its young age! Belgians integrate easily wherever they go, because they don’t impose their own presupposed ideas, trying instead to understand and respect the foreign culture at hand.
If you had to nominate three people that, to you, best symbolised Belgium in its full glory, who would they be and why?
Eddy Merckx, for representing our aptness at cycling, and especially our capacity and tenacity to go all the way to achieve beautiful things.
Jean-Luc Fonck, most known for his role in Sttellla. The perfect embodiment of a Ketje, thanks to his quintessentially Belgian humour.
Our many breweries, both old – like the Cantillon Brewery, one of the last producers of gueuze beer – and new – Brussels Beer Project and En Stoemelings – for reviving the Belgian brewing landscape at home as well as abroad.
If you had to take out-of-towners to one essential restaurant in Belgium, which one would it be?
Schievelavabo, of course! We’re a modest restaurant, offering great specialities with tasty local beers, and where your wallet won’t take a heavy hit.
If you had to take visiting guests out on a Sunday tourist trail, where would you take them and why?
I’d take them for a stroll starting from Porte de Hallepoort, going through Rue Haute/Hoogstraat before reaching the Grand Place, and heading towards the canal. A great way to discover not only Brussels’ history but architecture, too. And why not stop at Brussels Park if the weather permits it?
Sauces, in Belgium at least, are intrinsically linked to French fries. What’s your combination of choice?
Simple: good mayonnaise or andalouse and I’m set! Don’t mess with the classics.
Tell us about the first time you discovered BK sauces.
My father and I were on the search for a high-quality mayonnaise, as we were tired of the countless bland, industrial sauces that aren’t even produced locally. It was during our hunt that we came across Brussels Ketjep, which still only had the Mayo and Ketjep on their roster. We were instantly hooked on its homemade taste as well as the fact that this is a proper Belgian product – as an establishment, it’s really important for us to push our great local products to the forefront!
Why do Belgians do it better?
I don’t know if it’s fair to say we “do it better” – but I am happy to see that Belgians are getting their national pride on, whether it’s for our products, history or culture. Belgians always go all the way while remaining respectful of others and above all, positively minded.