Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.
It’s a 35-year-long love story – both privately and professionally – leading me to become an operations director today.
How has where you come from shaped who you are?
My trajectory was a rather atypical one, not necessarily heading into the career that I ended up with today. It was especially thanks however to a constant need to learn and ambition – inherited from my father – that lead me to become the person I am today and continue to evolve into.
How would you describe your attitude to work?
I’m a perfectionist who’s not easily satisfied. I always set the bar very high and employ an iron fist in a velvet glove – or vice versa – when necessary to ensure a high-quality team and service.
On a personal note, what would you say you’re the proudest of?
I’m quite proud of the man I am today, both personally and professionally, if I may say so myself. I enjoy a healthy balance between my family, friends, work and hobbies.
To you, what is a Ketje?
Now we’re getting to the good stuff! My maternal grandmother was born on Rue Blaesstraat in the heart of the Marolles, and I grew up in Molenbeek, Schaerbeek and Anderlecht. I’m a true Brusseleir, so a Ketje I am.
What do you think distinguishes Belgium, and its people, from the rest?
If Julius Caesar called the Belgians brave, it’s because we’re warm, welcoming, good-natured, openminded and tolerant with a healthy dose of self-deprecation. I’m proud to call myself Belgian!
If you had to nominate three people that, to you, best symbolised Belgium in its full glory, who would they be and why?
Manneken Pis – this Ketje is the symbol of a free Belgium, which everyone can identify with thanks to his diverse costume collection. Captain Haddock, another symbol of Belgian culture, because the Belgian is also a grouch with a heart of gold. Finally, Ruben Vandevoorde, the perfect caricature of a Belgian. That’s right, Belgians are not without their flaws – they can be intolerant, selfish, stubborn and even a little racist!
If you had to take out-of-towners to one essential restaurant in Belgium, which one would it be?
Au Stekerlapatte, an essential address for those looking to eat authentic Belgian food in a Brusseleir atmosphere, in the heart of the Marolles.
If you had to take visiting guests out on a Sunday tourist trail, where would you take them and why?
A stroll through the city of Bruges, no questions asked. It’s a wonderful city with so much history at every twist and turn. I can never get enough.
Sauces, in Belgium at least, are intrinsically linked to French fries. What’s your combination of choice?
My go-to choices are salt-free fries with a side of mayonnaise, cold homemade ballekes with sauce américaine and frikadelle with ketchup. But as a real lover of fries, I usually eat half of my cone without any sauce!
Why Belgians do it better?
We have the secret formula – the amalgamation of all our qualities and faults means we’re optimistic, ambitious and hardworking folk who aren’t ashamed of our identity, don’t take ourselves too seriously, and live in a country where life, food and drink are great.